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Mo Hayder, pen name of Clare Dunkel, died Thursday of ALS. She had not been diagnosed until December.
When Mo Hayder debuted in 1999 with Vogelman, a psychological thriller about the ritual murder of five young women in London, she was immediately overtaken as a great and innovative talent. She wrote explicitly about violence, a writing style that became her trademark. “If you didn’t do that as a thriller writer, you would write dishonest books,” she said in an interview with our sister newspaper The standard in 2004, “because that’s what a violent death looks like.” “I read the better crime stories, but nowhere did I read about the absolute horror of a violent death. Think of Agatha Christie and the corpse in the library. Where’s the blood and the stench and the puke and the shit? (…) No excuses. If you want to read about crime, I’ll give you every gory detail.”
Hayder had the talent to conjure up chilling images that linger in the minds of readers for a long time. Her unique mix between the thriller and horror genres made school, other writers followed in her footsteps.
Before the end of her second book, The treatment, a chilling book about child abuse, in which someone is locked up and dies, she got her inspiration from the Dutroux case. The book was made into a movie by Hans Herbots, who also made a second thriller of hers, Ritual.
Hayder wrote ten novels. Her most recent book is being edited for television by the BBC. Hayder’s publisher announced that the author had embarked on a new project under the pseudonym Theo Clare. The first book in that series The book of sand, will appear in early 2022.