Harman's books aren't available here but should be

May 23, 1999
Elisabeth Sherwin -- gizmo@ dcn.davis.ca.us

"I love America," says John Harman. "I love many things about this country."

Harman is fond of his native England, too. When he's at home he lives in Cambridge with his wife, Abigail, and their family.

But just at the moment he and Abigail are spending six months in Davis and he's loving it.

"Davis is very different from Cambridge," he said, in what has to be a masterpiece of understatement. "Cambridge is medieval, old, the streets are narrow, it's very cosmopolitan, very crowded, flat and wet. Here the streets are wide, it's not overcrowded, there's an enormous physical area, there's a different climate. Well, there are similarities, too. Davis and Cambridge both have universities and very good libraries and book stores.

"But America is very laid-back. England is high-pressured, intense."

The university connection brought the Harmans to Davis. They met friends of friends in Cambridge who introduced them to people in Davis and to make a long story short they are here house-sitting for the next six months.

"I can live anywhere," said John Harman. Harman has been and done many different things but at present he is a fiction writer.

"I've written for newspapers, I've done advertising copy-writing, I've made training films, and I've written for British TV. Writing for TV is good fun. But I always had it in mind to write a book."

Born in London in 1942, he attended the University of Durham, where he read history.

After a short stint as an advertising copywriter, he spent the next dozen years as a journalist, first in television (Scottish TV), then with regional newspapers in the United Kingdom (Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Teeside) before ending up at The Times.

He has also worked in the business side of publishing and, in the late 1970s, formed his own company producing business and financial conferences. It was in the '70s that he began writing scripts for UK television and had a number broadcast.

In the early 1980s, Harman and a business partner bought a well-known Peterborough-based documentary film company, Guild Sound and Vision Ltd. Harman was the CEO and also wrote many scripts for training, documentary and government information films.

But the notion of writing a book persisted.

"The idea for my first book just came to me in one scene, then the idea expanded. It took three or four years to write because I was working at the time but then it got picked up and published."

That first book was called "Money for Nothing," the story of a fraud that went murderously wrong. It was published by Headline, part of Hodder- Headline, a major British publishing house, in 1991.

"It's not available here," Harman said. "That's one of the reasons I'm here now. I need to look for an American agent."

After "Money for Nothing" came another book called "The Bottom Line," a tale of blackmail and murder set against the background of a big business takeover. With the publication of the second book to prove the first wasn't a fluke, he sold his interest in Guild Sound and Vision to concentrate on writing full time.

His third corporate thriller, "Called to Account," came out in 1994.

Harman gave me a copy of "Called to Account," which I read and enjoyed very much. It's the story of a young female accountant who leaves her high-paying job in London after her love affair sours and goes to a smaller town on the South Coast. There she finds herself enmeshed in a business that's running a money-laundering scheme. In this book, Harman actually manages to make accounting sound interesting.

Harman was a business, finance and industry journalist for The Times and at one point in his career covered crime in Glasgow for Scottish TV. All these jobs paid off in terms of having experiences to draw on for "Called to Account," where he describes effectively both seedy South London and corporate board rooms.

His fourth novel is "Dangerous Assets," the tale of the collapse of a major financial institution and the hunt for millions of dollars in missing money.

Harman's books ought to be available here. It's fun reading familiar plots ("Called to Account" has been described as a corporate thriller in the tradition of John Grisham) in a slightly different setting, namely, England. Publishers surely are aware that British crime shows on TV draw lots of enthusiastic viewers; I'm sure an untapped audience exists for the print equivalent. If only his books were available.

To inquire about ordering any of the above mentioned books from an independent bookstore,
Bogey's Books [ Click Here ]

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