14 December 2009

Crime Fiction Alphabet: K is Kavanagh, Brian

For this week's Crime Fiction Alphabet I've chosen someone whose work in film you may have seen without realising it.

After many years experience in the Australian Film Industry in areas of production, direction, editing and writing, Brian Kavanagh turned to writing cozies.
He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Australian Screen Editors Guild and is an accredited member. He won an Australian Film Institute award for Best Editing for FROG DREAMING (USA title THE QUEST). His first feature film which he produced and directed, A CITY'S CHILD, won an AFI award for actress Monica Maughan and was screened at the London Film Festival as well as Edinburgh, Montreal, Chicago and Adelaide, where it won the Gold Southern Cross Advertiser Award for Best Australian Film.

Brian's first novel CAPABLE OF MURDER was published in 2005
Young Australian living in London, Belinda Lawrence, is contacted by her great aunt who lives near Bath. The old lady has something important that she wants to tell her. Belinda finds her aunt's decaying body at the foot of the stairs in her cottage but appearances seem to indicate that she has had an accidental fall. Various events and coincidences convince Belinda that her aunt was in fact murdered. Belinda decides to live in the cottage she has inherited from her aunt, more people die, and she is not sure who to trust. The book takes a lot from the tradition of English village ""cosies"" and reminded me a little of books I used to read decades ago - Victoria Holt, Susan Howatch and similar "gothic" style novelists. For me it was just a little old-fashioned, but it was a quick read, and plot content was interesting enough. My rating 3.9

#2 in the Belinda Lawrence series. Set about 2 years after the first (CAPABLE OF MURDER), Belinda now has her inherited cottage set up with its re-constructed Capability Brown garden. Antique collector Hazel Whitby has furnished it with appropriate furniture and it is now on the tourist bus routes, bringing in a small income. Real estate agent Mark Sallinger completes the investigative trio as wll as providing the romance interest. On their way back from an antiques fair at Castle Howard, Belinda and Hazel call in at Kidbrooke House and are shown a framed piece of tapestry by its elderly owner. It reminds Belinda of the Bayeux tapestry and she decides she wants to see the Bayeux replica at Reading. Just after their visit to Kidbrooke House its elderly owner is murdered. Hazel buys some furniture from his deceased estate and accidentally becomes the owner of the tapestry which she gives to Belinda. This book is a delightful romp somewhat in the vein of Margaret Rutherford's interpretation of Miss Marple. I suspect Brian Kavanagh is rather enjoying writing these stories with their mixture of murder, mayhem and romance. THE EMBROIDERED CORPSE has indications that he is constantly honing his craft, and I think they would be popular with YA female readers. Try to read them in order (CAPABLE OF MURDER, then THE EMBROIDERED CORPSE). My rating 4.1

I haven't yet read the 3rd in the series BLOODY HAM but you can try a sample online

Brian's website
has various trailers and extracts for your enjoyment.

Check other contributions to the letter K:


Bernadette said...

I liked the first two books in this series and thought the second was better than the first so I really should get around to reading Bloody Ham. I particularly enjoy the mix of modern with historical elements.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Kerrie, for sharing Kavanaugh's work. It's always interesting to read work by someone who's been in one industry, like film, and takes up writing. Stephen J. Cannell did the same thing.

Dorte H said...

I read The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith when I was a young student, but I certainly don´t remember that one as cosy.

Maxine Clarke said...

Thanks for your post about this unknown to me (I think) author, Kerrie. I am learning a lot in this alphabet series! I have heard of the Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith but I don't think I read it or saw it.

William Goldman (screenwriter and novelist - The Princess Bride combining both). He wrote Adventures in the Screen Trade (wrote movies such as The Sting and (I think?) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid).

Kerrie said...

I think basically Brian retired from screen writing (adapting other writer's works to the screen), and then took up writing cozies. Since then though I think he has taken on on the odd screen writing job (but I could be wrong)

gautami tripathy said...

Thanks for highlighting this. Will check it out!

Here is my Crime Fiction Alphabet: K post!


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