Crime Pays for Peter; (Writing Novels, That Is ...)

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), January 30, 2011 | Go to article overview

Crime Pays for Peter; (Writing Novels, That Is ...)


Byline: Mark Anstead

Novelist Peter James has enjoyed 12 happy years living in his brick-built converted barn near Lewes, East Sussex. But now the author, whose bestselling detective books have catapulted him to top position among UK crime writers, is ready for his next house move.

Peter, 62, and his partner Helen Shenston, 56, have put their secluded five-bedroom home, which is set in three acres and has a tennis court and views over the South Downs, up for sale at [pounds sterling]1.6million as they want to live fractionally closer to London. They have just agreed to buy a fivebedroom Victorian house set in seven acres a few miles north of Henfield, also in East Sussex, for [pounds sterling]3million.

'I will be sorry to leave because I have written every one of my detective novels here,' says Peter, who also has a flat in Notting Hill, West London. 'Helen has family and friends in Henfield and it will take half an hour less to reach London.'

Last year Peter published the seventh book in his Detective Superintendent Roy Grace series, which did so well that he can afford to buy his new house without having to sell his existing one.

Peter sold his former home, a Georgian manor near the village of Clayton, West Sussex, in 1998 after his divorce from his former wife.

At that time the property market was entering a sustained period of growth and competing buyers pushed the price up from a guide figure of [pounds sterling]950,000 to an agreed sale of [pounds sterling]1.2million. He then moved 12 miles east to his home near Lewes, which he bought for [pounds sterling]625,000 from City tycoon Sir John Lovill, who converted it from dereliction 12 years earlier.

Like many barn conversions, the house has a wealth of exposed beams, vaulted ceilings and galleries. An attractive double-height window dominates the open-plan living room. In the cellar Peter was impressed to find Lovill had installed a cast-iron, walk-in safe from a London bank. Lovill said he had paid [pounds sterling]400 for it but then another [pounds sterling]10,000 to transport and install it as a wine cellar.

'I have fallen in love with the sense of solitude I can have here,' says Peter, the author of grisly novels about serial killers with foot fetishes. …

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