Suzette A. Hill
A lecturer in English Literature most of her professional life, Suzette A. Hill had never considered writing novels – and rather to her own surprise her first effort, A Load Of Old Bones, was produced at the advanced age of sixty-four. This proved to be the start of the Reverend Francis Oughterard series which, set in the sedate purlieus of 1950s Guildford, charts the dubious antics of the naive but murderous vicar and his awful cat and dog Maurice and Bouncer. Together they negotiate multiple hazards involving police, shady malcontents, crazed parishioners, drunken bishops and bulldogs, and other assorted oddballs who jeopardize the safety of the clerical assassin. An audio-book version of A Load Of Old Bones appeared in 2007 with Leslie Phillips CBE reading one of the main parts. There is also a CD of Bone Idle with the author reading the original Phillips part (not half as good!)
Following the Oughterard quintet Suzette has produced a sequel (The Primrose Pursuit) plus five further novels in the Rosy Gilchrist series – the current being The Cambridge Plot. This later series is slightly more plausible than the previous but not much, and the books should be read with a pinch of salt and a gin & tonic.
Suzette recalls, as a tiny tot at Eastbourne, being strafed by a German bomber; gazing wonderingly at Field-Marshal Montgomery when he came to tea with her granny (yes – wearing that beret!); and crunching candy kindly passed over the wall by the American G.I.s billeted in the house next door and whose interest, she suspects, lay less in herself than in her rather beautiful mother. Much later, as an undergraduate at Nottingham University, she took tea with the venerable E.M. Forster, genuflected dutifully to the Cambridge critic F.R. Leavis, and sat on the lap of the writer John Wain. On the whole she enjoyed the German bomber business best . . . but in their own way each of the encounters held a certain charm.