Betty Rowlands, dubbed the “queen of cosy crime” by publisher Bookouture, has died at the age of 96.
The author, who wrote 25 books, passed away peacefully at a residential home on 29th July, the publisher announced today (10th August).
Rowlands' writing career began when she was in her mid-60s, winning the Sunday Express/Veuve Clicquot Crime Short Story of the Year Competition in 1988.
For many years she lived in the heart of the Cotswolds, where her Melissa Craig mysteries are set, before moving to Bristol. She was first published in the 1990s by Hodder & Stoughton and Severn House, and then digitally by Orion’s Murder Room imprint, before Bookouture took on her books as a backlist acquisition, giving them new titles, covers and a vigorous publication schedule.
Her many fans included Val McDermid who called her first novel, “full of sharp insights with an unexpected twist in the tail”. Rowlands also loved reading the many letters she received from new fans in recent years.
Editor Maisie Lawrence said: “When I visited Betty last year, she reminded me that the best books have, 'a little bit of sex and not too much violence'. When I gently probed her about writing a couple more books, she looked me straight in the eye and said that sounded 'a lot like hard work'. One of my favourite things about Betty is that for most of the last year, the only author she read was herself. She loved our new audio editions of her books and enjoyed getting to know her characters again. I wasn’t ready for our conversations to end and will miss her more than I can say.”
According to Bookouture, her books have sold over 380,000 copies across all formats. All 12 books in her Melissa Craig Mystery series hit the UK Kindle top 100, and she is a top-five bestseller in Canada.
She is survived by two of her three children, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Messages of condolence, memories to share and donations to Book Trust: Getting Children Reading can be sent to R Davies, 63 Westbury Hill, Westbury on Trym, Bristol BS9 3AD.