Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Queen's Gambit

Is the Queen getting hip or what?

First, Queen Elizabeth tipped her gilded sword to Bono, thrusting upon him an honorary knighthood.

Now I hear she's bestowing similar honors to one writer that I've interviewed a few times as well as one highly underrated writer (who's busy as an actor).

First of all, my heartiest congratulations to Alexander McCall Smith, whom I recently caught up with in writing a healthy portion of the new Kirkus Mysteries and Thrillers Special, due out on February 1. Sandy has been made a Commander of the British Empire for his services to literature during the latest round of royal honors. He also tells me that he's working on a new Botswana novel to be published this spring as well as the fourth volume in the 44 Scotland Street series, the fourth mystery in the Sunday Philosophy Club series, and a new book starring his odd duck Professor von Igelfeld. His work is not always my cup of tea - I like a bit more blood and whiskey in mine - but he's one of the funniest people you'll ever meet.

Sandy's award follows the recent OBE given to Bill Bryson, a great bloke I finally managed to interview just before the publication of his most recent book, "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid."

I'm also surprised to see an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) for the vastly overworked and underrated Hugh Laurie - yes that fellow from "House, M.D." and the author of "The Gun Seller," one of my favorite comic capers. I like Laurie's take on his television character, a modernized pastiche of Sherlock Holmes, but I'll always far more eagerly anticipate his rumored second novel, "Paper Soldier."

That's not to mention the OBE granted in 2002 to Ian Rankin, who's currently dabbling in crime fighting in his local neighborhood in Edinburgh.

It's enough to make you wonder if Her Royal Highness has a certain fondness for all things literary (or criminal).