Discussion Forums - Mystery & Thrillers

Topic: Peter Dickinson

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
  Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: Peter Dickinson
Date Posted: 3/8/2008 3:43 PM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2006
Posts: 2,024
Back To Top

I was wondering if any of you read Peter Dickinson, who wrote a number of mysteries in the 60s, 70s and 80s.  I'm reading one of his right now, and it has reminded me how much I enjoy his work.  Consistently well-written, and consistently bizarre.  Any other Dickinson fans out there?

Last Edited on: 3/8/08 5:31 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 3/8/2008 5:12 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2007
Posts: 2,408
Back To Top
I'm not trying to be nitpicky here, but did you mean Peter Dickinson? I've not read any of his stuff but I've checked out SYKM and now I'm off to the library! Thanks for the heads up!
Date Posted: 3/8/2008 5:31 PM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2006
Posts: 2,024
Back To Top

Whoops!  Thanks for catching my typo, LeeAnne.  :->

Date Posted: 3/8/2008 8:53 PM ET
Member Since: 7/5/2006
Posts: 4,669
Back To Top

Any other Dickinson fans out there?

I'm so glad you're a "dickinson fan" Kristen, I'll be sure to send you an autograph (hee hee).... it's rough to be married to one, but I guess I'm a fan too... hmmmm I wonder if the writer is any relation... we'll have to check him out :)

Date Posted: 3/8/2008 10:39 PM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2006
Posts: 2,024
Back To Top

I'm waiting with baited breath, Sam!  ;->

Date Posted: 8/21/2008 10:39 AM ET
Member Since: 7/1/2008
Posts: 2,835
Back To Top

I read a lot, and Peter Dickinson is one of my all time favorite writers. He writes books for small children, middle sized children, YA, and wonderful adult mysteries. As Kristen stated: consistently well written and consistently bizarre. he never really repeats. Even the 2 books with chimpanzees are very different. He is hard to find. He is not cozy, albeit frequently aristocratic.

He wrote for Punch for years and I really wish that we could get his collected articles from there.

  • The Glass-Sided Ants' Nest (apa Skin Deep) (1968) #
  • The Weathermonger (1968)
  • The Old English Peep-Show (apa A Pride of Heroes) (1969) #
  • Heartsease (1969)
  • The Sinful Stones (apa The Seals) (1970) #
  • The Devil's Children (1970)
  • Emma Tupper's Diary (1970)
  • Sleep and His Brother (1971) #
  • The Lizard in the Cup (1972) #
  • The Dancing Bear (1972)
  • The Green Gene (1973)
  • The Gift (1973)
  • The Iron Lion (1973)
  • The Poison Oracle (1974)
  • The Lively Dead (1975)
  • Chance, Luck and Destiny (1975) (nonfiction about probability and coincidence)
  • The Blue Hawk (1975)
  • King and Joker (1976)
  • Walking Dead (1977)
  • Annerton Pit (1977)
  • Hepzibah (1978)
  • One Foot in the Grave (1979) #
  • The Flight of Dragons (1979)
  • Tulku (1979)
  • City of Gold (1980)
  • A Summer in the Twenties (1981)
  • The Seventh Raven (1981)
  • The Last House party (1982)
  • Hind sight (1983)
  • Healer (1983)
  • Death of a Unicorn (1984)
  • Giant Cold (1984)
  • Tefuga (1985)
  • A Box of Nothing (1985)
  • Perfect Gallows (1987)
  • Mole Hole (1987)
  • Eva (1988)
  • Merlin Dreams (1988)
  • Skeleton-in-Waiting (1989)
  • AK (1990)
  • Play Dead (1992)
  • A Bone from a Dry Sea (1992)
  • Shadow of a Hero (1993)
  • Time and the Clock Mice, Etcetera (1993)
  • The Yellow Room Conspiracy (1994)
  • Chuck and Danielle (1996)
  • The Kin (1998) (apa four-volume series: Suth's Story, Noli's Story, Ko's Story, and Mana's Story)
  • Some Deaths Before Dying (1999)
  • Touch and Go (1999)
  • The Lion Tamer's Daughter (1999)
  • The Ropemaker (2001)
  • Water: Tales of the Elemental Spirits (With Robin McKinley) (apa Elementals: Water) (2002)
  • The Tears of the Salamander (2003)
  • Inside Grandad (2004) (apa The Gift Boat)
  • Angel Isle, a sequel to The Ropemaker (2006)
  • The Weir: Poems by Peter Dickinson (2007) a collection of poetry

# James Pibble series

Date Posted: 8/21/2008 10:40 AM ET
Member Since: 7/1/2008
Posts: 2,835
Back To Top

here is the link to his website. I had a lovely email exchange with him.


Date Posted: 8/21/2008 10:50 AM ET
Member Since: 7/1/2008
Posts: 2,835
Back To Top

Actually, here is the link to the page in his website where he discusses his mysteries: http://www.peterdickinson.com/Biblio_A.html

And here is a new quote by him that explains a lot of the incredible quality of his books. I may forget the mystery, but I really remember the setting and the characters. These are not easy reads.

The later books also moved nearer to the mainstream novel, though not often reviewed as such. The walls of literary ghettos are remarkably impermeable. But when The Last House-Party was specially well reviewed in the US a journalist called me from New York to ask me what I was going to do now people were taking me seriously as a writer. I couldn't think of an answer. Almost all my books have the solution of a murder puzzle as a resolving element in the plot, but in the earlier ones the rest of the book is only the context that allows the puzzle to be set and resolved, whereas in the later ones the puzzle is a mechanism that allows the book as a whole to come into existence.


Date Posted: 8/21/2008 6:43 PM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2007
Posts: 663
Back To Top

The Yellow Room Conspiracy (1994)

I thought the name sounded familiar. I have a copy of this mystery that I read years ago. Now that I've been reminded of it, it's going into the TBR pile for a second go round.


Date Posted: 8/22/2008 5:40 AM ET
Member Since: 7/1/2008
Posts: 2,835
Back To Top

There are some resemblances to this and the Mitford family. It  is one of my favorites.

Date Posted: 8/22/2008 5:57 AM ET
Member Since: 7/1/2008
Posts: 2,835
Back To Top

Also, very unusually, his series detective, James Pibble actually ages as the stories are written. In the very last one, Pibble has long retired and is in an old folk's home. He is trying to chase down the murderer with all the infirmities of the very elderly.

His novels characterized as young adult are also riveting. Eva is a child of the future whose brain is in a chimpanzee's body. Shadow of a Hero is a young woman caught up in the Balkan nationalism after the Soviet Union falls. AK is about an African boy soldier. A Bone from a Dry Sea is about 2 girls: one the comtemporary child of divorced parents visiting her archaeologist father during the holidays; the dry bone is from a long dead early form of human; their stories are told in parallel. The Blue Hawk is the story of a boy in a place like early Egypt, but it is really about freedom.

Actually, maybe all his books are about freedom.

I keep trying to say which is my favorite but I cannot. All his characters and ttheir situation seem to stay fresh in my mind.


Date Posted: 8/25/2008 5:59 AM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2006
Posts: 2,024
Back To Top

The Last Houseparty is my favorite, maybe because it's the first of his books that I read.  I have an old, beat-up paperback on my keeper shelf, and I'm 1 of 1 on the WL for a hardcover.  Anyone out there with a hardcover of this book that they're willing to part with?  Please?  Pretty please??

Date Posted: 8/25/2008 6:53 AM ET
Member Since: 7/1/2008
Posts: 2,835
Back To Top

I have slowly been acquiring the hardcovers and that one is really hard to find. eBay has been a good source, and the UK version of amazon. Every time I see one anywhere at a reasonable price, I bag it in order to give it as a gift, unless it's a hardcover  I don't have yet.

Like Ruth Rendell, he is consistently re-readable.

Kristen, have you read any of the so called Young Adults?

Some Deaths Before Dying is also one I really like (like them all!). It begins with a very old lady with motor neurone disease (slow paralysis and a sharp brain) seeing an item she knows is hers brought to Antiques Road Show by a stranger. Another main character has Alzheimer's. Together they work to solve a mystery buried in the past the 50s and a WWII Japanese prison camp building the railroad in Burma. Her husband was a colonel very much like the one in The Bridge over the River Kwai.

I am saving The Last Houseparty for when I turn 60. It was my Daddy's idea when I was 10. I was reading everything in sight, so he said I should reserve some books so I would have new ones by my favorite authors to look forward to. I have saved 2 Dickens and an Austen, a Sherlock Holmes, and others. (I have absolutely no restraint with Rendell/Vine, however, and even have my British bookseller send me the new one air mail as soon as it comes out!)

Date Posted: 8/25/2008 10:51 PM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2006
Posts: 2,024
Back To Top

What a wonderful idea from your dad, JK!

I haven't read any of the young adults, but I will need to put them on my list.  And thanks for the info re the hardcover of Last Houseparty.  I'm in no rush -- my copy is completely readable.

Date Posted: 9/20/2008 9:29 PM ET
Member Since: 7/1/2008
Posts: 2,835
Back To Top

Even though he is supposed to be a genre person, I thinkhis mysteries are more like novels, like Rendell/Vine.

I first found him on some interview with several mystery writers who said he was the mystery writer's mystery writer.

Date Posted: 10/22/2008 12:25 PM ET
Member Since: 7/1/2008
Posts: 2,835
Back To Top

Has anyone tried Peter Dickinson since Kristen and  I posted?