I first came across Paul Johnston back in the 1990s, on a memorable evening at the Law Society Hall in Chancery Lane, when at the CWA Dagger Awards dinner, he won the award for the best first crime novel of the year. In those days, Paul and I were both published by Hodder, and our paths continued to cross as the years passed.
After earning a great deal of critical acclaim for his first series, set in an Edinburgh of the future, Paul developed a second series set in Greece – where he has lived for a number of years. Like most crime writers, he experienced a few ups and downs, most particularly including a serious illness. But I was delighted when a few years ago he bounced back very impressively with a highly readable revenge thriller, The Death List, featuring a new protagonist (a writer!) and published by a mass-market publisher who seemed to achieve great success in selling their books in vast quantities.
I had the chance to talk with Paul at Bristol recently and learned that not only does he have a new book, Maps of Hell, coming out imminently, but also that some of his early titles are to be republished by Severn House. This is good news, especially since one of the depressing features of modern publishing is the way in which enjoyable books published not too long ago disappear from sight because there are so soon out of print.
It was also good to see Paul triumph in the Mastermind contest, despite strong performances from Lauren Henderson and John Curran. Paul's special subject was Sherlock Holmes, and his wide knowledge of the genre past and present was a reminder that even a very modern writer can be enthusiastic about the work of predecessors from previous generations.