Hammond, Gerald 1926–
HAMMOND, Gerald 1926–
(Arthur Douglas, Gerald Arthur Douglas Hammond, Dalby Holden)
Born March 7, 1926, in Bournemouth, Hampshire, England; son of Frederick Arthur Lucas (a physician) and Maria Birnie (a nursing sister) Hammond; married Gilda Isobel Watt (a nurse), August 20, 1952; children: Peter, David, Steven. Education: Aberdeen School of Architecture, Dip. Arch., 1952. Politics: Conservative. Hobbies and other interests: Shooting, fishing.
Home—Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer and novelist, 1983—. Navy, Army, and Air Force Institutes, Claygate, Surrey, England, assistant architect, 1952-53; Aberdeen County Council, Aberdeen, Scotland, assistant architect, 1953-60; University of Dundee, Dundee, Argus, Scotland, assistant to resident architect, 1960-69; Livingston Development Corp., Livingston, Scotland, deputy chief architect and planning officer for Livingston New Town, 1969-82. Member, Royal Institute of British Architects; fellow and former chair of Scottish branch of Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Military service: British Army, 1944-45.
Crime Writers Association, Society of Authors, Muzzle Loaders Association, Shooting Club (founder; president).
Fred in Situ, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1965.
The Loose Screw, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1966.
Mud in His Eye, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1967.
(Under pseudonym Dalby Holden) Doldrum, R. Hale (London, England), 1987.
Cash and Carry, Macmillan (London, England), 1992.
Bloodlines, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1998.
Follow that Gun, Thorndike Press (Thorndike, ME), 1998.
A Running Jump, Severn House (London, England), 1998.
Flamescape, Severn House (London, England), 1998.
Twice Bitten, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1999.
Grail for Sale, Severn House (London, England), 2002.
The Snatch, Severn House (London, England), 2003.
The Hitch, Severn House (London, England), 2004.
The Outpost, Severn House (London, England), 2004.
Dead Letters, Allison & Busby (London, England), 2005.
Cold in the Heads, Severn House (London, England), 2006.
Cold Relations, Allison & Busby (London, England), 2006.
"keith calder" series
Dead Game, Macmillan (London, England), 1979.
The Reward Game, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1980.
The Revenge Game, Macmillan (London, England), 1981.
Fair Game, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1982.
The Game, Macmillan (London, England), 1982.
Cousin Once Removed, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1984.
Sauce for the Pigeon, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1984.
Pursuit of Arms, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1985.
Silver City Scandal, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1986.
The Executor, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1986.
The Worried Widow, Macmillan (London, England), 1987, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1988.
Adverse Report, Macmillan (London, England), 1987.
Stray Shot, Macmillan (London, England), 1988.
A Brace of Skeet, Macmillan (London, England), 1989.
Let Us Prey, Macmillan (London, England), 1990.
Home to Roost, Macmillan (London, England), 1990.
In Camera, Macmillan (London, England), 1991.
Snatch Crop, Macmillan (London, England), 1991.
Thin Air, Macmillan (London, England), 1993.
Hook or Crook, Macmillan (London, England), 1994.
Carriage of Justice, Macmillan (London, England), 1995.
Sink or Swim, Macmillan (London, England), 1996.
A Shocking Affair, Macmillan (London, England), 1999.
Illegal Tender, Macmillan (London, England), 2000.
"captain john cunningham" series
Dog in the Dark, Macmillan (London, England), 1989.
Doghouse, Macmillan (London, England), 1989.
Whose Dog Are You?, Macmillan (London, England), 1990.
Give a Dog a Name, Macmillan (London, England), 1992.
The Curse of the Cockers, Macmillan (London, England), 1993.
Sting in the Tail, Macmillan (London, England), 1994.
Mad Dogs and Scotsmen, Macmillan (London, England), 1995.
Bloodlines, Macmillan (London, England), 1996.
Dead Weight, Macmillan (London, England), 2000.
novels; under pseudonym arthur douglas
The Goods, Macmillan (London, England), 1985.
Last Rights, Macmillan (London, England), 1986, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1987.
A Very Wrong Number, Macmillan (London, England), 1987.
A Worm Turns, Macmillan (London, England), 1988, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1989.
Fine Tune (novel), Severn House (London, England), 1998.
Into the Blue (novel), Severn House (London, England), 2000.
Down the Garden Path (novel), Severn House (London, England), 2003.
Contributor to magazines and periodicals. Also author of monthly column, "The Abominable Dog," Sporting Gun.
The novel Give a Dog a Name was adapted as an audiobook, narrated by Donald Douglas, released by Isis Publishing in 2000.
Gerald Hammond has used his profound knowledge of firearms and hunting dogs to create two unique mystery series, one featuring a Scottish gun-smith, Keith Calder, and the other focusing on John Cunningham, a retired soldier turned dog breeder. The author originally set out to write humor, but found that publishers had little interest in humorous novels. Still, his first three books—Fred in Situ, The Loose Screw, and Mud in His Eye—have a somewhat humorous bent. Their protagonist is Beau Pepys, an architect and amateur race driver who becomes involved in mysteries. St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers contributor Judith Rhodes described them as "lighthearted" and "fairly implausible" but "nevertheless pleasant." Hammond related in that book that after writing these first novels he began trying to come up with a new set of characters and a background he would not have to research much: "I was (and am) deeply involved with gundogs and shooting, generally, and was irritated by the stereotypes of the shooting fraternity which seemed to be universal. I set out to depict the shooting scene (particularly in Scotland) as I knew it, most of [it] centered around the character of Keith Calder, a gunsmith of unreliable habits and an enquiring mind" and "a randy but loveable rogue."
Numerous critics found the Calder series to be unique in the mystery genre because of its heavily detailed lore about dogs and hunting. Rhodes explained: "Keith Calder burst upon the scene in Dead Game, bombarding the reader, and any character in the book who will pay him any attention, with intricate details of firearms and firearm history. Calder, in his capacity as gunsmith, shooting instructor, and poacher, is in his younger days none too choosey about which side of the law he operates on. As the series progresses … he marries, sets up a gunshop, and as the years pass becomes a relatively respectable figure, upon whom his former adversary Chief Inspector Munro comes unwillingly to rely." Reviewing one title in the series, Pursuit of Arms, a Booklist contributor approved of its "interesting gun lore, subtle characterization, smashing action, and … taut suspense." As the series unfolded, Calder frequently relinquished his role as narrator to other characters. Three of the later novels are written in the voice of Simon Parbitter, a London-born writer who moves next to Calder; others are narrated by Calder's daughter Deborah, his partner Wallace James, or by Ian Fellowes, a detective who eventually marries Deborah.
Hammond's special knowledge of the hunting world figures prominently in another mystery series, this one featuring John Cunningham, a soldier who was discharged from the army after contracting a debilitating tropical disease. He takes up a career as a professional breeder and trainer of Springer spaniels, working with kennelmaid Beth Cattrell and hard-drinking veterinarian Isobel Kitts. This trio finds itself repeatedly drawn into mysteries, and as Rhodes pointed out, "the joint expertise of the three partners (Cunningham's in guns, Isobel's in dog-breeding, and Beth's in sheer commonsense) helps in solving murders and associated canine and ballistic puzzles." Rhodes noted that the Cunningham books are more formulaic than the Calder efforts, but conceded that each one "provides an interesting and entertaining read."
Hammond's nonseries crime novels include his lighthearted Grail for Sale, which brings together Scottish historian Jeremy Carpenter and Hazel Tripp, an American who has lost her job in an antiques store. Upon comparing notes, the two discover that both of their predicaments arise from the same source: wealthy blackguard Gordon McKennerty. They concoct an antiques scam through which they plan to exact revenge. A Publishers Weekly contributor felt that "Hammond fans should enjoy his new tack and new readers might easily become fans…. Everyone should be grateful that the author has yet to retire."
The Snatch finds twenty-something Alice Dunwoodie storming out of the house after a dispute with her father and meeting her friend, Sarah McLeod, at a local bar. As the two young women walk home, they are kidnapped by Foxy Brett and Tod Bracken, who intend to hold them for ransom. But the women convince them that there is no money to be made, and that, instead, they should all work together and divide the spoils of a supermarket robbery. They succeed, but with consequences that provide an entirely new challenge. Library Journal reviewer Rex Klett wrote that Hammond's "lively plot and light prose" are "energized by frequent humor."
Alice and Sarah return in The Hitch with a burglary plot that also involves Alice's father, Robin. Unfortunately, even Alice's carefully laid plans can go awry, and Robin is caught and jailed. The three decide to go straight, but a fax received by accident just before Robin's release from prison reignites the trio's larcenous fires. The errant fax is from wealthy pop music star Mona Lisa, who is trying to reserve the Scottish retreat of Angus Castle for her upcoming wedding. They decide to correspond with the star as if they were representatives of the castle, constantly requesting more and more payments for reservations, materials, and other expenses for the lavish wedding. If they can keep up the subterfuge long enough, they can bilk the singer out of plenty of cash—but more people know about their chicanery than they realize. Their plot involves a complex balancing act, keeping not only the famous pop star in the dark, but representatives of the real Angus Castle, and some dangerous criminals, as well. Booklist reviewer Emily Melton appreciated the novel for it's "appealing characters, an imaginative plot, and cracking good action."
The Outpost has a "wildly implausible [plot], but the book is such good fun it doesn't matter," remarked Melton in another Booklist review. Hallelujah Brown, the daughter of a British army officer, is wooed into military service—less for her skills than for the fact she is a black woman whose recruitment makes good PR. At Sandhurst, a military training school, Hallelujah proves she is much more than a prime recruiting statistic. She is also an outstanding soldier with a brilliant military mind. Assigned to a post in Maveria, her language skills prove useful when her superior officer is captured by neighboring Liboonese rebels. After the perils of war transform her into the senior officer, she finds herself in a leadership role hatching battle plans, devising strategy, and developing a ferocious reputation among the Liboonese.
Lady P, the protagonist of Cold in the Heads, is an engineer, detective, and grandmother. What she thought was going to be a typical day of caring for her grandson while her daughter and son-in-law take some time off turns into an unexpectedly dark experience. When her daughter and son-in-law return after a day of sailing, they announce a startling discovery: a dead body in the boat's cabin. Lady P enthusiastically takes up the investigation and discovers that the dead woman is Molly Gallagher, a secretary from the county architect's office who disappeared eight months earlier. However, the pathologist determines that the woman died much more recently, raising the question of what happened to her from the time she disappeared to the time she died. Lady P is determined to find out, though she is stymied by an uncooperative local police detective, thugs intent on doing her physical harm, and corrupt local officials who are obviously involved in the murder. A Kirkus Reviews critic called Lady P an "appealingly free-spirited detective." In another Booklist review, Melton concluded that "for those who enjoy understated but uproarious humor and delightfully weird characters …, this is just the ticket."
Hammond once told CA: "I try very hard to be technically accurate, and this may be why my novels bring me correspondence from all over the world. Americans, in particular, send me supporting material which I wish I had while writing that particular book. A fictional incident in one of my novels recently suggested to a detective in San Francisco the solution to a real crime, and convictions followed.
"I never set out to become a propagandist for the shooting man but this, again, happened without my conscious volition. In Britain, perhaps more than the States, an attitude is growing that shooting must ipso facto be cruel and that wildlife would achieve a delightful balance, patterned on Walt Disney, if left severely alone. My series of novels has proved ideal (and, I hope, useful) in putting across, one piece at a time, the facts that the balance of nature (in Britain) is entirely man-made or man-influenced, that it owes a major debt to shooting interests and that the withdrawal of hunting pressures would spell disaster to wildlife as we know it here.
"My primary motivation for writing is escape from boredom into a rich fantasy world. My writing process is to look for a starting idea and start writing. Characters will usually develop themselves. I use a word processor and enjoy the final development more than the plotting.
"I used to write against backgrounds of my enthusiasms. A change was partly triggered by a desire to try my hand at non-crime fiction. This introduced a change in style. I leave it to others to interpret."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Booklist, December 15, 1985, review of Pursuit of Arms, p. 608; February 15, 1992, Peter Robertson, review of In Camera, p. 1091; March 15, 2004, Emily Melton, review of The Hitch, p. 1271; September 15, 2004, Emily Melton, review of The Outpost, p. 212; November 1, 2005, Emily Melton, review of Cold in the Heads, p. 28.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2002, review of Grail for Sale, p. 457; May 1, 2003, review of The Snatch, p. 645; March 15, 2004, review of The Hitch, p. 251; December 15, 2005, review of Cold in the Heads, p. 1302.
Library Journal, April 15, 2000, Barbara E. Kemp, review of Into the Blue, p. 122; June 1, 2003, Rex Klett, review of The Snatch, p. 171.
Publishers Weekly, April 23, 2001, review of Illegal Tender, p. 52; April 22, 2002, review of Grail for Sale, p. 53.
Fantastic Fiction Web site,http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/ (May 29, 2006), biography of Gerald Hammond.