Maitland, Barry

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Maitland, Barry


Born in Scotland.


Home—New South Wales, Australia.


Mystery writer, architect, and educator. University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, professor of architecture, 1984-2000.


John Creasey Memorial Award shortlist, Crime Writers Association, for The Marx Sisters; Ned Kelly Award for Crime Writing, Crime Writers Association of Australia, 1996, for The Malcontenta.


(With David Gosling) Design and Planning of Retail Systems, Whitney Library of Design (New York, NY), 1976.

(With David Gosling) Concepts of Urban Design, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1984.

Shopping Malls: Planning and Design, Nichols (New York, NY), 1985.

The Pender Index: A Guide to the Architectural Work of the Pender Practice of Maitland, N.S.W, 1863-1988, Faculty of Architecture, Building, and Design, University of Newcastle (Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia), 1999.


The Marx Sisters, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1994, Arcade (New York, NY), 1999.

The Malcontenta, [England], 1995, Arcade (New York, NY), 2000.

All My Enemies, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1996.

The Chalon Heads, Allen & Unwin (St. Leonards, New South Wales, Australia), 1999, Arcade (New York, NY), 2001.

Silvermeadow, Orion (London, England), 2000, Arcade (New York, NY), 2002.

Babel, Orion (London, England), 2002, Arcade (New York, NY), 2003.

The Verge Practice, Arcade (New York, NY), 2003.

No Trace, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2006.


A Cambridge-educated architect by profession, Barry Maitland is the author of the popular "Kathy and Brock" series of mysteries. Born in Scotland, Maitland was raised in England, where he taught, practiced, and wrote about architecture. Among his architecture-related books are Design and Planning of Retail Systems, from 1976; Concepts of Urban Design, published in 1984; and Shopping Malls: Planning and Design, which appeared in 1985.

Maitland began writing while still a student, he told David Honeybone in an interview on the Crime Factory Web site. "It took me 30 years of writing before I had my first book published, The Marx Sisters, the first crime novel," Maitland said. Published in England in 1994, The Marx Sisters introduces the Scotland Yard police detective team of Kathy Kolla, detective sergeant, and David Brock, chief inspector. The novel concerns three elderly sisters: Meredith Winterbottom, Peg Blythe, and Eleanor Harper, great-granddaughters of Karl Marx. When Meredith is discovered dead of unknown causes, her doctor suspects foul play; she was the sole dissenter in a plan to sell the sisters' home to land developers. Kathy and Brock begin an investigation and uncover a cast of suspicious characters, including a book dealer, the land developer, an American scholar, and Meredith's son. However, the investigation is abruptly cancelled by their superiors with little progress and no solution. Then, Eleanor also turns up murdered, a collection of books and manuscripts that may have been owned by Karl Marx takes on great importance, and Kathy and Brock are on the case again.

Rex E. Klett, writing in Library Journal, remarked on the "good, solid prose" and called The Marx Sisters "fine work from an award-winning British mystery writer." Harriet Klausner, writing on the BookBrowser Web site, remarked that "the story line is crisp, filled with twists, and never lets up for a moment," declaring the book "must reading for fans of police procedurals." A Publishers Weekly critic commented on Maitland's "deft depiction of his idiosyncratic characters" and "clever use of Marxist theories and history." David Pitt, writing in Booklist, remarked that if upcoming "Kathy and Brock" books remain as "smartly constructed and as well written as this one, readers have a wonderful new series to look forward to."

Although Maitland moved to Australia in 1994 to teach architecture at the University of Newcastle, Kathy and Brock return in The Malcontenta, published in 1995. Temporarily reassigned to the Family and Juvenile Crime division, Kathy is eager to move on to more exciting duties. When a young physiotherapist is found dead at the Stanhope Naturopathic Clinic, an exclusive spa, she gladly takes on the investigation. The apparent suicide becomes more and more complicated and begins to look like a case of murder. However, Kathy is abruptly accused of making a mess of the investigation and is relieved of her duties before she can make any progress on the case. Baffled at her dismissal, she enlists Brock for help. Brock checks into Stanhope to look at things from the inside, and discovers there is much more to the case than a routine, if scandalous, suicide. A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that the book is a "superb mystery," and that "Maitland is particularly good at describing old buildings and the drab English weather," a nod to his career in architecture and upbringing in London. "The Malcontenta is what the British mystery should be," wrote S.E. Warwick on the Over My Dead Body Web site.

All My Enemies, published in 1996, is the third "Kathy and Brock" novel. Kathy investigates the brutal rape and murder of a young woman in South London, a case that begins to look more and more like the work of a serial killer. In the midst of the investigation, Kathy must deal with the sudden arrival of her Aunt Mary, an amateur thespian separated from her husband of fifty years. Kathy welcomes her aunt without complaint, but the amateur dramatic society Mary becomes involved with seems to have an unknown connection to the murder Kathy is investigating. "Maitland crafts a good story," wrote Sue Turnbull in Australian Book Review. "He also excels at the evocation of place and space, which is hardly surprising given he supports his crime writing habit as a Professor of Architecture." Natasha Cooper, writing in the Times Literary Supplement, remarked that Kathy's pursuit of the killer "is both credible and interesting, as are her dealings with her colleagues and her reactions to the violence she has to confront." Cooper ultimately found the resolution of the novel "a little hard to swallow," but Turnbull remarked that Maitland's writing "continues to fascinate and intrigue."

Writing in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, Eugen Weber remarked that "Maitland is a master of mysteries, and his latest, The Chalon Heads, is a crafty and well-crafted showpiece of the genre." Stamp collecting is the theme of this 1999 novel. Eva, the wife of millionaire philatelist Sammy Starling, has been kidnapped. Ransom notes appear, affixed with once-valuable stamps called Chalon Heads, portraits of the young Queen Victoria created by artist Alfred Edward Chalon. The prized stamps are rendered worthless by being glued to the notes. The ransom demanded is a particularly rare stamp in exchange for Eva, who bears a strong resemblance to the young Queen depicted on the Chalon Heads. As the investigation unfolds, Starling's connection to an earlier investigation of police corruption becomes troublesome, a retired police office turns up with a particular obsession with Sammy Starling, and Brock finds himself under investigation. Kathy, continuing the investigation alone, begins to wonder if Starling is a victim or a perpetrator. "This is a smart, suspenseful mystery, and fans of the series will be entirely satisfied," wrote Pitt, writing again in Booklist. Klett, in another article for Library Journal declared the book to be "detailed, literate, satisfying." A Publishers Weekly critic noted that the plot is "so deviously complicated it's sometimes hard to follow," and that sections of the book seemed to have been written on several occasions and "stitched together with the seams showing." However, the same critic noted that the story "never fails to grip." George Easter, writing on the Deadly Pleasures Web site, remarked: "For me one of the elements that lifts a crime novel from being average to being extraordinary is the ability of the author to not only surprise me with a clever ending, but to surprise me several times over the course of the book. Maitland is just such an author."

Silvermeadow, Maitland's 2000 "Kathy and Brock" novel, explores the darker side of people's obsession with shopping. Shortly after murderer and bank robber Gregory "Upper" North is seen on surveillance tape at Silvermeadow, a sprawling shopping mall in Essex, a young female mall employee is found crushed to death in an industrial box compactor. David Brock and Kathy are called in to stake out the area in search of North, but their efforts are hindered by mall management, merchants, and employees who are worried about a murder investigation's effects on their reputation and livelihood. As the investigation unfolds, doubts emerge about North's involvement at Silvermeadow—and disturbing stories of more missing girls begin to surface. Pitt, writing again in Booklist, called Silvermeadow a "tense, surprising thriller." John Boyles, writing on the Tangled Web Web site commented that the book "is well plotted and well written. Buy, beg or borrow it and look out for the previous Brock and Kolla mysteries. You will not be disappointed." A Publishers Weekly reviewer remarked that "Maitland fans surely will welcome this addition, with its fusion of commerce, detection and architecture, to his lively series."

The conclusion of Silvermeadow brought considerable trauma for Kathy, and in Babel, Maitland's 2002 "Kathy and Brock" novel, she is slowly recovering, but she is ready to seek less-stressful work. When Professor Springer, a noted philosopher, is killed on the steps of his London University office, Brock investigates. Despite initial resistance, Kathy gets involved in the case when a reporter calls her with new information on Springer's murder. The professor's views may have angered an extremist Islamic group, but other factions criticized by Springer may also be to blame. Bob Cornwell, writing on the Tangled Web Web site, commented that "Maitland writes some of the most cunning and deliciously plotted crime novels around these days and this one is no exception."

The seventh title in Maitland's "Kathy and Brock" series, The Verge Practice makes greater use of Maitland's experience as an architect along with the usual police and detective work for which the series is known. The story begins with the disappearance of architect Charles Verge and the murder of his wife. Not knowing the identity of the murderer or the location of Verge, Brock and Kathy investigate. Brock directs the investigation in London, while Kathy, battling with other obligations, sets out to investigate sightings of Verge. With an inventive and unpredictable ending, the novel further adds depth to the highly acclaimed "Kathy and Brock" series. Denise Wels praised the novel in an online review for Reviewing the Evidence, noting that "Maitland has, as usual, with his excellently written prose and wonderfully crafted plot, left the reader eager for more."

In the 2006 entry in the series, No Trace, Maitland once again portrays Brock and Kathy as they investigate a puzzling series of crimes. Two girls have been kidnapped, and after a third disappearance (the daughter of a famous artist), the crimes escalate into the murders of those in the artist's circle. Added to this are the eccentric actions of the artist, who, with the prompting of his agent, begins creating a series of works derived from his daughter's disappearance. In a review for Booklist, Pitt commented that No Trace "offers up a suspenseful story and a cast of engaging characters." A critic from Publishers Weekly also praised the novel, calling it a "haunting, unnerving work."



Australian Book Review, December, 1996-January, 1997, Sue Turnbull, review of All My Enemies, pp. 79-80; April, 2000, review of Silvermeadow, p. 46.

Booklist, May 15, 1999, David Pitt, review of The Marx Sisters,, p. 1674; August, 2000, David Pitt, review of The Malcontenta, p. 2121; June 1, 2001, David Pitt, review of The Chalon Heads, p. 1852; August, 2002, David Pitt, review of Silvermeadow, p. 1932; August, 2006, David Pitt, review of No Trace, p. 47.

Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2000, review of The Malcontenta, p. 1078; July 15, 2002, review of Silvermeadow, pp. 996-997; June 1, 2004, review of The Verge Practice, p. 520; August 15, 2006, review of No Trace, p. 812.

Law Institute Journal, March, 1995, J. Neville Turner, review of The Marx Sisters, p. 272.

Library Journal, June 1, 1999, Rex E. Klett, review of The Marx Sisters, p. 184; September 1, 1999, review of The Marx Sisters, p. 264; September 1, 2001, Rex E. Klett, review of The Chalon Heads, p. 238.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, November 18, 2001, Eugen Weber, review of The Chalon Heads, pp. 10-11.

Publishers Weekly, May 24, 1999, review of The Marx Sisters, p. 70; July 10, 2000, review of The Malcontenta, p. 48; July 16, 2001, review of The Chalon Heads, p. 161; July 29, 2002, review of Silvermeadow, p. 57; June 14, 2004, review of The Verge Practice, p. 47; July 24, 2006, review of No Trace, p. 39.

Times Literary Supplement, July 22, 1991, Julian Symons, review of The Marx Sisters, p. 21; October 25, 1996, Natasha Cooper, review of All My Enemies, p. 23.


ABC Melbourne Web site, (December 5, 2002), Sian Prior, review of Silvermeadow.

Age Online, (December 24, 2004), Debi Enker, review of No Trace.

Allen and Unwin Web site, (December 5, 2002).

Arcade Publishing Web site, (December 5, 2002).

Aussie Reviews, (February 5, 2007), review of The Verge Practice.

Barry Maitland Home Page, (February 5, 2007).

BookBrowser, (December 5, 2002), Harriet Klausner, review of The Marx Sisters.

Crime Factory, (December 5, 2002), David Honeybone, interview with Maitland.

Cybamuse, (December 5, 2002), review of Silvermeadow and All My Enemies.

Deadly Pleasures, (December 5, 2002), George Easter, review of The Chalon Heads.

Over My Dead Body, (December 5, 2002), S.E. Warwick, review of The Malcontenta.

Reviewing the Evidence, (December 5, 2007), Denise Wels, review of The Verge Practice.

Shots, (December 5, 2002), Angus Wells, review of Babel.

Tangled Web, (February 5 2007), John Boyles, review of Silvermeadow; Bob Cornwell, review of Babel.

Under the Covers,http://www.silcom/com/~manatee/utc/ (December 5, 2002), Harriet Klausner, review of The Marx Sisters.