It's the Fiesta de San Juan in Spain, the national celebration of the Summer Solstice, and there's much excitement about a huge firework display in the village of St Marti. But Primavera Blackstone is more inflamed by the appearance of a mysterious writer, Duncan Culshaw, who is determined to rake through the ashes of her past. And when extortion and blackmail are mentioned, Primavera realises the heat is on. Duncan has his fingers burned, playing fast and loose with the fiercely protective Prim, but when he marries a dying woman for her money, threatening the inheritance of Prim's son Tom, things are going to get explosive...but happily, there's a new guardian angel in town.
Quintin Jardine is the author of three much-acclaimed and best-selling series of detective novels, as Eddie Bell and Paul Moreton, his agents, can be heard proclaiming to anyone who is listening, at book festivals around the world.
QJ is a crusty but urbane Scot, in his prime, and done with disclosing his age. (What's that got to do with it anyway?) He was born in Motherwell, Lanarkshire, and educated there and in Glasgow, where he studied snooker and, in his leisure moments, law, at what was then the city's only University. After deciding that he would never reach professional status in either discipline, he looked towards a broader horizon. He enjoyed, most of the time, a wholly unplanned, but eventful career as a journalist, government information officer, political spin-doctor and media relations consultant, before deciding to find a job that was more in touch with reality. Thus he took to the creation of crime fiction like a Trident-loaded nuclear submarine to water.
He began work on an escape tunnel out of Motherwell in 1968; he surfaced briefly in Hamilton, but, realising very quickly that he had been heading in the wrong direction, resumed digging and three years later arrived in Gullane, East Lothian, where he has lived ever since. In recent years he has put down a second set of roots ... a physically nonsensical metaphor, but you know what he means ... in L'Escala, the only north-facing town on the Catalan Costa Brava, which is famed for its main products, anchovies, perruqueria, and more Catalans, and notorious for a north wind, the Tramuntana, which can drive its men mad, but more usually, to drink. (Its women, ever practical, simply shrug and hang out the washing.)
He is married to Eileen, a beautiful Geordie, who tolerates, with a wistful smile, most of his eccentricities, including insatiable appetites for televised sport and for playing music very loud. His first wife, the glorious Irene, with whom he shared over 30 years, from their teens, died in 1997. Today, the Jardines enjoy a happy extended family of four adult kids, a gem of a granddaughter, an elderly and very vocal Tonkinese cat, and three grand-dogs, two Labradors and a working cocker spaniel, each one as eccentric as a bag of monkeys. Today QJ and Eileen live, not as quietly as they should, in both Scotland and in Spain, although never in both places at once. Wherever they are, he can be tracked through his website, www.quintinjardine.com, and his blog quintinjardine.me
The Bob Skinner novels are set mostly in Edinburgh, and are built around the adventures of the city's wholly fictional chief constable, labelled early on by the Headline marketing department as 'Britain's toughest cop'. There are twenty-three Skinner books in publication, from the fledgling 'Skinner's Rules', nominated in 1993 for the John Creasey Award for best first crime novel of the year, to the latest Number One best-seller, 'Funeral Note', which has not been nominated as yet for anything, but which damn well should be, in the opinion of the author's wife.
The Oz Blackstone mystery series is written in the first person and follows the narrator's hapless career as an unwilling detective, with an uncanny resemblance to Keanu Reeves, as he rises to international celebrity status by a quite unexpected and unplanned route, until Keanu Reeves is seen as having an uncanny resemblance to him. His exploits began with 'Blackstone's Pursuits' and continue through eight more novels to the much-praised 'For the Death of Me'. The Blackstone series began as something QJ did on his holidays, and continues whenever he feels at his most irresponsible.
An unfortunate tendency to homicide that developed during Oz's career led to his off-stage demise. However the Blackstone standard has been raised once more, this time in Spain, by his feisty ex, Primavera, whose first adventure, 'Inhuman Remains', was published in February 2009, and followed by 'Blood Red', 'As Easy as Murder', and soon 'Deadly Business'.
In addition to these, 'The Loner', a standalone styled as the ghosted autobiography of a half-Scottish, half-Spanish journalist named Xavi Aislado, was published in 2011.
All thirty-six (so far) books are published by Headline, part of the Hachette (or Hatchet, as it was pronounced by a chairperson at the Melbourne Book Festival) Group, in mass markets throughout the English-speaking world, including the USA. They can be found in all good book stores, (that is to say those that are left) and via QJ's associate on-line retailer, www.campbellreadbooks.com, signed by the author, naturally. They are also available, through the likes of Amazon and iTunes, in downloadable digital audio and e-book formats. These days there is truly no escape.
There are hopes that one day the Skinner books will form the basis of a television series. These hopes beat strongest in the breasts of the author's publisher and agents, the man himself, having learned to believe, after a lifetime of following Motherwell Football Club, only in things that he can actually hold in his hand.