Recently I’ve got back into an author I discovered about 20 years ago.
Back at the end of 1991 I remember finding a newly published paperback called The Serpent’s Mark by an author called Robert L Duncan. The subject matter appealed to me. This was a book about a detective hunting for a serial killer, and remember 1991 was very much the era of The Silence of the Lambs. In any case I bought the books on the strength of the cover, the blurb and the fact that the author used the word ‘ostensibly’ on the first page.
I enjoyed the book but as I was reading it I had a hunch the author had written a previous book with his detective Stein character. Sure enough he’d written a book in the 1980s called In the Blood with Stein hunting a killer called W. W. Burr.
From then on I always kept an eye out for his books when browsing through second-hand books shops and gradually built up a collection of his out of print books. Some I read such as Firestorm, Brimstone and The Queen’s Messenger. Others I never got around to reading.
Now 20 years on I’ve finally read The February Plan and have re-read In the Blood, a novel that would put most of today’s thriller writers to shame with the compulsive way the minds of the killer and the detective hunting him are described.
Here’s the list of the novels that I’m aware of, although I believe there may be some other, earlier books.
1964 – The Q Document (as James Hall Roberts)
1966 – The Burning Sky (as James Hall Roberts)
1967 – The February Plan (as James Hall Roberts)
1970 – The Day the Sun Fell
1975 – Dragons at the Gate
1977 – Temple Dogs
1978 – Firestorm
1980 – Brimstone
1982 – The Queen’s Messenger (as W R Duncan)
1985 – In the Blood
1985 – In the Enemy Camp
1988 – China Dawn
1990 – The Serpent’s Mark