Saturday, April 26, 2014

James Melville: AKA Roy Peter Martin: RIP

Such sad news. James Melville aka Roy Peter Martin and Hampton Charles, or Peter as he was known to me, passed away on March 23 at the age of 83. I remember so many visits both in the UK and here in Berkeley. Peter showed my sister and me around the North of England on one of our visits. Castles, tea, and beer! Here in Berkeley Mystery Readers NorCal hosted James Melville at a Literary Salon, and I showed him around San Francisco, Napa and Sonoma.  We met at other times at various Bouchercons, but I will always remember his graciousness and hospitality.

SHOTS Magazine reports:

It is with deep sadness that Shots reports the death of Roy Peter Martin, better known to crime fiction fans as James Melville and Hampton Charles, who passed on 23rd March, aged 83, only weeks before his most famous crime series, the novel featuring Japanese policeman Superintendent Otani, was to be brought back into print by Ostara Crime, after a gap of more than thirty years.

Roy Peter Martin was born in London in 1931.  He read philosophy at Birkbeck College and after National Service in the RAF worked in local government and then entered teaching.  In 1960 he became a British Council Officer and thereafter his career was in cultural diplomacy and educational development in Indonesia, Japan and Hungary.  In 1979 he returned to Japan as Head of the British Council and began to write the Superintendent Otani series of crime novels which “provided a vivid and multi-stranded portrait of Japanese society, caught between its traditional (and often hidebound) past and the exigencies of modern life”.  He also wrote historical novels set in Japan and spy novels which drew on his experiences in Indonesia and Hungary.

Under the pen name Hampton Charles, he continued the ‘Miss Seeton’ series of stories (gentle parodies of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple books) originally written by Heron
Carvic (1913-1980).  

Ostara Publishing are to release new Ostara Crime editions of James Melville’s first three ‘Otani’ novels: The Wages of Zen, The Chrysanthemum Chain and A Sort of Samurai.  Further details on:

Read the Obit in The Guardian by his sons James and Adam Martin.

1 comment:

Priscilla said...

Oh such sad news! I loved his Otani series.