Book Talk: Diamonds inspire Tolkien grandson's novel

Thu Mar 10, 2011 6:33am EST
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By Bernard Vaughan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Simon Tolkien avoided writing fiction for most of his life, intimidated by the imposing legacy of his grandfather, J.R.R. Tolkien who penned "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings."

Instead, he embarked on a 15-year career as a criminal lawyer in England. That experience, together with his study of modern history at Trinity College, Oxford, provided a fertile background when he began writing 12 years ago, at the age of 40.

In 2002, Tolkien published his debut novel, "Final Witness," a murder mystery and courtroom drama. Last year, he followed up with his second book, "The Inheritance" about a son accused of murdering his Oxford historian father.

The hero of "The Inheritance," Inspector William Trave, returns in Tolkien's latest book, "The King of Diamonds," which will be published next week. Trave investigates the murder of the niece of a diamond merchant known for rescuing Jews from Nazi-occupied Belgium.

Tolkien spoke to Reuters about the inspiration for his new novel, his famous grandfather and how he feels about the upcoming film version of "The Hobbit."

Q: What was the motivation for this book?

A: "The last book, 'The Inheritance,' was a courtroom drama. I wanted to move away from that and more into a police procedural-type story. I also wanted to develop a female character. And I'm also interested in the shadow of the World War Two."

Q: Why focus on Belgian Jews trying to use diamonds to escape from Nazi-occupied Belgium?   Continued...

<p>Novelist Simon Tolkien is seen in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/Handout</p>