One of the more successful British crime writers of the 1980s was B.M. Gill. She was a CWA Gold Dagger winner, yet her name is seldom mentioned today, and I think her 1981 title Victims is an eminently suitable entry for Patti Abbott’s series of Forgotten Books. She was a novelist who eschewed personal publicity, and this may account for the undeserved neglect of her work.
B.M. Gill was the pseudonym used by Barbara Margaret Trimble, who also wrote as Margaret Blake. Born in 1921, she began her crime writing career with a thriller, Target Westminster, which I haven’t read and which wasn’t conspicuously successful, but she found her feet with a sound psychological suspense novel set in a school and called Death Drop.
Victims followed. It introduces DCI Tom Maybridge, a likeable cop who returned in some of Gill’s later books. The focus of the story is on the apparent persecution of a neurosurgeon called Paul McKendrick. Three people who are associated with him are murdered – but is McKendrick the principal target?
Victims reads well to this day. It offers a good combination of detection and psychological suspense, and it’s not surprising that Gill’s writing sometimes prompted comparisons with P.D.James. She proceeded to win the CWA Gold Dagger for The Twelfth Juror, while Seminar for Murder (in which Maybridge attends a crime fiction seminar) is very enjoyable.
Unfortunately, her last crime novel, The Fifth Rapunzel, appeared as long ago as 1991, and since then, she has completely blipped off the radar. A fellow admirer tried to find out from her publishers some time ago what had happened to her, but answer came there none. All I can say is that B.M.Gill’s career may have been relatively short, but it demonstrated real accomplishment.