The first three titles in the Ostara Crime imprint for 2013 all feature award-winning author Janet Neel (Baroness Cohen of Pimlico) and her series characters: police detective John McLeish and high-flying civil servant Francesca Wilson originally published between 1988 and 1993: Death’s Bright Angel, Death of A Partner and Death Among the Dons
Janet Neel’s crime novels were the first to place the traditional English detective story in the contemporary world of business, boardroom politics and Whitehall influence. She introduced the investigative duo of a thoughtful, unassuming London CID inspector and a confident – sometimes over-confident – well-connected civil servant in the Department of Trade and Industry. Not only did Neel give them both fascinating back stories, but from their first appearance in Death’s Bright Angel there was a clear chemistry in their relationship which was to develop into romance as the series continued.
This combination of strong characters, unusual but totally credible settings and the subordinate on-going themes of romance, infidelity, the claims of family, the role of women in business (and academia) and her obvious love of choral music, all combined to win Janet Neel a faithful readership on both sides of the Atlantic.
Her debut, Death’s Bright Angel, won the John Creasey Award for best first crime novel of 1988 and both Death of A Partner (1991) and Death Among the Dons (1993) were shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association’s Gold Dagger. Death Among the Dons was described by the critic T. J. Binyon as “probably the best crime novel set in a women’s college since Dorothy L. Sayers’ Gaudy Night.”
Janet Neel, the maiden name of Baroness Cohen of Pimlico, read law at Newnham College Cambridge, qualifying as a solicitor in 1965. She worked in the USA designing war games for the Department of Defense and in Britain as a civil servant in the Department of Trade and Industry before moving in to a career in merchant banking. She established two successful restaurants in London and remains a non-executive director of the London Stock Exchange as well as chairman of the Cambridge Arts Theatre. In 2000 she was appointed to the House of Lords to sit as a Labour peer with particular interest in trade matters, industry, taxation and communications.
Mike Ripley, the series editor of Ostara Crime, has known Janet Neel for over 25 years. For the story of how they started as rival crime writers but ended up “Partners in Crime”, follow the Ostara Crime links on the www.ostarapublishing.co.uk to any Janet Neel title and click for further information and the feature A TALE OF TWO ANGELS. Or go direct to: http://www.ostarapublishing.co.uk/article-129.html