Quintin Jardine is the author of two much-acclaimed and best-selling series of detective novels, as Eddie Bell, Paul Moreton and Pat Lomax, 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 missile-loaded Trident 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 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 his second wife, 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 an extended family of four adult kids, one grandchild, the lovely Mia Abernethy Teixidor, a Tonkinese cat, and three grand-dogs, (two Labradors and a working cocker spaniel), each one as eccentric as a bag of monkeys. QJ and Eileen live, not as quietly as they should, in both Scotland and in Spain, although never in both places at once. (The first draft of that sentence ended ‘never at the same time’, but was rejected as it might have implied that they live apart.)
The Bob Skinner novels are set 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’. (Actually he was originally labelled ‘Scotland’s toughest cop’, until QJ pointed out that he hoped to sell south, as well as north, of the border.) There are twenty 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, ‘A Rush of Blood’, which has not been nominated as yet for anything, but which damn well should be, in the opinion of the author’s wife. Skinner 21, ‘Grievous Angel‘ broke new ground when it was published in June 2011, as it took readers on a journey back into Skinner’s past.
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 continued through seven more novels to the much-praised ‘Alarm Call’, and ultimately, to the ninth, last, and even more praised, ‘For the Death of Me’. The Oz series began as something QJ did on his holidays, and continued whenever he felt at his most irresponsible. An unfortunate tendency to homicidal behaviour 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, ‘Blood Red‘ following in January 2010. Primavera 3, ‘As Easy as Murder‘ is scheduled for January 2012.
The QJ catalogue is ever-expanding. On March 31, his first standalone novel, ‘The Loner‘, was published by Headline in March 2010, to a fanfare of strumpets, since that’s all the marketing budget will allow. The author is seriously excited about this book, which he describes as a ghosted autobiography. In September 2010, QJ also published ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow‘, a non-crime political fable, exclusively on the Amazon Kindle platform.
All titles apart from SOtR, are published by Headline in mass markets throughout the English speaking world, and are distributed in the USA. They are also available, if you know where to look, in large print, for the visually handicapped, unabridged audio format, for the hard of hearing. (Sorry again! QJ always gets those mixed up.), downloadable digital and e-book formats. These days there is truly no escape. There are hopes that the Skinner books will one day 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 which he can actually hold in his hand.