Graham, Caroline 1931–
Graham, Caroline 1931–
PERSONAL: Born July 17, 1931, in Warwickshire, England; daughter of Horace Frederick (a railway worker) and Edith Mary (a ladies' maid; maiden name, Walker) Harris; married, 1953 (divorced, 1966); children: David. Education: Open University, B.A., 1983. Religion: Society of Friends (Quakers). Hobbies and other interests: Gardening, amateur dramatics, cats.
ADDRESSES: Agent—David Higham Associates Ltd., 5-8 Lower John St., Golden Sq., London W1R 4HA, England.
CAREER: Professional dancer, 1948–52; actress and stage manager in the 1960's; freelance radio broadcaster in the 1970's; writer, 1971–. Military service: Women's Royal Naval Service, 1953–58.
AWARDS, HONORS: The Killings at Badger's Drift was selected as one of the 100 Greatest Crime Novels, Crime Writers Association.
Fire Dance (novel), Fontana (London, England), 1982.
The Envy of the Stranger (novel), Century (London, England), 1984.
BMX, Star Rider (for children), Beaver (London, England), 1985.
BMX'ers Battle It Out (for children), Beaver (London, England), 1986.
The Killings at Badger's Drift, Adler & Adler (Bethesda, MD), 1988.
Death of a Hollow Man: A Chief Inspector Barnaby Mystery, Morrow (New York, NY), 1989.
Murder at Madingley Grange, Thorndike Press (Thorndike, ME), 1991.
Death in Disguise, Morrow (New York, NY), 1993.
Camilla: The King's Mistress: A Love Story, Contemporary Books (Chicago, IL), 1994.
Written in Blood: A Chief Inspector Barnaby Mystery, Morrow (New York, NY), 1995.
Faithful unto Death, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1998.
A Place of Safety: A Chief Inspector Barnaby Mystery, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1999.
A Ghost in the Machine ("Inspector Barnaby" mystery series), St. Martin's (New York, NY), 2004.
High Spirits and Low Cunning (radio play), 1971.
The Cotswold Connubials (radio play), 1973.
The Sea Shell (radio play), 1975.
Adonis in Dark Glasses (radio play), 1976.
The Common Lot (television comedy), 1977.
ADAPTATIONS: A British television program was adapted from Graham's Chief Inspector Barnaby mysteries.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A radio play titled The Envy of the Stranger.
SIDELIGHTS: Caroline Graham is best known as a mystery writer, who, according to a contributor on the Classic Crime Fiction Web site, "is one of the few authors to have successfully transposed the 'Golden Age' into the 'Modern Age.'" The writer went on to note: "Graham's popularity and success lies in her ability to bring a quintessential 'English village' murder mystery into modern times but without losing that Marplesque feel."
One of the author's most popular characters is Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby. In her 1993 book, Death in Disguise, Barnaby is on the case of a murder in a rural manor inhabited by members of a mystic cult. The death of a cult member is ruled accidental; but the arrival of a nefarious businessman, whose daughter belongs to the cult, is soon followed by the knifing death of the master of the lodge during a séance. The suspects are many, and a mentally disabled youth may hold the secret. Calling the mystery a "competent procedural," a Publishers Weekly contributor went on to note that it "works most effectively as a wickedly acid yet sympathetic portrayal of a group of society's misfits seeking comfort and a place in the world."
Written in Blood once again features Barnaby; this time he investigates the murder of a member of the Midsomer Worthy Writers' Circle who opposed inviting writer Max Jennings to speak. Jennings, in fact, appears to be the prime suspect after Barnaby finds out the murdered woman was not who she said she was. "Revolving around the lives and relationships of group members, this is a complicated, satisfying mystery," wrote Gail Pool in the Wilson Library Bulletin. Pool continued: "For all her humor, Graham makes us feel the pathos of these individuals, some struggling to succeed, others enduring lives of 'quiet desperation,' and one of them dead." In a review in Booklist, Emily Melton noted that the author "effectively juxtaposes the darkly malignant aspects of human behavior with the … trivialities of everyday life."
In Faithful unto Death, Barnaby once again sets out to solve a case in a remote village in England. When a homemaker disappears, her successful husband drinks himself to death; this tragedy is followed by the disappearance of two more housewives. A ransom note arrives for the first missing woman, laying to rest rumors about her disappearance, but another woman is found to have been conducting an affair. David Pitt, writing in Booklist, noted that the "seemingly typical British small-town mystery ends as an eyebrow-raising shocker." A Publishers Weekly contributor commented on the author's "witty characterizations coupled with some astute reflections."
Barnaby sets out to solve the murder of a disliked man in a small village in the mystery A Place of Safety. When a young women disappears, Barnaby ponders whether or not one of the villagers is a murderer. Pitt, writing again in Booklist, described the book as "gentle, yes, but intensely pleasurable reading." Library Journal contributor Sandy Glover called the mystery "charming, quiet, and polite."
In A Ghost in the Machine, Barnaby investigates the murder of two men, one of whom has been crushed by a medieval device of torture. Writing in Booklist, Emily Melton noted that the author presents "an entire village full of delightfully eccentric characters whose stories are nearly as enthralling as the murder itself." Rex E. Klett, writing in the Library Journal, called the effort an "attractive village cozy."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 1, 1995, Emily Melton, review of Written in Blood, p. 1181; July, 1998, David Pitt, review of Faithful unto Death, p. 1863; August, 1999, David Pitt, review of A Place of Safety, p. 2033; August, 2004, Emily Melton, review of A Ghost in the Machine, p. 1905.
Library Journal, April 15, 2001, Sandy Glover, review of A Place of Safety, p. 154; August, 2004, Rex E. Klett, review of A Ghost in the Machine, p. 60.
Publishers Weekly, April 12, 1993, review of Death in Disguise, p. 49; June 15, 1998, review of Faithful unto Death, p. 45.
Wilson Library Bulletin, March, 1995, Gail Pool, review of Written in Blood, p. 90.
Classic Crime Fiction, http://www.classiccrimefiction.com/ (October 30, 2005), "Caroline Graham: A Brief Biography."