A Tribute to Betty Rowlands (1923-2020)

We are very sad to announce that our author Betty Rowlands has died just a few months before her 97th birthday. She passed peacefully in the residential home that she called ‘home’. Referred to at Bookouture as the ‘Queen of Cozy Crime’, she was a runaway bestseller in 2018 and 2019.

Betty burst on to the crime scene in her mid-sixties by winning the Sunday Express / Veuve Clicquot Crime Short Story of the Year Competition in 1988, which shows that it is never too late to start writing. For many years, Betty lived in heart of the Cotswolds, where her Melissa Craig mysteries are set, before moving to Bristol. She was first published in the 1990s by Hodder & Stoughton and Severn House, before Bookouture acquired her books as a backlist acquisition. With new titles and covers as well as a vigorous publication schedule, Bookouture were able to give her titles a fresh lease of life.

Betty’s twenty-five books and three boxsets have sold over 380,000 copies across all formats. Betty much enjoyed her late success and was delighted that her books enjoyed a resurgence in popularity and she loved reading letters from readers from the UK, the USA and further afield. Her many fans included Val McDermid who said of her first novel, ‘full of sharp insights with an unexpected twist in the tail’.

Betty has been part of my professional life since the eighties when I first worked in an agency and she has been a constant presence for me over the years for Lucas Alexander Whitley and more recently the Soho Agency. She combined professionalism with great warmth and was a joy to work with (and even in the last year corrected me on my misquoting George Eliot!) She will be much missed but I am delighted that success should land, late in the day, on such a deserving author.

All twelve books in her Melissa Craig Mystery series hit the UK Kindle top 100, and she is a top-five bestseller in Canada.

She is survived by two of her three children, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Julian Alexander