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May, Peter 1951-

May, Peter 1951-


Born 1951, in Glasgow, Scotland; married Janice Hally; children: Carol. Education: National Council for the Training of Journalists, graduate.




Novelist and freelance writer. Paisley Daily Express, news and features reporter, 1971-74; Scotsman, Glasgow, Scotland, reporter, 1974-78; Glasgow Evening Times, Glasgow, news background writer, 1978-79.


Chinese Crime Writers' Association (honorary member of Beijing chapter).


Named Scottish Young Journalist of the Year, 1973; International Celtic Film and Television Festival prize for best drama serial, 1996, for Machair; Elle Grand Prix for best crime novel, 2006, for The Firemaker.



The Reporter, Corgi (London, England), 1978.

Hidden Faces, Piatkus (London, England), 1981.

The Noble Path, Piatkus (London, England), 1992.

The Killing Room, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 2000.

Snakehead, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 2002.

The Runner, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 2003.

Chinese Whispers, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 2004.

The Firemaker, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2005.

Extraordinary People, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2006.

The Fourth Sacrifice, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2007.


The Standard (drama series), British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC), 1978.

Take the High Road (drama series), Scottish Television, 1980-1992.

Squadron (drama series), BBC, 1982.

The Ardlamont Mystery (single play dramatization), BBC, 1985.

Machair (drama series), Scottish Television, 1992-1993.

Television producer and writer for the BBC and Independent Television (ITV). Author of the blog Peter May Live.


Peter May began writing as a teenager and, intending to find some way to make a living at his hobby, enrolled in a year-long journalism course. Within two years at his first newspaper job, he was named Scottish Young Journalist of the Year and went on to write for both local and national papers. By the early 1980s, May had branched off career-wise into the television industry, producing and writing dramatic series for several British broadcasting networks. May's first novel was published when he was still in his twenties, and over the next thirty years he earned distinction as a crime writer, both in his native Britain and abroad. In an interview with Shots magazine contributor Ayo Onatade, May described the draw of writing crime fiction: "Crime is a great way of examining the human condition because it is looking for flaws under stress effectively and crime is always stressful, both for the perpetrator and the victim. So a crime story of any kind is putting the human condition under a microscope in a very stressful situation and that's great, because that's where we get under people's skins and into people's heads and the stories."

May's early books—The Reporter, Hidden Faces, and The Noble Path—are thrillers with an international flavor, set in such varied locales as Brussels and Cambodia. The Firemaker marked the first novel in a series of thrillers set in China. The series features an American forensic pathologist stationed in Beijing who teams up with a local detective to solve crimes. Booklist reviewer David Pitt commented: "It's a pleasure to be introduced to these two investigators." The Firemaker is a "tale that satisfies as a mystery, a romantic adventure and a fascinating look at the new China," remarked a Kirkus Reviews contributor. Another novel in the series, The Fourth Sacrifice, was described by a Publishers Weekly reviewer as a "well-plotted follow-up" that "amplifies his [May's] vivid picture of a chaotic, vital modern-day China." May was selected by the Beijing chapter of the Chinese Crime Writers' Association to become an honorary member, the first Westerner to achieve the designation.

In 2006 May debuted another series with the character of Enzo Macleod, a Scottish forensic biologist living in France who gets drawn into solving a high-profile murder case gone cold. Describing Extraordinary People, a contributor to Kirkus Reviews maintained that May "provides abundant local color and writes with measured authority. The results are as engaging as they are cerebral." The novel "makes for a fun puzzle," wrote a reviewer for Publishers Weekly.



Booklist, September 1, 2005, David Pitt, review of The Firemaker, p. 70.

Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2005, review of The Firemaker, p. 768; September 15, 2006, review of Extraordinary People, p. 931.

Publishers Weekly, September 4, 2006, review of Extraordinary People, p. 42; December 11, 2006, review of The Fourth Sacrifice, p. 48.


Peter May Home Page, (March 27, 2007).

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