Peter Van Greenaway (1929 in London – 1988) was a British novelist, the author of numerous thrillers with elements of horror and satire.
His first novel, The Crucified City, is the story of the aftermath of a nuclear attack on London. A motley group of people, accompanied by a mysterious, apparently mute man, undertake a last pilgrimage to Aldermaston. The action of the book takes place at Easter, and it appears that the mute, the last survivor, is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Several of Van Greenaway's books are topical political thrillers. Take the War to Washington deals with the Vietnam War, Suffer! Little Children with the Troubles in Northern Ireland. In The Man Who Held the Queen to Ransom and Sent Parliament Packing, a British army captain stages a coup d'état in the United Kingdom; the government he attempts to establish is seen as more democratic and far more benign than the establishment he (temporarily) overthrows.
Other novels incorporate elements of science fiction. In Manrissa Man, vivisection experiments result in a highly advanced species of ape which can reason and talk; while in Mutants a national emergency results from the production of a rapacious species of mouse.
Van Greenaway is probably best known for The Medusa Touch, which was filmed starring Richard Burton. The story of a radically disenchanted novelist with highly destructive telekinetic powers, its dialogue was described in Kim Newman's book Nightmare Movies (1988) as “incredibly misanthropic”. The Medusa Touch is one of several books featuring the character Inspector Cherry of Scotland Yard.