Friday, December 3

Crime Novelist Mo Hayder Dies at 59 of Motor Neuron Disease | Books

British novelist Mo Hayder, whose dark and shocking thrillers earned her the title of “queen of fear,” died at the age of 59 after being diagnosed with motor neuron disease in December.

Hayder was the pseudonym of Clare Dunkel. His death was announced by his publisher Transworld, who said that he had “fought valiantly” since his diagnosis on December 22, but that “the disease was progressing at an alarming rate.”

Dunkel dropped out of school at age 15 and worked as a waitress, security guard, filmmaker, a Tokyo club hostess, and an English as a Foreign Language teacher in Asia before breaking onto the literary scene in 1999 with her first novel, Birdman. Strikingly graphic, it followed Detective Jack Caffery’s investigation into the gruesome ritual murder of five young women in London; The Guardian hailed her as “a young writer in touch with her dark side and a great new talent.”

She followed Birdman with The Treatment, which begins with the discovery of a husband and wife who were found beaten and restrained in their home, with their young son missing; the Observer called it “a dark and powerful story of child abuse.” Dunkel published 10 novels as Mo Hayder: his seventh, Gone, won the Edgar Allan Poe Award and his tenth, Wolf, is being adapted by the BBC. In 2011 he won the Dagger Award at the Crime Writers Association Library for Outstanding Work.

Her fellow authors praised her as a writer who pushed the limits of the criminal genre with her terrifying thrillers.

“Mo was a fiercely inventive writer who viewed genre conventions as a challenge rather than a limitation,” said Val McDermid. “I remember reading Birdman with a real sense of emotion, that this was a fresh and distinctive voice that also promised much more to come. He continued to amaze me with his work. I am so sad to have lost not only a fascinating presence, but also the books in my head. “

“She was incredibly different,” said Mark Billingham. “The crime / horror mix is ​​pretty established now, but there were very few people working in that genre when Mo came out. She just had the ability to put images in your head that wouldn’t go away. There are some, especially from The Treatment, that are still in my head 20 years later. His books are scary and disturbing in their own right. “

Jenny Colgan wrote on Twitter: “She never diluted anything; her books were neat and stiflingly strong; an absolutely dazzling talent,” while Harlan Coben called her “a tremendous talent, a true original, and, well, really cool.” .

Dunkel’s agent, Jane Gregory of David Higham Associates, said she was “a brilliant writer and a wonderful, extraordinary and unique human being.”

“His books were amazing and groundbreaking,” Gregory said. “Clare was charming, entertaining, caustic and always great company. It was a privilege to work with her and an honor to have become her friend ”.

His editor Selina Walker at Century said that Dunkel “was never afraid to push the boundaries of the conventional detective story.”

“His best scenes were always terrifying,” Walker said. “She was the bravest writer I knew, but also fun and funny, someone you always wanted to spend time with. I’m heartbroken that they took it away from us so soon. “

Transworld said that Dunkel had started writing a new series under the name Theo Sand. The arena book, set in an alternate universe, will be published in early 2022. It took Dunkel four years to write the novel and described herself as “very happy to be writing fiction set in a completely imaginative universe of my own creation. “. ”.

She is survived by her daughter Lotte and her husband Bob.

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