Barry Maitland Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Barry Maitland began publishing only after a successful career as an architect and academic in both England and Australia. Even in his earliest novels he displays a mature insight into character and motivation that is rare in crime fiction. His background has also enabled him to incorporate into his fiction a breadth of learning in a number of fields, especially art, architecture, and urban history. Although Maitland’s novels have been commercially successful and critically well received, they have not as yet achieved the reputation that they merit. Like the works of the British master of the police procedural, P. D. James, Maitland’s novels are intricately plotted, thematically sophisticated, and symbolically suggestive.

Maitland’s chief contribution to the police procedural is his imaginative and often symbolic depiction of crime settings. Broadly speaking, all of his fictions are set within the city of London or its suburban environs. Having spent many years growing up in the city, Maitland is intimately aware of its many layers of history but is also acutely aware of the changes that successive waves of immigration and social change have brought. This awareness is deftly woven into the fabric of all his novels.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Binyon, T. J. Murder Will Out: The Detective in Fiction. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989. Contains one of the best scholarly analyses of the police procedural and its many variants; useful for placing Maitland in the tradition of the police novel.

Cannon, Peter. Review of Silvermeadow, by Barry Maitland. Publishers Weekly 249, no. 30 (July 29, 2002): 57. Favorable review notes Maitland’s explanation of how architects and engineers turn the mundane task of shopping into recreation and entertainment through the construction of a mall.

Maitland, Barry. Barry Maitland: Crime Novelist. Official Web site of Maitland offers a biography and descriptions of his Brock and Kolla books.

Maitland, Barry. Interview. Crime Factory: The Australian Crime Fiction Magazine (Online edition 007; 2000). Discusses the parallels between crime writing and architecture, the author’s writing methods, and his use of the city of London as setting for his novels.

Publishers Weekly. Review of No Trace, by Barry Maitland. 253, no. 29 (July 24, 2006): 39. Favorable review that notes Maitland’s ability to bring the setting of the novel alive and calls the work “haunting” and “unnerving.”

Symons, Julian. Bloody Murder: From the Detective Story to the Crime Novel—A History. 3d ed. New York: Mysterious Press, 1993. Among the best introductions to the history of crime fiction; contains an exceptional chapter on the police procedural. Sheds light on Maitland’s work.

Underhill, Paco. The Call of the Mall. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004. An exploration of mall culture and its effect on the consumer; provides helpful background on the social and economic function of malls relevant to Maitland’s Silvermeadow.