Isobel's cousin, David Millner, has written this profile especially for the website.
Isobel Lambot came from a family of readers and writers. She started at an early age, but the first crime novel came in 1960.
She was born in 1926 and educated in Birmingham; took her degree at Liverpool University; served five years in the W.R.A.F.; returned to Birmingham University to do a teaching certificate; and taught in a Secondary Modern School.
In 1959 she married a Belgian engineer, whose work lay in Third World countries. She accompanied her husband on many trips into these places, and has used the settings for several novels. She wrote her first crime novel in Jamaica. This was never published, but it brought her in contact with a literary agent, who gave her much encouragement. Her third attempt was her first crime novel to be published.
Her first publisher was Robert Hale and for years Isobel was obliged to submit every new book to him. She would never have been able to change publishers had he not closed his crime list for a while in 1984. She remained grateful to him for giving her a start, for the opportunity to learn her trade and to make her name in the libraries.
She had four books published by Macmillan: two Commissaire Orloff novels (a new detective whose creation arose from a spell of living in France), one political thriller and one Off-beat. She has three more novels ready for submission.
She never accepted the modern idea that the detective story is finished. Public reactions in the libraries and television ratings do not support it.
Isobel wrote over twenty crime novels and political thrillers under her own name and under pseudonyms Daniel Ingham and Mary Turner, also historical novels and romantic short stories, and latterly How to write crime novels for the Allison & Busby Writer's Guides series. Translations have been made into German, Italian, Portuguese and Swedish. She was an active member of The Crime Writers Association.
She taught creative writing, and lectured to writer's groups. In partnership with a fellow crime writer, she presented "Whodunit" evenings.
She was a witty conversationalist with a fund of stories about her life abroad with her late husband, Maurice, the choirs she sang in, and her experience as a carer of elderly friends. Her determination to help other people through crises was founded on her strong Catholic faith, taken up when she married. She loved cooking and had also been a professional chef.
Twenty six years ago, as a widow, she moved to the Herefordshire border town of Kington where she made many friends. Over the last few years she suffered ill health, falls, broken bones and finally Althzeimer's disease came on quickly. Her mind swung between razor sharp and very confused. Suffering a minor infection she agreed to spend two weeks being cared for in a local nursing home. Early on midsummers day she left the home and was seen walking into the countryside above Kington. Her final mystery was like her novels, as a massive search operation was set up with police and many local volunteers. Finally on 2 July her body was found against a tree in the dense and steep Yeld Wood. It is likely that the plot for the last chapter will never be certain.
Isobel's body and mind will not have to suffer the frustration and restriction which her condition would have brought in increasing intensity. As the hearse drove from the Church in Kington where over a packed house wished her well, to the Crematorium in Hereford, a lone buzzard flew over the coffin and screeched. Her spirit is now free and in life she touched many hearts.
She had written "People write because they want to. It is an inner compulsion. Crime writers write to entertain, to give a little relaxation in a world of stress. It is very hard work." No one worked harder than Isobel.
© David Millner, 2002
The following works marked with an asterisk (*) are available in the West Midlands Creative Literature Collection:-
Series: Detective Orloff (Set in France):
Bloody festival (1991)
Still waters run deadly (1987)
The lost one (new and not yet published)
The flower of violence (1992)
Blood ties (1987)
Let the witness die (Philippines) (1969)
Overseas based detective stories:
Watcher on the shore (French Congo) (1972)
Come back and die (Ceylon - now Sri-Lanka) (1972)
Grip of fear (Italy) (1974)
The identity trap (Jamaica) (1978)*
Rooney's gold (New Zealand)
Contract for death (French Congo)
UK based detective stories:
Taste of murder
Shroud of canvas (1997 Black Dagger Crime reprint with Chivers Press Limited)
The queen dies first
Killers laughter (1968) (2002 Black Dagger Crime reprint by Chivers Press Limited)
Point of death (1969) (1999 Black Dagger Crime reprint by Chivers Press Limited)
Past tense (1979) *
Cover-up (new and not yet published)
Page created 9 February 2001 and last
updated 28 October 2002
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