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Caroline Graham is one of the few authors to have successfully transposed the 'Golden Age' into the 'Modern Age'. Graham's popularity and success lie in her ability to bring a quintessential
'English village' murder mystery into modern times but without losing that Marplesque feel.
Graham was born in Warwickshire, England, in 1931. She pursued a diverse and varied career path before finally turning to writing in the 1970s. Graham wrote primarily radio plays, eventually leading to television work.
It was not until 1982, however, that Graham achieved her true ambition and had a novel published. Fire Dance was not strictly crime fiction, and as a paperback original, is not of great interest to collectors. In 1984, The Envy of a Stranger (pictured left) was published by Century. Whilst well written and plotted, sadly it did not achieve great commercial success. This led to a brief dalliance with with childrens books, two in fact, based on the BMX cycle craze.
Finally, in 1987, Graham fulfilled her true potential and delivered
The Killings at Badger's Drift (pictured right).
As well as being selected by the CWA as one of the 100 Greatest Crime Novels, it saw the debut of Chief Inspector Barnaby. Graham's output was far from prolific with gaps of 2 to 3 years between some books. Two years after Badger's Drift, Barnaby was back in Death of a Hollow Man, followed by a new novel every two years.
Whilst Graham had a reasonable following amongst readers and also farsighted collectors, the true watershed came in 1997 when Chief Inspector Barnaby, played by John Nettles, was brought to the small screen.
It was an immediate and enduring success, with nearly 20 episodes shown to date. Nettles did an excellent job, managing to shed the potential typecasting problem from his Bergerac days. Indeed it is now impossible to read a Barnaby novel without picturing Nettles. Graham certainly deserves a place on any reader's or collector's shelves with Inspector Barnaby taking his rightful place with Morse, Wexford and Frost.
To view the Caroline Graham bibliography Click Here
Text © 2003 R.D. Collins
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