I first came across the name Peter James when I was in City Books, an independent bookshop in Brighton. The book had a picture of The Palace Pier on the cover. I bought it. It was by Peter James. (there’s a follow up to this incident but that’s for another time.)
I realised that he’d written a series of books about a detective in Brighton and all of them had Dead in the title. A clever marketing ploy. Whatever, I was hooked.
I discovered that Mr James was vocal about crime writers not being taken ‘seriously’. I suppose he meant that they were never considered as contenders for the Booker Prize etc. It seems that all the ‘serious‘ books, that he wants to be a part of are mainly reviewed the Guardian Review.
I have bought as few from that esteemed publication and without exception they have been obscure and mainly incomprehensible. They are bought mainly, I assume, by so called intellectuals, who like to be in the swim and prove that they read the ‘posh’ papers. Some books do escape those dusty confines and become best sellers.
It reminds me of the 60’s and 70’s when everybody seemed to be carrying copies of ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.‘ The author of this tome was Peter M. Pirsig who sold 5,000,000 copies of it world wide. But I never found anyone who had actually read it.
Getting a taxi to Brighton station the other day, the driver said how much he loved London.
‘I’m going up tonight.‘ he said. ‘I’m going to pick up a writer who’s signing books in Waterstones in Piccadilly. His name is Peter James.’
I rushed to my Guardian Review of that week, which lists authors who signing at various venues, looking for Mr James. But he wasn’t listed.
Thank your lucky stars, Mr James, that paper is the kiss of death.
Incidentally, not a bad title if you switch around. Kiss Of The Dead.