Horatio Bottomley was one of the most flamboyant characters of the twentieth century. From his inauspicious beginnings as a child in an orphanage, he made a series of extremely shrewd financial investments, went on to achieve Parliamentary success, and was reputed to have a mind to equal the finest legal brains in the country. From these dizzy heights he fell to sudden bankruptcy and the remainder of his life proved to be an eternal repeat of the cycle – huge success (he was nearly included in the post-war cabinet) to complete ruin. In this superb biography, Julian Symons brilliantly captures all the irony and drama in the life of this remarkable man, and creates a very readable, and all-too-poignant story of success and failure.
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Julian Symons is primarily remembered as a master of the art of crime writing. However, in his eighty-two years he produced an enormously varied body of work. Social and military history, biography, and criticism were all subjects he touched upon with remarkable success, and he held a distinguished reputation in each field. His novels were consistently highly individual and expertly crafted, raising him above other crime writers of his day. It is for this that he was awarded various prizes, and in 1982, named as Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America—an honor accorded to only three other English writers before him: Graham Greene, Eric Ambler, and Daphne Du Maurier. He succeeded Agatha Christie as the president of Britain’s Detection Club, a position he held from 1976 to 1985, and in 1990 he was awarded the Cartier Diamond Dagger from the British Crime Writers for his lifetime achievement in crime fiction. Symons died in 1994.Review:
‘An equally entertaining and equally disquieting portrait...its construction is impeccable, its tone is beautifully judged' (The Spectator)
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