Meek, M.R.D. 1918-
Meek, M.R.D. 1918-
(Alison Cairns, Margaret Reid Duncan, Margaret Reid Duncan Meek)
Born March 19, 1918, in Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland; daughter of Archibald Gilloran (a marine superintendent) and Janet Duncan (a registered nurse); married Donald Gregory (a doctor), July 11, 1942 (died, 1959); married Colin Alfred Meek (a government scientist), April 21, 1978 (died, 1993); children: (first marriage) Christopher, Cressida. Education: Attended Skerry's College, 1937-38, and College of Law, Lancaster Gate, 1962-67; London University, LL.B. (with honors), 1968. Politics: Liberal. Religion: Presbyterian.
Home—Royal Herbert Pavilions, 16 Sutherland House, Gilbert Close, London SE18 4PS, England. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Severn House Publishers, 9-15 High St., Sutton, Surrey SM1 1DF, England.
Writer, novelist, and lawyer. Shorthand typist with various companies in Glasgow, Scotland, 1937-39, and with Rolls Royce, Glasgow, 1939-44; Civil Services, Waltham Abbey, Essex, England, clerical assistant, 1960-62; Smith and Harrison, Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, England, articled clerk, 1962-70; Macmillans, Wadebridge, Cornwall, England, solicitor, 1970-78. Chair of local branch of cancer research group; volunteer with Meals on Wheels.
"LENNOX KEMP" MYSTERY SERIES
With Flowers That Fell, R. Hale (London, England), 1982.
The Sitting Ducks, Collins (London, England), 1983.
Hang the Consequences, Collins (London, England), 1984, Scribner (New York, NY), 1985.
The Split Second, Collins (London, England), 1985, Scribner (New York, NY), 1987.
In Remembrance of Rose, Collins (London, England), 1986, Scribner (New York, NY), 1988.
A Worm of Doubt, Collins (London, England), 1987, Scribner (New York, NY), 1988.
A Mouthful of Sand, Collins (London, England), 1988, Scribner (New York, NY), 1989.
The Loose Connection, Scribner (New York, NY), 1989.
This Blessed Plot, Scribner (New York, NY), 1990.
Touch and Go, Scribner (New York, NY), 1992.
Postscript to Murder, Collins (London, England), 1996.
A House to Die For, Severn House (Sutton, Surrey, England), 2000.
If You Go Down to the Woods, Severn House (Sutton, Surrey, England), 2001.
The Vanishing Point, Severn House (Sutton, Surrey, England), 2003.
Kemp's Last Case, Severn House (Sutton, Surrey, England), 2005.
M.R.D. Meek was in her sixties when her first novel, With Flowers That Fell, was published in 1982. Acknowledging her "slow start at a writing career," Meek once told CA that she was held up "by marriage, children, and following my doctor-husband to post-war Germany." After her first husband died of cancer, she pursued a career in law, working in the field until she retired in 1978. Her retirement finally provided her with "time to write," she told CA.
Meek's mystery novels feature Lennox Kemp, a lawyer-detective who often finds himself attracted to women who are in trouble. Jim Huang in the St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers noted: "There is a quiet precision to M.R.D. Meek's gently witty, calmly worded, sharply insightful, and exceptionally skillful prose. The simple and economical style is quite compatible with its subject, Lennox Kemp, a superficially laconic ‘teddy bear’ of a man."
Meek has received mostly positive reviews from her critics. In the Washington Post Book World, for example, Paul Piazza called the fourth Kemp outing, A Worm of Doubt, "a traditional British whodunit of the better sort." He noted that "often author and sleuth leave the reader stumbling around in the dark, but Meek plays fair with her audience." In the Virginia Quarterly Review, This Blessed Plot was praised for its "crisp writing and a complex and satisfying plot." A Publishers Weekly critic called Touch and Go an "absorbing tale" and found that "the resolution is intriguing and the central characters … are appealing enough to engage the reader right to the end." Another critic for Publishers Weekly praised Postscript to Murder: "Meek exhibits admirable control, spinning out an intriguing mystery plot held together by believable and sympathetic characters."
In A House to Die For, Kemp is happily settled into his new house in Newton, England, a suburb of London, with his Irish-American wife, Mary. Kemp would be willing to dwell there in domestic bliss, but Mary starts to feel the need to get out a bit. The sudden death of the man next door involves Kemp, unwillingly, in the defense of the man the police consider the primary suspect in the murder. Booklist reviewer David Pitt called the novel "a competent entry in a solid series" with "engaging characters" and "sharp dialogue."
If You Go Down to the Woods finds Kemp and Mary still at home in Newton, a town pleased to have so far escaped the big-city taint of nearby London. Residents are starting to worry, however, about a local gang led by Lily Edgerton. Though the gang's behavior has not escalated to actual crime, Newtonians fear that they are involved in drugs. When a young girl is found murdered in the gang's hangout in the forest, suspicion immediately turns to Lily, whose behavior demonstrates what could be a genuine case of multiple personality disorder. Kemp must unravel Lily's involvement in the murder—if she was involved at all—and determine how the troubled young woman fits into the solving of the crime. Meek "is a plot magician who knows how to distract the reader from the significant facts until she's ready to reveal their importance," observed a Publishers Weekly contributor, who also noted that Meek "plays fair" with her readers by supplying them with real and useful clues, allowing readers to sleuth along with the redoubtable Kemp.
In The Vanishing Point, Kemp is called upon to help wealthy developer Mervyn Prentiss determine if his long-estranged wife Linde is still alive and where she may be found so that he can divorce her. Prentiss wants no trace of scandal to taint his new marriage to Alicia Dimon, daughter of Lord Allen. Kemp hires inquiry agent Henry Pocket to look for the missing Mrs. Prentiss. He traces her easily enough and discovers she is dead, but he finds the stories of her last days so contrived that there seems little possibility they can be true. Kemp and Pocket must ferret out the truth, even at the expense of the good graces of their high-paying client.
Kemp's Last Case involves the British lawyer in the unsolved murder of young Rickie Fenwick, killed twenty years earlier. Kemp's interest is sparked by articles on Fenwick's murder that he finds among the effects of a deceased client, a British physician. Unsure why his client had kept the articles, Kemp's attention is temporarily diverted when old friends Torvil and Lettice Aumary return from the United States to care for their brother, Roger, a recovering alcoholic and another old friend of Kemp's. For the sake of their old camaraderie, Kemp decides to visit Roger, but shortly afterward, Roger commits suicide. Saddened by Roger's death, Kemp is astounded to learn that Torvil and Lettice blame him for the suicide. Undaunted and determined to discover the reasons behind Roger's death, he starts an investigation that uncovers secrets that some of his acquaintances would rather keep hidden. Emily Melton, writing in Booklist, called the novel "a clever and engaging mystery starring a mild-mannered but tough-minded hero."
Meek once told CA that she believes "firmly that detective fiction is in a good literary tradition, particularly in the U.S.A.," and stated that her aim is "to write high standard fiction."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers, 4th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Booklist, January 1, 2000, David Pitt, review of A House to Die For, p. 884; October 1, 2004, Emily Melton, review of Kemp's Last Case, p. 314.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2002, review of The Vanishing Point, p. 1810.
Library Journal, June 1, 1997, Rex E. Klett, review of Postscript to Murder, p. 156; July, 2001, Rex E. Klett, review of If You Go Down to the Woods, p. 130; December 1, 2004, Rex E. Klett, review of Kemp's Last Case, p. 95.
Publishers Weekly, January 11, 1993, review of Touch and Go, p. 55; May 5, 1997, review of Postscript to Murder, p. 202; June 11, 2001, review of If You Go Down to the Woods, p. 65.
Virginia Quarterly Review, summer, 1991, review of The Blessed Plot, pp. 95-96.
Washington Post Book World, May 15, 1988, Paul Piazza, review of A Worm of Doubt, p. 8.