Mystery Authors You May Have Missed
Peter Dickinson

Photo of Peter Dickinson

Peter Dickinson says he is a writer, “the way a goldfish is a goldfish and can’t be anything else.” He is true to his word. The author of over fifty works, spanning multiple genres and forms from poetry, picture stories for children and crime mysteries for adults, Dickinson lives to write.

Born in Zambia (then Rhodesia), his family moved to England so he could receive a proper education. After college and the end of World War II, he landed a job as an editor and poet for Punch magazine. In 1968, at the age of forty-one, he published Skin Deep, which won the Crime Writers’ Association’s Gold Dagger Award. That book began the James Pibble series for which he wrote five other books. He currently lives with his wife, the writer Robin McKinley, in the south of England.

What he writes: Although he has written many books for young adults and children, adult readers know him for his subtly crafted, suspenseful mysteries such as Perfect Gallows and Some Deaths Before Dying. Although he has written one award winning series (James Pibble), many of his standalone, psychologically twisting novels continue to delight mystery fans. His settings are English country houses, World War II, and the Thatcher era.


List of works
James Pibble series
  The Glass-Sided Ants' Nest (1968) - also published as Skin Deep
  The Old English Peepshow (1969) - also published as A Pride of Heroes
  The Sinful Stones (1970) - also published as The Seals
  Sleep and His Brother (1971)
  The Lizard in the Cup (1972)
  One Foot in the Grave (1979)
Other novels
  The Green Gene (1973) Hindsight (1983)
  The Poison Oracle (1974) Death of a Unicorn (1984)
  The Lively Dead (1975) Tefuga (1985)
  The Blue Hawk (1975) Skeleton-in-Waiting (1987)
  King and Joker (1976) Perfect Gallows (1988)
  Walking Dead (1977) Play Dead (1991)
  A Summer in the Twenties (1981) The Yellow Room Conspiracy (1992)
  The Last Houseparty (1982) Some Deaths Before Dying (1999)


Crime Writers' Association's Gold Dagger for Skin Deep in 1968 and A Pride of Heroes in 1969.

Guardian Award in 1977 for The Blue Hawk.

Whitbread prize for best children's book in 1979 for Tulku.

Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Eva.

What the critics say
Regarding Some Deaths Before Dying - "His first mystery in five years gives ample evidence that Dickinson, an award-winning storyteller whose first novel was published in 1968, can still entrance readers with superbly drawn tales. He knows how to construct an atmospheric English country house mystery as do few other contemporary writers, and he can build a complex plot as skillfully as ever." - Publisher’s Weekly
Regarding Perfect Gallows - "Dickinson portrays the war years to poignant effect and offers a compelling cast, but his real gift lies in the quiet, almost casual way he is able to build tension. Of all the writers who attempt to elevate the traditionally lowbrow suspense genre to a loftier plane, Dickinson may be the most successful." - Booklist
Regarding The Yellow Room Conspiracy - "Deft and absorbing, Dickinson's latest is as much a story of enduring love--of people and a way of life--as it is an intriguing mystery." -Publisher’s Weekly


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