Jill McGown, best known as the author of a series of thirteen British police procedurals starring Chief Inspector Lloyd and Sergeant Judy Hill (later also Chief Inspector, and Lloyd’s wife) died last Friday, April 6th, after a long illness. This according to a statement recently posted on her website.

   She was 59 at the time of her death.

   Also on the website is a lengthy autobiography, where among many photos and details about growing up in Campbeltown, Argyll, Scotland, she says: “Campbeltown is on the Mull of Kintyre, made famous by Paul McCartney and Wings, and I knew the piper who plays the solo on the record, so there!”

   Also of interest, she says in passing: “From junior school, I went to Corby Grammar School, where I was taught Latin by Colin Dexter who went on to write the Morse books, though I didn’t know that when I wrote my first book.”

   Her detective stories bridge the gap between the meticulously plotted stories of the 1930s and 1940s Golden Age of mysteries, and the psychological crime stories of the 1950s, suggests one source. Not only do Ms. McGown’s series characters, Lloyd and Judy Hill solve the most deviously twisted crimes together, but they’re also lovers, their slow-moving romance part of the reason readers kept returning for the next installment.


   Excerpted from an online interview with Jill McGown:

How do you start your novels – do you have a character, plot, ending or title first?

   I start with a character, almost always. I then rummage in my mental plot drawer for a plot that might fit this character. My ‘plots’, if you can call them that, are minimalist to say the least, so that bit isn’t difficult. With Redemption, for instance, it was simply a joke someone told me.

   The character of the vicar came into my mind one night, complete with a daughter who had an abusive husband. I thought about the vicar and his family for a little while, and then saw how they could fit my ‘joke’ plot.

   The complexity comes as I write, and is dictated by the characters as they are revealed to me. The plot will always give way to the characters, so even I don’t always know how the story will end.

   The title usually emerges during the writing, but sometimes it’s the very last thing I think about. And it often has to be changed.

If someone was going to read one of your novels – which one would you recommend they start with?

   The Lloyd and Hill novels are, of course, each complete in themselves, but there is a continuing story and the characters develop through each novel, so I would recommend starting with A Perfect Match, being the first one.


   This is not, however, essential — the back-story is sketched in each time. That in itself is quite a challenge — finding new ways to explain the set-up to readers requires some ingenuity!

BIBLIOGRAPHY, as expanded from Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin:

McGOWN, JILL (1947- 2007); see pseudonym Elizabeth Chaplin.

      Lloyd & Hill titles:

* A Perfect Match (n.) Macmillan 1983
* Redemption (n.) Macmillan 1988 [US title: Murder at the Old Vicarage]
* Death of a Dancer (n.) Macmillan 1989 [US title: Gone to Her Death]
* The Murders of Mrs. Austin and Mrs. Beale (n.) Macmillan 1991
* The Other Woman (n.) Macmillan 1992
* Murder Now and Then (n.) Macmillan 1993
* A Shred of Evidence (n.) Macmillan 1995
* Verdict Unsafe (n.) Macmillan 1997
* Picture of Innocence (n.) Macmillan 1998
* Plots and Errors (n.) Macmillan 1999
* Scene of the Crime (n.) Macmillan 2001
* Births, Deaths and Marriages (n.) Macmillan 2002. [US title: Death in the Family]
* Unlucky For Some (n.) Macmillan 2004



* Record of Sin (n.) Macmillan 1985
* An Evil Hour (n.) Macmillan 1986
* The Stalking Horse (n.) Macmillan 1987
* Murder Movie (n.) Macmillan 1990

CHAPLIN, ELIZABETH; pseudonym of Jill McGown

* Hostage to Fortune (n.) Scribner 1992


   A Shred of Evidence was the basis of a TV movie entitled Lloyd & Hill, starring Michelle Collins as DI Judy Hill, and Philip Glenister as DCI Danny Lloyd. According to Ms McGown, it was for this film that Lloyd gained a first name.

[UPDATE] 04-15-07. For another tribute to Jill McGown, Jeff Pierce has one he posted earlier on The Rap Sheet. It’s excellently done, as usual, and one you should most definitely read.