Derek Raymond

English crime writer

Robert William Arthur Cook (also known as Derek Raymond, 12 June 1931 – 30 July 1994) was an English crime writer, credited with being a founder of British noir. Some of his work appeared under the name Robin Cook; he should not be confused with the American thriller writer.

Quotes edit

  • It seems to me that no matter whether you marry, settle down or live with a bird or not, certain ones simply have your number on them, like bombs in the war; and even if you don't happen to like them all that much there's nothing you can do about it – unless you're prepared to spend a lifetime arguing fate out of existence, which you could probably do if you tried but I'm not the type.
    • Crust on Its Uppers, p. 87
  • Then we sat in silence, watching the scenery whirring past us in the improving light. I was lighting us both a cigarette when he turned to me and said: 'Sorry if I got cross, morrie.'
    'That's all right,' I said.
    'Bit on edge, I suppose.'
    It was all very kosher and British.
    'Not surprising,' I said. 'It's been an angstful sort of night.'
    • Crust on Its Uppers, pp. 180–181
  • By the word existence I mean the one contract valid for mankind; I define it as the general contract. In it are the clauses of human life; its uses, responsibilities, limitations, its inevitable eclipse. This contract is the basis of the black novel, whose loathing of violence, which it describes as precisely as possible in order to remind people how disgusting it is, causes it to rise up against death forced on any person before his time, and that is where it becomes a novel in mourning. Each contract is to be terminated in the way that its clauses are set out; but it is not to be destroyed by any contract-holder. That possibility is contained in no contract. To break his contract is either to invite the breaker's destruction, or else it is evidence that the act of destruction has been carried out by a signatory who has already been destroyed, such as a killer — and that is why my detective picks up Suarez' battered head and kisses it.

    I will go further. What is remarkable about I Was Dora Suarez has nothing to do with literature at all; what is remarkable about it is that in its own way and by its own route it struggles after the same message as Christ. I am not the kind of person that anyone would expect to say such a thing, for although I believe firmly in the invisible, I am not religious. But in writing the book I definitely underwent an experience that I can only describe as cathartic; the writing of Suarez, though plunging me into evil, became the cause of my seeking to purge what was evil in myself. It was only after I had finished the book that I realised this; I was far too deeply involved in the battle with evil that the book became to think any further than that at the time [...]

    Suarez was my atonement for fifty years' indifference to the miserable state of this world; it was a terrible journey through my own guilt, and through the guilt of others.
    • The Hidden Files, pp. 98–99
  • Existence is sometimes what a forward artillery observer sees of enemy lines through field glasses. A distant and troubling view brought suddenly into focus with a wealth of obscene detail.
    • The Hidden Files, p. 121
  • The black novel seeks to present as forcibly as it can the terminal psychic situation that occurs in people who have arrived at a point where they have no hope, no motive, and no longer even the desire to conceal anything from themselves; the black novel intervenes at the moment where a human being approaches his last moment: ‍'‍The first night of death must seem so strange‍'‍. A special mood is necessary to make language plastic enough to convey such experience exactly; experience so devastatingly simple that, like love, it verges on the indescribable. Nearly every attempt to convey it can really only be described as another in a seemingly endless series of attempts since we cannot describe what we are not yet in a position to know — and yet it is the black novel's absolute duty to express it. T. S. Eliot, I think, got closest to describing the nature of this challenge when he wrote (I paraphrase): It is not necessary to die to describe death.
    • The Hidden Files, p. 144
  • The bore is the human cuckoo. He will take over anything, usurp any nest. His one outstanding feature is that he has no features. He has nothing whatever to offer society, not the least germ of an original or positive idea – and yet the rest of us somehow find ourselves moving up to make room for him, just as the body makes itself host to a destructive virus. Bores would take the entire world over if they could; sometimes they do. Here is an extract from the diary of one who did: 'I still lack to a considerable degree that naturally superior kind of manner that I would dearly like to possess…' (Heinrich Himmler, November 1921).
    • The Hidden Files, p. 148
  • Nothing else much matters once you have achieved the hardest thing, which is to act out of conviction. Even if you have been beaten by evil, in the bitterness of defeat the battle has left a trace for the others, and you can go feeling clean. I recognise that I am a minor writer; but this does not affect the depth of my convictions.
    • The Hidden Files, p. 287
  • 'You're not very good at it, are you?' said Gust, 'they ought to have sent heavies in.' He thought the man very likely could have got a job playing Hess in this new TV series they were doing on the war, and he would have had a word with a few directors he knew in Soho if he had been a mate of his. But, as he wasn't, Gust kicked him in the stomach as he tried to drag himself up on one leg with the help of the bar-rail, then turned back to the other man.

    'You all right?' he said. 'How are you feeling now? Chipper?' He took one of the man's ears in his thumb and forefinger; the ear was tiny, considering the size of his head, and it had little hairs inside it. Gust picked up a cocktail stick out of a dirty glass on the bar and jabbed it down into the eardrum as far as he could; when he pulled it out the stick was half-way red, and there was some grey stuff in it as well. He shouted down his ear: 'I think I just broke your foot!' but the man wasn't making sense any more; he was wailing with his hand clapped to the side of his head, swaying up and down from the waist like a bereaved widow, or else perhaps he just didn't hear, or maybe the music was too loud. Gust realised then that he had pushed the stick in too far and that the man would probably die.

    Dirty cocktail-stick in the brain? What a bleeding way to go! Now the man with the broken leg tried another naughty stroke; although he only had one hand free because he was using the other one to hold onto the rail, he still managed to smash a glass and try putting it in Gust's face.

    'This is just self-defence after all,' Gust said to himself. He stamped on the man's feet again; this time he definitely felt bones go and the man screamed, dropped the glass and let go of the rail; but instead of letting him fall Gust took him round the waist, ripped his fly open and searched inside his pants until he found his testicles, which he yanked right out into his hand. Their owner can't have been much into baths because they smelled like something tepid from a canteen counter. Gust wrung them like the devil having a go at a set of wedding bells with all the grip he had, until the man was shrieking on the same D minor as the music.

    'It's nothing personal,' said Gust, 'but I'm afraid you're going to have to learn to fuck all over again.' He wiped the blood off the man's prick down his face, then pulled the face towards him and drove his nose into his brain with his head. The music boosted into E major on a key change, and the man doubled up under a bar-stool, leaving a lot of blood behind him while Gust receded into the half darkness towards the black drapes on the walls.
    • Brand New Dead, pp. 86–87

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