Masters of Crime, UK First Edition, 2006
Subject of the book
This is a limited edition of 250 books produced by Scorpion Press to recognise the contribution to fiction of Dick Francis and Lionel Davidson, with contributions from other writers and literary critics and including a full bibliography for each author.
Much of what Deighton writes about focuses on why doctors often make good thriller writers. He points to the fact that they have to understand the basic human framework; they often come across an unending supply of human dramas in their work. They are also dedicated note takers, he writes, with powers of observation and deduction, such as those possessed by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
His more general point is that the fiction writer must know what he writes about: both Francis and Davidson have huge and varied experiences which they bring to their fiction, and also both drew upon their time in the armed forces, which provides a mixture of comradeship, futlity, tyranny and destruction. He writes it is a privilege and delight to be part of this tribute to the two writers.
'Fiction writers subsist on information. They don't have to be wise, or clever or even highly intelligent, which is just as well since few of us are. And yet writers need something more; vital things. They need to be creators, and not mere reporters. Writers need to write dialogue that we wished we had said or heard, rather than the banalities that the tape recorder reveals.'