ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Severn House Publishers, 7-15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey SM1 1DF England. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer, novelist, and public speaker. Served with Metropolitan Police for thirty years, including as a detective at Scotland Yard; protection officer for British prime ministers Harold Wilson and Edward Heath; formerly second-in-command of Diplomatic Protection Group. Military service: British Army; served five years.
The Cold Light of Dawn, Macmillan (London, England), 1988.
Confirm or Deny, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1989.
The Home Secretary Will See You Now, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1989.
Lead Me to the Slaughter, Macmillan (London, England), 1990.
A Damned Serious Business, Macmillan (London, England), 1990.
The Laundry Man, Macmillan (London, England), 1991.
Snowdrop, Macmillan (London, England), 1992.
Tomfoolery, Macmillan (London, England), 1992.
The Taming of Tango Harris, Macmillan (London, England), 1993.
Underneath the Arches, Little, Brown (London, England), 1994.
Rough Diamonds, Little, Brown (London, England), 1995.
Blue Murder, Little, Brown (London, England), 1996.
Division, Severn House (Sutton, England), 1997.
Working Girl, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2002.
Light Fantastic, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2003.
Hardcastle's Spy, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2003.
Hardcastle's Armistice, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2004.
Whiplash, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2004.
Kicking the Air, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2005.
Scriptwriter for The Bill, Thames Television. Contributor to periodicals, including London Daily Telegraph.
SIDELIGHTS: Graham Ison is a prolific author of crime and police procedural novels, all with a distinctly British flavor. His works are infused with the realism and verisimilitude of his decades of experience in law enforcement and criminal investigation in England, including thirty-five years as a detective with Scotland Yard.
In Working Girl, Detective Chief Inspector Harry Brock and his put-upon but erudite partner, Detective Sergeant Dave Poole, investigate the murder of a London prostitute. The sordid murder of Monica Pur-vis, who specialized in bondage and domination, also involves unsavory government official Geoffrey Halstead, MP and cabinet minister, whose connection with Purvis must be handled carefully by the investigators. Brock and Poole are instructed by their superior officer, Commissioner Sir Charles Austen, to disregard Halstead as a suspect. As more murders mount up and the roster of suspects fills with a variety of lowlifes and ill-meaning sorts, Brock and Poole chase unfulfilling leads and finally zero in on a suspect: the infuriated Halstead. "Persistence, luck, and good banter attend the pair as they close the case," commented Library Journal reviewer Rex E. Klett. A Publishers Weekly critic noted that "Anglophilic crime fans will appreciate the novel's air of authenticity."
Brock and Poole appear again in Light Fantastic, another "cracking police procedural," commented Emily Melton in Booklist. The detectives are summoned to the breathtakingly posh home of Kim and Andrew Light to investigate what appears to be the murder of the mansion's inhabitants. When Andrew Light appears, whole and unharmed and returned from a business trip, the cadaver accompanying the departed Mrs. Light is found to be one Duncan Ford, a man about whom little is known. Brock's investigation reveals that Kim Light was concealing her own mysteries, including a previous career as a lap-dancer and a lack of legal marriage to Light. The detectives' investigation takes them into an underworld of sex clubs and drug dealers that, like the murdered duo in the upscale house, is unwilling to part with closely held secrets. A Kirkus Reviews critic called the book "a perplexing whodunit" that is "long on authenticity if a bit short on nuance." Melton concluded that the novel is "A well-written police procedural that shows just how tough being a copper really is."
Ison turns to history in Hardcastle's Spy. Though England is deeply entrenched in fighting World War I, crimes are still committed at home. When a young woman is found murdered, it appears to be a tragic but commonplace killing of a prostitute. But before Divisional Detective Inspector Ernest Hardcastle can begin his investigation, he is summoned to Britain's covert intelligence organization, MI5. The murdered woman, it appears, was not a simple streetwalker, but a German spy who used sex to coax secrets from her numerous victims. MI5 summarily offers up a suspect to the police, but Hardcastle finds the situation too convenient; he suspects that the spy organization is trying to divert a real investigation that might uncover unpleasant facts. A second murder, also of a woman, convinces Hardcastle that defying MI5 is the only proper thing to do. Melton, in another Booklist review, called Hardcastle's Spy an "entertaining, wryly humorous, skillfully written police procedural" novel.
In 1918, World War I has ended, but Hardcastle's Armistice Day celebration is interrupted by the murder of a pregnant prostitute in Hardcastle's Armistice. The suspects in Fanny Horwood's murder are as plentiful as her customers. Hardcastle investigates the pier photographer whose sideline is in pornographic photos; the shell-shocked military veteran who lived in the same boarding house as Fanny; even the landlady who reported Fanny missing. While investigating, Hardcastle has to sort out an accusation made by Alderman Richard Stevenson that one of the murder suspects is blackmailing him. "As usual, Ison presents an absorbing plot, wry humor, and impressively authentic period ambience," Melton remarked in another Booklist review. "A neat job of police work and people so interesting you'll want to race through Hardcastle's second case … without even a break for teatime," concluded a Kirkus Reviews critic of Hardcastle's Armistice.
Detectives Brock and Poole get another turn in Whiplash. Brock is puzzled to be called to the scene of a traffic accident that seems outside his bailiwick, but when he arrives on the scene, it is clear that the situation is no ordinary crash. A naked female body lies in a ditch near the wrecked car—not a victim of the crash, but apparently a murder victim who died some twelve hours earlier from what looks to be a savage beating. Brock identifies her as Alexandra Forbes, earlier reported missing, but her husband Max Forbes seems strangely unperturbed by news of his wife's unusual death. As Brock and Poole investigate, it becomes clear that the Forbeses were participants in a subculture of kinky sex and sadomasochism. It may have been Max Forbes's whip hand that killed his wife, but Brock's investigative skills will take a beating as he works his way through a retinue of devoted pleasure-and-pain-seekers to locate the real killer. Melton called Whiplash "another fine entry in Ison's well-crafted British procedural series."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 15, 2003, Emily Melton, review of Light Fantastic, p. 585; April 1, 2004, Emily Melton, review of Hardcastle's Spy, p. 1353; June 1, 2004, Emily Melton, review of Whiplash, p. 1708; January 1, 2005, Emily Melton, review of Hardcastle's Armistice, p. 827.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2002, review of Working Girl, p. 457; November 15, 2003, review of Light Fantastic, p. 1342; August 1, 2004, review of Whiplash, p. 716; February 1, 2005, review of Hardcastle's Armistice, p. 152.
Library Journal, May 1, 2002, Rex E. Klett, review of Working Girl, p. 138.
Publishers Weekly, June 15, 1990, Sybil Steinberg, review of The Home Secretary Will See You Now, p. 59; May 6, 2002, review of Working Girl, p. 40.
Graham Ison Home Page, http://www.grahamison.co.uk (March 19, 2005).