John Nightingale is the author of The Sky Blue Parcel, the first in the Jane Charles series and The Appearance of Murder – listed as a book of the year for 2015 in The Times and as one of 10 Best Books of 2015 on AskMen UK.
Before becoming a full-time novelist, he worked as a civil servant in a number of different roles. He was, among other things, in charge of national alcohol misuse policy (“previous experience not required and may even be a disadvantage”); and an expert on pensions and pensions education, playing a leading role in sorting out the Maxwell pension scandal.
He studied English at Cambridge and lives and writes in London and Suffolk. In 1990 he married Caroline Slocock, who also worked as a civil servant for many years, including as the first woman Private Secretary in No 10 and as a senior civil servant at the Treasury. They have two daughters.
His civil service career provided the background to The Sky Blue Parcel, where he worked closely with Ministers, for example on the Department of Work and Pensions’ anti-fraud strategy. Jane’s branch in Her Majesty’s Treasury dealing with large scale organized financial crime is an invention but perhaps overdue.
Another source of inspiration for his writing came through no talent of his own but through marriage. He got, for a time, to be the additional man at that banquet at No 10 or that reception at Chequers, where he suddenly found himself in conversation with Dame Vera Lynn, Jimmy Greaves and Clive Lloyd. There was also the opportunity and time to observe events and people which is precious for any novelist, thriller writer or otherwise. On another occasion he sat next to the very charming wife of the Chief Secretary to the Treasury who told him that she had been in a bookshop earlier in the day and picked up a thriller which had the opening line “The wife of the Chief Secretary to the Treasury…”
A sense of the surreal and the difficulty of determining where precisely reality lies is a key element in John’s thriller The Appearance of Murder featuring David Knight.