The Crime Writer

the crime writer

‘You do not need to be a passionate Highsmith fan to admire this beautifully written and elegant novel’
– The Literary Review


Jill Dawson’s new novel, The Crime Writer, was published by Sceptre on June 2nd 2016. Film rights currently available.

‘This fascinating, skilfully constructed novel builds a convincing picture of Patricia Highsmith, her spiky, awkward intelligence and (in a phrase of her biographer, Joan Schenkar) ‘the low, flat, compellingly psychotic murmur’ of both her life and her prose.’
-The Spectator (read the full review here)

It’s 1964 and the eccentric American novelist Patricia Highsmith is hiding out in a cottage in Suffolk, England, in order to concentrate on her writing. She has other motives too – a secret romance with a married lover based in London, and her dislike of the fame and attention that has followed her since her first novel (Strangers on a Train) was made into a Hitchcock film, and her fourth, The Talented Mr Ripley was published to such acclaim.

‘Funny, horrific and moving in turn this is a riveting read and an intriguing glimpse into the murky depths of an extraordinary writer.

the crime writer
Patricia Highsmith

Unfortunately it soon becomes clear that Pat is not alone: all her demons have come with her. Prowlers, sexual obsessives, frauds, imposters, suicides and murderers: the tropes of her fictions clamour for her attention, rudely intruding on her peaceful Suffolk retreat.

‘…a hugely compelling read, jam-packed full of tensions and psychological insight, all beautifully observed.’
– Sunday Express

After the arrival of Ginny, an enigmatic young journalist who would like to interview her, events begin to turn catastrophically dark, but as always in Pat’s troubled and eventful life, perhaps things are not as they seem…

A beautifully crafted and utterly riveting blend of fact and fiction about a fascinating 20th-century figure.’
-Daily Mail (read the full review here)

Jill Dawson is renowned for her novels revisiting known stories and famous figures, such as the wild boy of Aveyron, the poet Rupert Brooke or the hanged murderess Edith Thompson. Here she fuses biographical facts about Highsmith’s life with audacious recreations of Highsmith’s much exercised fantasies of murder, madness and revenge. The result is a sexy, dazzling tale that touches the darkest reaches of the human imagination.

Todd Haynes’s film of Highsmith’s only openly lesbian novel, Carol, is about to premiere in Cannes, starring Cate Blanchett. Novelist Jill Dawson writes about the women behind the book here.

Jill Dawson goes in search of Highsmith’s childhood: ‘a little hell’.
More here.

Death and Texas
Jill Dawson travels to Fort Worth, Texas, and finds the source of Patricia Highsmith’s pain.
Read ›

Jill Dawson travels to Fort Worth, Texas in search of Patricia Highmith’s early influences.
More here.

imageThe Crime Writer won both the novel section of the East Anglian Book Awards and overall Book of the Year

More details here