James McClure

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James McClure was born in Johannesburg in 1939 and educated in Natal. After stints as a photographer and a teacher in Pietermaritzburg (presumably the model for Trekkersberg in the Kramer-Zondi detective series) he became a reporter, first with the Natal Witness and then the Natal Mercury, in which he would take an interest in crime within the contemporary South African context of Apartheid. His reports of police abuse of black South-Africans raised the authorities’ attention and his political convictions eventually forced him and his young family to exchange South Africa for London in 1965. He started out working for the Scottish Daily Mail in Edinburgh, then moved to Oxford to be employed by the Oxford Mail and Oxford Times for three decades. In this period he would develop one of the most successful detective partnerships in the crime novel, between the Afrikaner Lieutenant Tromp Kramer and the Zulu detective sergeant Mickey Zondi in a series which features 8 novels that unveiled the harsh social realities of Apartheid to international readership. His first, The Steam Pig (1971), became a direct hit and won him the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger. The full series consists of the following titles: The Steam Pig (1971), The Caterpillar Cop (1972), The Gooseberry Fool (1974), Snake (1975), The Sunday Hangman (1977), The Blood of an Englishman (1980), The Artful Egg (1984), and The Song Dog (1991). He died in Oxford, UK in 2006.