I just learned from Martin Edwards’s blog that Robert Barnard has passed away. Barnard has long been one of my favorite writers of crime fiction. He was a master of the cozy style of British mystery writing; as Mike Ripley says in his appreciation, “It was a term he [Barnard] never denied or disparaged as he felt strongly that the goal of the crime writer was simply to entertain.” It’s something he did wonderfully well.
In addition to mysteries, Robert Barnard authored studies of Agatha Christie and Charles Dickens. He was also a stalwart of the Bronte Society. We had the great good fortune to hear him speak in 2007, at the Bronte Parsonage in Haworth. I wrote about this memorable occasion in a post entitled Haworth and the Brontes. I included several snapshots of Barnard and others in this post. Click on the thumbnails and they become full size. (This event was part of a Smithsonian Journeys Mystery Lovers Tour.)
In addition to numerous standalone novels, Robert Barnard authored several series. Most recently his police procedurals have featured Charlie Peace, who first worked out of Scotland Yard and subsequently moved north to Leeds. The novel on the reading list for the Smithsonian trip was from an earlier series featuring Perry Trethowen of Scotland Yard. It was called Death by Sheer Torture, and I found it wonderfully entertaining. Click here for a complete list of Barnard’s crime fiction. (Please note that four novels were written under the name Bernard Bastable.)
Martin Edwards has written a fine piece on Barnard’s life and work for Mystery Scene Magazine. The article is already posted on his site.
In addition to Death by Sheer Torture, I’ve written up several other Barnard’s titles in this space: A Fall from Grace, Last Post, and A Stranger in the Family. Other favorites of mine from among his works are:
In 2003, the Crime Writers’ Association of Great Britain awarded the Cartier Diamond Dagger to Robert Barnard for lifetime achievement in crime writing.