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THE BIBLIO FILE is one of the world's leading podcasts about "the book," and an inquiry into the wider world of book culture. Hosted by Nigel Beale it features wide ranging, long-form conversations with authors, poets, book publishers, booksellers, book editors, book collectors, book makers, book scholars, book critics, book designers, book publicists, literary agents and many others - inside the book trade and out - from writer to reader. 

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Apr 21, 2008

William Deverell, has been widely hailed as Canada’s greatest ‘literary mystery’ writer. This from his website:

"Deverell worked as a journalist for seven years, with Canadian Press Montreal, the Vancouver Sun and the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, where he was night city editor while at the University of Saskatchewan law school and editor of the student newspaper.

As a member of the British Columbia, Alberta and Yukon Bars, he was counsel in more than a thousand criminal cases, including thirty murder trials, either as defender or prosecutor. He is a founding director, former president, now honorary director of the B. C. Civil Liberties Association.

His first novel, Needles, won the $50,000 Seal Prize in l979 and the Book of the Year Award in l98l. His subsequent novels include High Crimes, Mecca,The Dance of Shiva, Platinum Blues, Mindfield, Kill All the Lawyers, Street Legal – the Betrayal, and he is author of the true crime book A Life on Trial – The Case of Robert Frisbee, based on a notorious murder trial which he defended…Trial of Passion won Canada’s 1997 Arthur Ellis prize in crime writing, and the Dashiell Hammett award for literary excellence in crime writing in North America. "

Our conversation explores Deverell’s oeuvre in light of the question: How to write a great crime novel? Humour, complex characters, contentious relationships and appropriate use of ‘the clock’ all feature prominently in Deverell’s work, and contribute to what makes it award winning.  

Twenty odd years ago my wife and I rented a cottage perched at the edge of the Rideau River for a weekend getaway. I cracked Deverell’s Dance of the Shiva shortly after arriving. Couldn’t get away from it. Couldn’t put it down. After finishing it, couldn’t understand why Deverell wasn’t as popular as Turow, Cornwell, Ellroy or Rendell. Still can’t.