The Anatomy of Ghosts is Andrew Taylor’s newest book, out in the UK on the 2nd September and I won’t be getting it because of this
flaming ban I’m on. I will however, I promise you, be getting it in October without fail. It is a historical mystery/ghost story, set in 1786, in Jerusalem College, Cambridge. You can read more about it at the author’s website here.
Now, I haven’t reviewed a book by him yet for this blog, but let me assure you he is one of my favourite authors on the planet. I love him. Yes, yes – I do. There are some authors who I just click with. I know that when I open one of their books, I' can pretty much be guaranteed to have a fantastic time reading it. Andrew Taylor is the author for me.
He writes mostly historical mysteries and psychological thrillers set in England. Andrew Taylor has won many awards, several of which are from the Crime Writer’s Association including the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger for sustained excellence in crime writing. Despite this, he still has yet to achieve the kind of popularity that other crime writers such as Ian Rankin or P. D James have acquired. He might be underrated, but at least he is recognised.
One of the things I love about Andrew Taylor is that he is able to meld an almost literary style of writing with a sharp, page turning mystery which in my short experience of crime fiction, doesn’t always occur together. His speciality is creating an atmosphere that just sets you on edge. Taylor is able to create a balance that looks so easy when you read it, but must be incredibly hard to maintain whilst writing it.
He is able to eek out the story at just the right pace. They are neither slow or heart-racingly fast paced. He keeps you turning the pages again and again and again, because you want to, not because you need to. His characters are always well developed and they have a real sense of Being. He does this through small things so their development is imperceptible. He is able to get so much about a character across, in just a few words – a movement, or an expression, a way of doing something – that you feel them instantly.
Andrew Taylor has the perfect balance between good writing, good plotting and good characterisation down to an absolute tee. I feel like I can trust him completely to give me a book that I’ll love. At least, he hasn’t failed me yet and I just know he won’t ever.
Here are some of my favourite books – these aren’t just my favourite books by Andrew Taylor – but are all part of my ‘favourite books’ list. Click on the covers to be taken to the Goodreads page for a description of each of hem.
The Roth trilogy, which tells the story of a serial killer.
The Four Last Things begins in the present day when the young daughter of a vicar is kidnapped. This one feels more like your conventional police mystery however it is not. The following two books go back in time, exploring and digging through a family’s history to find the answers behind what could make such a person do what they grew up to do.
The American Boy, or The Unpardonable Crime as it is known in the US is a standalone historical mystery.
The American Boy features Edgar Allen Poe as a minor character. Nothing much is known about the famous poet’s childhood and the conditions in which he died are mysterious. All that is known is that as a boy he spent a little time in an English boarding school. Andrew Taylor imagined what happened to Poe in school and what lead to his inspirations as a famous writer later in life. It is narrated by a new master in the boarding school – Thomas Shield. He becomes teacher to the young Poe and his friend, the shy Charles Frant. Shield finds him self embroiled in the Frant family after a mysterious murder ties them all together.
The Lydmouth series is Andrew Taylor’s long running series set in a fictional town during the 1950’s.
The series title ‘Lydmouth’ is surprisingly not after the name of a character but after the town it is set in. Lydmouth is set somewhere on the border between Wales and England. In this way, it is not the conventional police crime series as it might first appear to be. I have only read the first two (of eight) and they are clearly not whodunits. The books are written from multiple perspectives in short chapters that keep the story moving very steadily. Two of the main re-occurring characters are Inspector Thornton and Jill Francis, a journalist. They are both introduced as newcomers to the town in the first book and I get the feeling that this is a series that slowly grows in strength from book to book – slowly building character relationships across the series.
These are good introductions to Andrew Taylor – they will show you what he is capable of. All three are quite different – which is another thing I really love about him is that they are all quite different from each other and he seems to be quite a strong, independent and imaginative author.
Let me know if you’ve read Andrew Taylor as I’d love to read your reviews – good or bad. I hope that I’ve been able to introduce at least one person to this fantastic author. I think if you enjoy mysteries, especially those set in a different time to ours – ones that can sometimes be a little dark – though not very violent, ones that will keep you good company that you will enjoy from beginning to end – then you’ll like Andrew Taylor.