Andrew Taylor

Crime and Historical Novelist

Introducing Lydmouth

Eight Lydmouth novels (and one short story) have now been published. The books are set in and around a fictional town on the Anglo-Welsh borders in the years after World War II. The latest in the series is Naked to the Hangman.  The headings on the left list the books in order of publication, which is also the order of the fictional chrononology.  

Lydmouth and its hinterland form a provincial society which was typical of the period - still relatively self-contained; conservative; instinctively wary of a world which was about to change beyond recognition. Time and place are essential ingredients of the series, which moves steadily through the decade towards the 1960s. The links on the right list the titles in chronological order.

One critic called the first novel 'Middlemarch with murders', though some have suggested the series has more than a dash of David Lynch'sTwin Peaks . H.R.F.Keating said of the second novel, 'A comparison with P.D.James springs to is all of life that Andrew Taylor is concerned with.' Each book is an independent mystery novel but the series as a whole is designed to create a picture of an entire society in a time of change.

The protagonists are both outsiders - like the reader, they gradually discover more and more about Lydmouth. Jill Francis is a journalist from London, running away from sad secrets in her past. Detective Inspector Richard Thornhill comes from the Fens of East Anglia; his inclinations are permanently at war with his puritan inheritance. Their forbidden and unwanted attraction to each other is one of the central strands of the series. There are many other recurring characters, taken from all levels in society.

Though the novels are set in the 1950s, they do not attempt to replicate the traditional Golden Age detective story (apart from some friendly mockery of its conventions). 'Whydunnit' is often as interesting as 'whodunnit'. The novels often draw on motives and situations that are characteristic of the period in which they are set.

All of the titles are - and will - be taken from the poetry of A.E.Housman. A Shropshire Lad captures perfectly not only the brooding atmosphere appropriate to a mystery series but also the sense of a border setting - of an area which is not quite England, not quite Wales: but wholly itself.

The series have been published in the UK, the US (St Martin's), Germany (Goldmann), Denmark (Klim), Norway (Fagbokforlaget) and Poland (Zysk-I-Ska).

There are also four Lydmouth short stories.