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FIFTY SHADES OF GREY Crime Fiction Spouse, Niall Leonard, Has His Own Chops
The Fifty Shades of Gray phenomenon has shaken the literary scene in a heap of ways: Concerns of cultural backlash over the objectification of women. Lurid delight that kink has been diluted, prettied up, and packaged in soft language enough to be devoured by the mainstream. Despair that yet another bestseller of dubious literary merit has swept away the American market.
Love it, hate it, or simply want to ignore it, you have to admit that Fifty Shades of Grey has cast light on an important literary talent. Author E. L. James’ husband, Niall Leonard, scored a three-book crime thriller contract.
And while I freely admit that Leonard’s hearty lit deal is linked to his wife’s mega success, a recent look into his career by the Herald Sun reveals a more surprising factor. He damn well deserves to be in print.
I’d expected the bio on Niall to be bare of any gold stars. Quite the contrary. E. L. James’ hubby can claim participation in some of the most outstanding British television of our generation.
First and foremost among Niall Leonard’s credits are his episodes of Britain’s best crime series since Prime Suspect, Wire in the Blood. Leonard ground out eight episodes of this gritty law enforcement procedural, based on the outstanding books of Val McDermid. That may not sound like a ton, but bear in mind that accounts for a full third of the series. Lean numbers on a show like that only leave you starved for more.
Niall Leonard also wrote one of my favorite Horatio Hornblower flicks, Horatio Hornblower: Loyalty, the third in the series and a stand-out installment. He packed cannon-loads of intrigue, romance and drama into that swashbuckling movie. Say what you will about the sub-genre, but delivering grade-A screenplays on demand proves the guy can write.
Now he’s set with a three-book deal from Doubleday, starting with Crusher. Niall Leonard went the YA route, but considering that category has shown more stones than conventional lit lately, I can’t damn him for that. What we know of the novel, thanks to the Herald Sun piece that speaks of his work alongside that of Lawrence Block, Ian Rankin and James Ellroy, reveals it begins with a bludgeoning death and only gets more brutal from there.
So bully to old Niall, I say. He’s yet to really have his day in court so far as the novel form is concerned, but he deserves it.
Chances are, we’ll have to look back and acknowledge that at least one good thing came out of this latest eye-roll-worthy episode of American literary hysteria.