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James McClure PDF Print E-mail

James Howe McClure (1939 - 2006) the son of Scottish parents, was born in Johannesburg and educated in Pietermaritzburg (the fictitious 'Trekkersburg' in his Kramer and Zondi dectective thriller series). He went to Scottsville School from 1947-51, Cowan House, 1952- 54, and Maritzburg College, 1955-58. He married Lorelee Ellis in 1962 and had two sons and one daughter. He worked as a commercial photographer, 1958-59; taught English and art at Cowan House, 1959-63 and then as a crime reporter for the Natal Witness, 1963-64, Natal Mercury, 1964-65 and Daily News, 1965 (all in Pietermartizburg, KwaZulu-Natal). In 1965 he moved to Scotland where he joined the Daily Mail in Edinburgh as a Sub-Editor, and then the Oxford Mail and Oxford Times, 1966-73. He left journalism in the mid-seventies to pursue writing full time, and in 1989 returned to the the Oxford Times where he eventually became Editor. In 2000 McClure became editor of the Oxford Mail where he remained until his retirement at the beginning of 2005. McClure was the recipient of the Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger in 1971 for his first novel, The Steam Pig, and a Silver Dagger in 1976 for an espionage novel, The Rogue Eagle.

See McClure's obituary at

Selected Work

From The Steam Pig, 1971.

The corner of De Wet Street and the Parade was deserted. Zondi should have been waiting there for at least an hour - the two calls had taken far longer than Kramer anticipated. He parked the car and sat. He needed to think carefully before making his next move. It would be very rash for a white, even armed, to attempt to follow in Zondi's footsteps. On the other hand, he rebelled against the thought of calling in help. His mind reacted to the dilemma by blanking out. He was staring across the pavement at the statue of Queen Victoria, which had presumably survived into the Republican era because it was so incredibly gross, when something stirred on the Great White Mother's lap. He saw a slim brown hand reach up for a snap-brim hat hung on the sceptre. Moments later Zondi slid down and strode casually over.
"No Shoe Shoe," he said. "His wheelbarrow is round the back of the City Hall but not one fellow knows where he is."
"You asked plenty?"
"Oh yes, boss,"
Zondi licked his knuckles. The wind had gone. It was very cold and very early in the morning.
"Get in, I'll take you home."
"How come? We can go out to Peacehaven, boss."
"Not tonight - I'll explain why. Move it."

As Kramer drove out to Kwela Village, he filled in on all that had happened. If that was the Colonel's attitude, then he could not expect them to miss another night's sleep. Zondi lived with his wife and three children in a two-roomed concrete house which covered an area of four table-tennis tables and had a floor of stamped earth. He always had to direct Kramer to it as there were several hundred other identical houses in the township. All that distinguished his home was a short path edged with upturned condensed-milk cans too rusty to catch the car's headlights.
"Go for Gershwin Mkize in the morning," Kramer instructed him after they had stopped.
"He should know where his merchandise has got to. Maybe Shoe Shoe's sick? I've got to see the Colonel and Mr Perkins, then I'll be in the market square if you're not back in the office by ten."
"Right, boss, see you."

Kramer waited with his lights on the door so Zondi would not fumble the key, and then started off down the hill into town again. Lucky man, that wife of Zondi's was a good woman with a fine wide pelvis. Kramer caught himself wondering if it was not time he got lucky; he liked the idea of a loyal woman and he liked children. But no, he was a man of principle. It was not fair taking on such a responsibility in his job - you never knew when you might fetch up grinning at Strydom with your stomach. Anyway, he had found himself a widow with four kids. She would love a surprise guest.


 Kramer and Zondi Series

1971. The Steam Pig. London: Victor Gollancz.
1972. The Caterpillar Cop. London: Harper & Row.
1974. The Gooseberry Fool. London: Harper & Row.
1975. Snake. London: HarperCollins.
1976. Rogue Eagle. London: HarperCollins.
1976. The Sunday Hangman. London: HarperCollins.
1980. The Blood of an Englishman. London: HarperCollins.
1984. The Artful Egg. London: Random House.


1973. Four and Twenty Virgins. London: Magna Print Bks. (1973)
1988. Imago: A Modern Comedy of Manners
1991. The Song Dog


1980. Spike Island: Portrait of a British Police Division
1984. Cop World: Inside an American Police Force
1976. Killers: A Companion to the Thames Television Series By Clive Exton