I love getting letters from my readers, mostly truly lovely ones, occasionally an expert in a field correcting me on a fact I have got wrong, or someone pointing out a continuity error. Every now and then I get one I consider to be a real gem, such as the one below which I thought I would share with you!
My wife and I have just read (her first) all your Roy Grace books in order. Phew!
I’ve been aware of them for some time, but they were on my get round to it list. What got me started was the East Street taxi rank.
I went there for a cab one day and all the cars were empty, and a large group of drivers was gathered in the middle, cheering and laughing. When they had finished my driver came back to the cab with one of your books in his hand. He told me he’d been reading them the extract where you slag off the council planning department for their systematic destruction of the Brighton traffic.
It was very popular.
My wife was in hospital with a broken hip, so I was using a lot of cabs. One day I got in with a lovely lady driver who had one of your books on her lap. She really enjoyed the local setting (don’t we all) and especially your deliberate mistakes, such as Luigi’s in Bond Street. (I was glad to see you put it back in Gardner Street later). She had been driving for 30 years so knew every inch of your area. She drove me twice more, a book on her lap each time, and we had some lovely conversations about you. So that set me off, and I have thoroughly enjoyed every one. You have utterly ripped my guts apart and left me exhausted. I was getting near the end of one and my wife said, “Don’t finish that just before you go to bed.”
I am claustrophobic and have a fear of heights, both perfectly logical phobias, so you really pressed my buttons on those. I have asked Malcolm Dockerill to stop selling you duct tape.
Last Friday we had lunch outside at Fishy Fishy, and I could see into LJ Bennett. They didn’t have a single customer, not even one in drag with his adam’s apple covered. I can only assume that the ladies of Brighton have read you and avoid the posh shops like the plague.
Only two other books have affected me so viscerally: The Comfort of Strangers by Ian McEwan and A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. I literally screamed at the end of both.
It’s a bugger having to wait for the next one.
I have to end by saying thank you again, and that you are, in the nicest possible way, a complete fucking bastard for what you’ve done to me and my wife.