“The world has plenty of noise, Julian, but not many voices…. And because there are so few, each one matters.”
After 27 books (this is his 28th) you’d think that Thomas Cook would be a household name, at least if your household encompassed a library.
Six of his novels have been nominated for awards, including Red Leaves in 2006, which was also shortlisted for the Crime Writers' Association Duncan Lawrie Dagger and the Anthony Award, and went on to win the Barry Award and The Martin Beck Award and his 1996 novel The Chatham School Affair received an Edgar award from the Mystery Writers of America. Still, he is denied that superstar status, which may be the only pure mystery associated with Cook.
Unfortunately Cook’s work is usually grouped as ‘Mysteries’ along side Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, and Patricia Cornwell and because his books don’t really fit into that crowd, he goes somewhat unnoticed.
But his books are so much more than genre fiction. They are never formulaic. They’d best be described as literary fiction that uses themes from many other genres; mysteries, crime fiction, historical fiction, psychological thrillers and all to great effect.
It would be easy to mistake Cook as an English mystery writer, but he is a native of Alabama. He spent many years teaching English and History at Dekalb Community College in Georgia, and served as book review editor for Atlanta Magazine. He holds master's degrees in history and philosophy and maybe this is why a number of his books have deeply knowledgeable historical backgrounds and settings and often dwell on motivations and psyches of the characters instead of stark action types of the "usual" thrillers.
The Crime of Julian Wells is Cook at the top of his game. An elegant stylistic literary mystery, filled with twists and puzzles and deeply human, multi-facetted characters instead of action-packed thrills and bigger than life heroes. It’s written in a classic style reminiscent of the best cerebral detective stories.
Julian Wells shares one or two similarities to his author. Julian is a successful writer who suffers from that same failure of the marketing people to classify his work. In Julian’s case, he is often mistaken for either a travel writer or a true crime writer or a historical novelist, therefore his book usually only pay him enough to last the research on his next. He travels the world to half-forgotten places to document and write about real life crimes, usually serial killers or multiple homicides; Paul Voulet and the atrocities committed by him and his band in Africa, Irma Ida Ilse Grese - nicknamed "the Beast of Belsen", "The Beautiful Beast", and "Die Hyäne von Auschwitz" -, warden of the women's section of Bergen-Belsen and convicted for crimes against humanity at the Belsen Trial and sentenced to death. Gilles de Rais a leader in the French army and a companion-in-arms of Joan of Arc, and his assistant (La Meffraye – “the terror”) in the serial killing of children.