A long time ago
a million years BC
the best things in life
were absolutely free.
So goes the song "Pennies from Heaven", though this being the Internet, someone will probably contradict me. It's on my old tape of the original music on which the Dennis Potter TV series was based, anyway, which I played incessantly on my cassette recorder at the time. Well it wasn't a million years BC but it feels like it, when I discovered via my book club (a pre-Internet source of new-to-me authors) Nick Oldham, and an excellent, gripping trilogy Nightmare, One Dead Witness and The Last Big Job. I didn't know anything about genres in those innocent days of yore, but nowadays I'd call them Blackburn noir – tight police-procedurals with a whopping punch at the end of the last one that I read.
I then lost touch with Nick Oldham's books, so was delighted when at the recent Crime Fest meeting in Bristol when his name caught my eye on a flyer on the "swaps" table (where I was a regular visitor, donating a total of about 30 books, some bought with me and some acquired at the meeting. A bit of a digression but despite my best intentions and largely due to Karen of Euro Crime, I carried back almost as many and had to forego my life-long feminist principles and ask for a lift home from the station as my back had given up by the time I had hoisted them from Bristol across London underground to the far reaches of zone 6.)
Returning to the point: Mr Oldham's flyer says that he is an "established crime writer with 12 published crime novels to his credit", with a thirteenth in progress. Interesting, I think, knowing only of the above three titles and realising then that "trilogy" was not the correct noun. Nick Oldham took early retirement from the police force and "dedicated himself to writing about what he knows best – police work". He is running a writing course on 18-20 September 2009 at the Hayes Conference Centre in Derbyshire, UK. It is suitable for all levels, according to the flyer, including sessions on developing your plot, creating characters, realistic descriptions and setting the scene with up-to-date procedures. Writing crime fiction is not my scene, as I prefer to read it, but if you are interested in such a course, I am sure this would be an excellent choice.
Nick Oldham's website, including bibliography, diary and links to further details of the course.
Euro Crime's list of Nick Oldham's novels, in date order.
The Nothing Job is Nick Oldham's latest book, featuring DCI Henry Christie, published in May 2009.