Aside from The Resident Weeble and A Piece of Pandemonium, my favourite writer of all time is Evan Hunter. Well I say that, it is under the name of Ed McBain that I first became aware of his work. My Mother had mentioned to me that I might enjoy his books. So I was overjoyed to find “Rumpelstiltskin” in the school library. I literally launched the book at my mother on my return from school. I of course forgot, that my Mother was recovering from major surgery and therefore didn’t appreciate me lobbing a hardback book in her general direction.
At my school we had reading in English lessons, I brought Rumpelstiltskin along as it was the book I was reading at the time. It is the second book in the Matthew Hope series. All of them named after fairy tales or fables. Matthew Hope is a lawyer who does a fair bit of investigating as part of his cases. In Rumpelstiltskin is he dating a redhead (whos name escapes me), they met thanks to a minor traffic ding. There is a scene in the book where Matthew Hope gets to have sex with the girl. A scene not lost on my then horny teenage self. Unfortunately for me my English teacher then decides to take the book and read the sexy passage aloud. Much to the amusement of my class mates. Can’t have got to me that much because I remember burning the midnight oil to finish it.
McBain’s greatest work is the 87th Precinct series of books. All about the detectives and characters in the fictional city of Isola. Which is for all intents and purposes is New York in all but name. I love the police procedural genre of fiction and McBain was a master of this. His work is a large reason why I write now, it inspired me to continue writing fictional pieces on a quest to find my own voice as a writer. This blog is a testament to that.
For all you film buffs out there. Evan Hunter wrote the screenplay to The Birds. A film which is being spoken about again thanks to the Hitchcock film and BBC drama The Girl. Hunter wrote a memoir about his time working with Hitchcock, called ‘Me and Hitch’ which is well worth a read.
Evan Hunter died in 2005. Hunter/McBain is one that seems to constantly get missed when people start talking of great writers. He is therefore maybe one that you have missed too. If you like your characters to be “real”, your stories to be gritty and to pull no punches. Take a trip down to the 87th. You won’t regret it.