Gregson, J.M. 1934- (James Michael Gregson)
Gregson, J.M. 1934- (James Michael Gregson)
Writer and educator. Taught at high school and university level for twenty-seven years.
"LAMBERT AND HOOK" MYSTERY NOVELS
Murder at the Nineteenth, Collins Crime Club (London, England), 1989.
For Sale—with Corpse, Collins Crime Club (London, England), 1990.
Dead on Course, Collins Crime Club (London, England), 1991.
Bring Forth Your Dead, Collins Crime Club (London, England), 1991.
The Fox in the Forest, Collins Crime Club (London, England), 1992.
Stranglehold, Collins Crime Club (London, England), 1993.
Watermarked, Collins Crime Club (London, England), 1994.
Death of a Nobody, HarperCollins (London, England), 1995.
Accident by Design, HarperCollins (London, England), 1996.
Body Politic, Collins Crime Club (London, England), 1997.
Girl Gone Missing, Severn House (Surrey, England), 1998.
Malice Aforethought, Severn House (Surrey, England), 1999.
An Unsuitable Death, Severn House (Surrey, England), 2000.
An Academic Death, Severn House (Surrey, England), 2001.
Death on the Eleventh Hole, Severn House (Surrey, England), 2002.
Mortal Taste, Severn House (Surrey, England), 2003.
Just Desserts, Severn House (Surrey, England), 2004.
Too Much Water, Severn House (Surrey, England), 2005.
Close Call, Severn House (Surrey, England), 2006.
Something Is Rotten, Severn House (Surrey, England), 2007.
"INSPECTOR PEACH" MYSTERY NOVELS
Who Saw Him Die?, Severn House (Surrey, England), 1994.
Missing, Presumed Dead, Severn House (Surrey, England), 1997.
To Kill a Wife, Severn House (Surrey, England), 1999.
A Turbulent Priest, Severn House (Surrey, England), 2000.
The Lancashire Leopard, Severn House (Surrey, England), 2001.
A Little Learning, Severn House (Surrey, England), 2002.
Murder at the Lodge, Severn House (Surrey, England), 2003.
Wages of Sin, Severn House (Surrey, England), 2004.
Dusty Death, Severn House (Surrey, England), 2005.
Witch's Sabbath, Severn House (Surrey, England), 2006.
Remains to Be Seen, Severn House (Surrey, England), 2007.
Pastures New, Severn House (Surrey, England), 2008.
Poetry of the First World War, Edward Arnold (London, England), 1976.
Shakespeare: Twelfth Night, Edward Arnold (London, England), 1980.
Public and Private Man in Shakespeare, Croom Helm (London, England), 1984.
Golf Rules OK, Black (London, England), 1984.
Sherlock Holmes and the Frightened Golfer (novel), Breese Books (London, England), 2000.
British author J.M. Gregson taught for twenty-seven years at both the high school and university levels before he began writing full time. He has written on diverse subjects, including golf and Shakespeare, but is best known for his mystery novels. Gregson's mysteries fall primarily within the parameters of two series: the "Inspector Peach" novels and the "Lambert and Hook" series. The "Lambert and Hook" novels follow the adventures of Superintendent John Lambert and Detective Sergeant Bert Hook as they investigate various murders in the English countryside. In Girl Gone Missing, Lambert and Hook find themselves changing a missing person case into a murder investigation when the body of Alison Watts is discovered. It soon becomes clear that Watts led a secret life, and that none of her friends, family, or acquaintances can be disregarded in the search for her killer. John Rowen, in a review for Booklist, noted the book's "straightforward narrative, country settings, and no-nonsense characters," and remarked that the leading characters "combine appealing humanity with dry wit."
In Malice Aforethought, Lambert and Hook are torn away from their golf game in order to examine a body that has been discovered in a churchyard. The body is determined to be a man with a past, again providing Lambert and Hook with a long list of potential suspects. Booklist reviewer Rowen stated that "the series is recommended for its gritty realism and hard-to-solve mysteries." An Unsuitable Death finds the detectives searching for yet another killer, this one having left the corpse on the steps of the town's cathedral. Of this installment in the series, Rowen wrote that "along with a sure sense of police procedure, Gregson offers unsettling insights into drugs, fundamentalist religion, and the delusions that love brings."
With An Academic Death, Gregson mines his own background as an educator, setting Lambert and Hook to discover who has murdered a local university professor. A critic for Publishers Weekly commented that "while Gregson develops the characters of Hook and Lambert, he skimps on the unsavory collection of faculty members they investigate, none of whom is sympathetic." However, in another Booklist review, Rowen remarked that "the prose and the pace in this latest Lambert and Hook mystery are clipped, clean, and crisp," and called the detectives "an appealing team."
In Mortal Taste, Lambert and Hook investigate the murder of a school headmaster and delve into the world of drugs, sex, and possibly pedophilia. A Kirkus Reviews contributor found the book "both dependable and inventive—and likely to delight procedural fans on both sides of the pond."
Just Desserts finds Lambert and Hook investigating the murder of Patrick Nayland, the owner of the Camellia Park Golf Club. Nayland had been planning a huge party to celebrate the club's success over the previous ten years, but instead ends up stabbed to death in the washroom in the basement of the club. Lambert and Hook question Nayland's family and staff, but while each claims to have loved him and that he was a wonderful man who deserved better, each appears to be holding a little something back during their questioning. It turns out that Nayland had promised the chef a partnership in the business, the greenskeeper has a cocaine addiction and a tendency toward sticky fingers to keep himself supplied, and the catering manager appears all too pleased when her garbage man carts away her trash. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews found the book somewhat tedious, noting that "neither lawmen nor suspects are any more interesting than they need to be."
A dead university student becomes the center of a Lambert and Hook investigation in Too Much Water. The girl's mother remains strangely unemotional upon hearing of her daughter's death. Meanwhile, other suspects abound, including former and rejected lovers. Emily Melton, writing for Booklist, appreciated the novel's "beguiling plot, realistic characters, and plenty of twists."
In Close Call, Lambert and Hook check out a murder in a new area of Gloucestershire called Gurney Close, the morning after a block party held to celebrate the opening of the new homes. Robin Durkin, a garage owner and one of the new residents, has been strangled with a cable, and in the commotion of the festivities, anyone might have done it. As always, Lambert and Hook seem to have more suspects than they know what to do with, since each of Durkin's new neighbors has a past relationship with him, from an old teacher to a former lover. Nor was Durkin the nicest of characters, as prior to his death he had been blackmailing two of his neighbors. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews opined: "As usual, Gregson's coppers squeeze and squeeze the suspects until they've gotten every last one of their not-very-interesting secrets."
Something Is Rotten finds Bert Hook performing with a local dramatic society, having been encouraged by the local Justice of the Peace, Maggie Dalrymple, who knew the upcoming production was Hamlet and thought Hook would make a perfect Polonius. Hook enjoys his role as well as the interaction with various people he knows from around town, including a couple of young petty thieves who seem to have found a new outlet for their energies. However, the play is abruptly canceled when the director, Terry Logan, is murdered. Working with Chief Superintendent John Lambert and DI Chris Rushton, Hook sets out to question all of the other cast members, only to learn that virtually all of them have a plausible motive for wanting Terry Logan dead. J.M. Gregson, writing for Kirkus Reviews, commented that "the tried-and-true Lambert and Hook formula … is livened by a peek into the detectives' private lives.
Gregson writes another series of mysteries that focus on Detective Inspector Percy Peach and his associate, Detective Sergeant Lucy Blake. In To Kill a Wife, an English accountant is getting ready to kill his spouse, only to have someone else do it before he can get the chance. Rowen, in a review for Booklist, reported that "Peach himself makes a memorable hero, as distinctive as Inspector Morse but less brooding." Rex E. Klett, writing for the Library Journal, found the book to be "well done, suspenseful, and engaging."
In A Turbulent Priest, Detective Inspector Peach is called in when a stream floods and a corpse rises to the surface. As is typical of Gregson's mysteries, a large number of suspects come to the foreground once the body is identified. Booklist reviewer Rowen remarked of this installment in the series that "Gregson combines unsettling insights on contemporary religion with fascinating procedural detail."
In Murder at the Lodge, Detective Inspector Peach is hoping for a promotion. Matters are complicated by Peach's superior, Chief Inspector Thomas Tucker Bullstrode, who finds himself missing valuable information regarding the team's current case. A Kirkus Reviews contributor found the novel to be "another amusing procedural that makes for a lovely evening's entertainment—except, as Peach might observe, for the victim and his killer." By Wages of Sin, Bullstrode has banished Peach to the traffic division, but he is forced to call him back when no one else can handle a new murder case.
Dusty Death continues Peach and Blake's story as the duo investigates the murder of a young girl whose body is uncovered at a construction site. Among the suspects are five previously unsavory characters who have since become successful professionals with selective memories. The novel was described by a Kirkus Reviews contributor as "a peach of a procedural, amusing throughout, that keeps you guessing until the very end." The investigation of another murdered young woman, this time a newly converted witch, is the subject of Witch's Sabbath, and Peach must rely on his best interviewing techniques to uncover the killer despite resistance from his chief. "Biting but hilarious wit, skillful writing, and an intriguing plot" were standout qualities of the novel, according to Booklist reviewer Emily Melton.
Remains to Be Seen follows Peach, aided by police sergeant Jack Clark, working undercover, and the Detective Constable Clyde Northcott as he conducts a raid on the Marton Towers in a drug bust. However, once the raid is over and the criminals supposedly secured, a mysterious fire starts in the staff wing. While investigating the blaze, they come across the corpse of carpenter Neil Cartwright. Peach and his fiancée, Detective Sergeant Lucy Blake conduct the murder investigation, questioning the household help, none of whom appears to be one hundred percent forthcoming. However, Blake and Peach manage to sift through their lies, eventually discovering who the killer is. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews found the book did not meet the standards of the previous efforts in the series, remarking that it is "a by-the-book procedural with too many loose ends to satisfy any but the most devoted Peach fans."
In Pastures New, Peach finds himself investigating the murder of Geoffrey Aspin, a successful local businessman. The sixty-year-old had recently informed his family of his intentions to remarry, an announcement that came as a shock to both his business partner and his daughters and their husbands. The chance of losing out on a portion of their inheritance could have easily motivated any of Aspin's family to kill him before he had the opportunity to tie the knot again. Peach is aware of this, but he also knows that in a murder investigation, new suspects can pop up at any time. In a review for Booklist, Emily Melton praised the book for its "wry humor, solid plotting, and wise insights into the foibles of human behavior."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 1, 1998, John Rowen, review of Girl Gone Missing, p. 310; April 15, 1999, John Rowen, review of To Kill a Wife, p. 1476; January 1, 2000, John Rowen, review of Malice Aforethought, p. 883; March 15, 2000, John Rowen, review of A Turbulent Priest, p. 1333; September 1, 2000, John Rowen, review of An Unsuitable Death, p. 69; January 1, 2002, John Rowen, review of An Academic Death, p. 818; September 15, 2003, Emily Melton, review of Mortal Taste, p. 214; April 1, 2004, Emily Melton, review of Wages of Sin, p. 1352; October 1, 2004, Emily Melton, review of Just Desserts, p. 313; September 15, 2005, Emily Melton, review of Too Much Water, p. 35; April 1, 2006, Emily Melton, review of Witch's Sabbath, p. 24; February 1, 2008, Emily Melton, review of Pastures New, p. 32.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2002, review of A Little Learning, p. 617; October 15, 2002, review of Death on the Eleventh Hole, p. 1507; April 1, 2003, review of Murder at the Lodge, p. 508; October 15, 2003, review of Mortal Taste, p. 1253; March 1, 2004, review of Wages of Sin, p. 203; October 14, 2004, review of Just Desserts, p. 986; April 1, 2005, review of Dusty Death, p. 388; November 1, 2006, review of Close Call, p. 1103; April 1, 2007, review of Remains to Be Seen; August 15, 2007, review of Something Is Rotten.
Library Journal, June 1, 1999, Rex E. Klett, review of To Kill a Wife, p. 184; April 1, 2004, Rex E. Klett, review of Wages of Sin, p. 128.
Publishers Weekly, January 21, 2002, review of An Academic Death.