Taylor, Andrew 1951–
Taylor, Andrew 1951–
(Andrew Saville, Andrew John Robert Taylor, John Robert Taylor)
PERSONAL: Born October 14, 1951, in Stevenage, England; son of Arthur John (a teacher and minister) and Hilda (a physiotherapist; maiden name, Haines) Taylor; married Caroline Silverwood (a librarian), September 8, 1979; children: Sarah Jessica, William John Alexander. Education: Emmanuel College, Cambridge, B.A. (with honors), 1973, M.A., 1976; University of London, M.A., 1979.
ADDRESSES: Agent—Sheil Land Associates, 43 Doughty St., London WC1N 2LF, England. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Borough of Brent, London, England, librarian, 1976–78, 1979–81; freelance writer and subeditor for London area publishers, 1981–.
MEMBER: Crime Writers Association, Society of Authors.
AWARDS, HONORS: John Creasey Memorial Award, Crime Writers Association, 1982, and Edgar Award nomination, Mystery Writers of America, both for Caroline Minuscule; Gold Dagger nomination, Crime Writers Association, 1985, for Our Fathers' Lies; Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award, Crime Writers Association, 2001, for Office of the Dead, 2003, for The American Boy; Audie Award, for The American Boy.
Caroline Minuscule, Gollancz (London, England), 1982, Dodd (New York, NY), 1983.
Waiting for the End of the World, Dodd (New York, NY), 1984.
Our Fathers' Lies, Dodd (New York, NY), 1985.
An Old School Tie, Dodd (New York, NY), 1986.
Freelance Death, Gollancz (London, England), 1987, Dodd (New York, NY), 1988.
Blood Relation, Gollancz (London, England), 1990, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1991.
The Sleeping Policeman, Gollancz (London, England), 1992.
Odd Man Out, Gollancz (London, England), 1993.
"THE BLAINES" TRILOGY
The Second Midnight, Dodd (New York, NY), 1987.
Blacklist, Collins (London, England), 1988.
Toyshop, Collins (London, England), 1990.
An Air that Kills, Hodder and Stoughton (London, England), 1994, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1995.
The Mortal Sickness, Hodder and Stoughton (London, England), 1995, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1996.
The Lover of the Grave, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1997.
The Suffocating Night, Hodder and Stoughton (London, England), 1998.
Where Roses Fade, Hodder and Stoughton (London, England), 2000.
Death's Own Door, Hodder and Stoughton (London, England), 2001.
Call the Dying, Hodder and Stoughton (London, England), 2004.
The Four Last Things, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1997.
The Judgment of Strangers, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1998.
The Office of the Dead, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 2000.
"BERGERAC" SERIES; UNDER PSEUDONYM ANDREW SAVILLE
Bergerac, Panther (London, England), 1985.
Bergerac Is Back!, Severn House (London, England), 1985.
Bergerac and the Fatal Weakness, Severn House (London, England), 1988.
Bergerac and the Jersey Rose, Penguin (London, England), 1988.
Bergerac and the Moving Fever, Penguin (London, England), 1988.
Bergerac and the Traitor's Child, Severn House (London, England), 1989.
CRIME AND THRILLER NOVELS
(Under name John Robert Taylor) Hairline Cracks (young adult), Dutton/Lodestar (New York, NY), 1988.
(Under name John Robert Taylor) The Private Nose (juvenile), Walker (London, England), 1989, Candlewick (New York, NY), 1993.
Snapshot (young adult), Collins (London, England), 1989.
Double Exposure (young adult), Collins (London, England), 1990.
The Raven on the Water, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1991.
Negative Image (young adult), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992.
The Barred Window, Sinclair Stevenson (London, England), 1993.
The Invader (young adult), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1994.
The American Boy, Flamingo (London, England), 2003, published as An Unpardonable Crime, Theia (New York, NY), 2004.
ADAPTATIONS: Caroline Minuscule was adapted for radio by the British Broadcasting Corp.
SIDELIGHTS: Andrew Taylor has written mysteries, espionage thrillers, and young adult novels. His best-known works are the novel, Caroline Minuscule, and the "Roth Trilogy," in which Taylor tells his story in reverse order, beginning with the present day and moving backwards in time to the 1950s.
Taylor's first novel, Caroline Minuscule, tells the story of university graduate student William Dougal, who decides not to report a murder in order that he may profit from it. Although a crime story, the novel is also a portrait of a young man unexpectedly drawn into an amoral way of dealing with the world. "Much of the appeal," noted a writer in the St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers, "lies in the way that our everyday world so swiftly comes to seem so bizarre and richly comic…. Taylor's quick intelligent eye notes the comic oddities of a society from which William and [his girlfriend] Amanda become more and more detached until they are mere visitors, sharks drifting past." Dougal has gone on to appear in a number of other Taylor novels.
In the "Roth Trilogy," which consists of The Four Last Things, The Judgment of Strangers, and The Office of the Dead, Taylor begins his story with the 1995 kidnapping of a young girl, then traces his characters back in time to discover the reasons behind the crime. In The Four Last Things, Sally and Michael Appleyard's four-year-old daughter, Lucy, is kidnapped by a female serial killer. Told through shifting points of view, the story follows the desperate efforts of the police to track down the criminals. The story continues in The Judgment of Strangers, which is set some twenty-five years earlier. It traces Appleyard's childhood visit to his godfather, the vicar of a suburb of London, and the morbid consequences of that visit. The Office of the Dead, set in the late 1950s, ties the criminal events of the present to those of the distant past. A Kirkus Reviews critic dubbed the "Roth Trilogy," "an uncommonly rich tour de force."
An Unpardonable Crime, which was originally published in England as The American Boy, is set in London of 1819, a particularly squalid period and an especially seedy section of the city. The book also has a distinct connection to the literary legend of Edgar Allan Poe. In the novel, Thomas Shield is a former soldier who has turned to teaching to make his living. His position teaching Latin to groups of bored schoolboys is unsatisfying and stultifying. One of Shield's students, an American named Edgar Allan (not yet Poe), befriends one of the bullies' favorite targets, Charlie Frant, the son of a banker. As the story progresses, Shield becomes reluctantly involved in Charlie's turbulent home life. However, other elements of the Frant household are more attractive, including Charlie's mother, Sophie, and cousin Flora. When Charlie's father is brutally murdered, he becomes even more involved in the family's affairs after being called upon to identify the body. Shield has to contend, too, with the appearance of Edgar's father, David, an actor and a menacing and unpredictable presence. With Henry Frant dead, it seems that Shield has no obstacles to his courting of the beautiful Sophie, but he has strong suspicions that the body that was supposed to be Frant's was, in fact, someone else's.
The novel stands as a "carefully constructed Gothic mystery, whose layered intrigues encompass inheritance, romance, treason, incest, and fraud," noted Michael Carlson in the Spectator. Taylor "knits his considerable skills as a crime writer and as a master of historical detail into a smooth, agreeably complex solution of two mysteries in the life of the real-life Poe," noted a Kirkus Reviews contributor, these being the early disappearance his actor father and Poe's own disappearance years later. Taylor "does an excellent job in portraying early 19th-century London and writes in a clear, consistent period style," commented a reviewer in Publishers Weekly. "Despite the shopworn elements, Taylor constructs an entertaining, sometimes enchanting, world," stated People reviewer Ron Givens. Carlson concluded that the novel "should satisfy those drawn to the fictions of the 19th century, or Poe, or indeed to crime writing at its most creative."
Taylor once told CA: "The urge to write fiction is mysterious, but you ignore it at your peril. For most of my twenties I was one of those writers who managed to avoid actually writing anything. One lunchtime on a grey February in 1980, I realized that a lifetime of undemanding and unsatisfying jobs stretched before me: if I didn't start writing now, I never would. Then and there, I pushed aside the sandwich crumbs and scribbled the first few pages of what eventually became Caroline Minuscule. Long before I'd finished the first draft, I knew I was hooked. Before the book had been accepted by a publisher, I left my safe, sensible job and became precariously self-employed.
"I chose to write a crime novel because I knew and liked the genre. Although my work has broadened out—I have written adventure thrillers, psychological novels and espionage, as well as mysteries—crime remains a constant ingredient. Patricia Highsmith remarked in her Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction that a wise author knows what makes his or her creative juices flow. For me, crime in fiction offers a way of revealing and examining both character and society: under stress we show ourselves as we really are. I am fascinated, too, by the long shadows cast by events in the past, and by the way in which family life acts on personality as an emotional hothouse, forcing strange growths.
"Since 1981 I have been fortunate enough to make my living as a writer. In that time I have written over twenty books, including some for children. I see myself primarily as a storyteller whose medium happens to be the written word. My novels sell in English and in translation. Writing fiction is hard work and still financially precarious; it's both a business and a vocation; and I would not happily do anything else. In writing fiction there are no rules, only precedents you may or may not follow. When I talk to writers' classes, I can give only one piece of advice with absolute confidence. And that is: write."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers, 4th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Booklist, January 1, 2004, Connie Fletcher, review of An Unpardonable Crime, p. 835; July, 2004, Candace Smith, review of An Unpardonable Crime, p. 1856.
Bookseller, December 5, 2003, "Andrew Taylor," p. 29.
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 1997, review of The Lover of the Grave, p. 1072; November 1, 1997, review of The Four Last Things, p. 1610; September 15, 1998, review of The Judgment of Strangers, p. 1336; June 15, 2000, review of The Office of the Dead, p. 839; December 15, 2003, review of An Unpardonable Crime, p. 1421.
Library Journal, November 1, 1998, Rex E. Klett, review of The Judgment of Strangers, p. 128; January, 2004, Laurel Bliss, review of An Unpardonable Crime, p. 166.
M2 Best Books, October 27, 2003, "Andrew Taylor Wins Ellis Peters Dagger for Second Time"; January 5, 2004, "Crime Writer Signs to Penguin."
New York Times Book Review, July 21, 1996, Marilyn Stasio, review of The Mortal Sickness, p. 25; August 10, 1997, review of The Lover of the Grave, p. 18; December 28, 1997, Marilyn Stasio, review of The Four Last Things, p. 18.
People, April 19, 2004, Ron Givens, review of An Unpardonable Crime, p. 50.
Publishers Weekly, June 3, 1996, review of The Mortal Sickness, p. 66; November 10, 1997, review of The Four Last Things, p. 59; August 24, 1998, review of The Judgment of Strangers, p. 52; November 10, 2003, review of An Unpardonable Crime, p. 39.
Spectator, May 6, 1995, review of An Air that Kills, p. 45; December 16, 1995, review of The Mortal Sickness, p. 76; August 2, 2003, Michael Carlson, "The Haunting Presence of Poe," review of The American Boy, p. 31; October 23, 2004, Harriet Waugh, review of Call the Dying, p. 58.
Times Literary Supplement, January 29, 1993, review of The Barred Window, p. 20; July 31, 1998, review of The Judgment of Strangers, p. 20; February 4, 2000, review of The Office of the Dead, p. 22.
Andrew Taylor's Home Page, http://www.lydmouth.demon.co.uk (October 14, 2005).