Jonathan Gash

Gash is best known for his long-running Lovejoy series, which began in 1977 with The Judas Pair. Lovejoy, a seedy East Anglican antique dealer, is capable of all the sins in the book, up to and including murder. Yet he lures readers with his charm, his flashes of generosity and his expertise on his beloved antiques.

The TV series starring Ian McShane sanitised Lovejoy; fortunately, the books continue to remind us what he is really like. Last year Gash began another crime series with Different Women Dancing, set in a grimly post-industrial Lancastrian city. A faked hit-and-run accident brings together a male prostitute and a thoroughly respectable woman doctor, with unexpected results.

Though some novels show signs of slapdash plotting and hasty writing, Gash’s books rank high as civilised entertainment with an undertow of compassion.

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