Today we have a guest blogger – my good friend Martin Edwards, crime writer and crime fiction expert extraordinaire, is doing a blog tour for his new book:
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books
So make sure you get hold of the book, and follow the blog tour – details below. I think it’ll be one of the most discussed items in GA’s recent history. Martin’s previous book on the Golden Age (on the blog here and here) was a complete winner, a truly monumental piece of work, and I think this one will be as good…
Now, over to Martin:
As readers of this splendid blog know, Moira is a fan of classic crime fiction, and there’s quite a lot of overlap between her interests and mine (not that I’m an expert on clothes or fashion, as anyone who has checked my wardrobe will confirm.) And apart from the stories themselves, classic crime novels frequently offer an added visual bonus. Their dust jackets are very appealing. In good condition, nowadays, they are also very expensive these days, so much so that there’s a booming trade in facsimile covers, bought by collectors who can’t find the original jackets.
The British Library’s Crime Classics comprise a series of paperbacks, rather than jacketed hardbacks, but the cover artwork of the books is an important ingredient in their success. Rob Davies and his team at the Library hit on the idea of using railway poster artwork from the 30s and 40s for their reprints of obscure titles, starting with John Bude’s The Cornish Coast Murder and The Lake District Murder. The series took off from there, and J. Jefferson Farjeon’s Mystery in White, with its enticing cover showing a steam train stuck in a snowdrift, became a Christmas bestseller. Now a new book is added to the series every month, and many readers are collecting the whole set. The Crime Classics really do furnish a room quite beautifully!
My latest book, The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books, is a companion to the series. It’s a jacketed hardback, but the wrapper is very much in the series style. As for the contents, well, the idea is to trace trends and development in the crime genre, starting with (who else?) Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles, and coming up to the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, when Shelley Smith and Julian Symons, in Britain, and Patricia Highsmith, in the US, took crime writing in a fresh direction. I’ve divided the story (and I do set out to tell a story, rather than simply download facts) into themed chapters, covering topics from the “Great Detective” and the country house mystery to the role of irony in the crime novel, and books which deal with notions of justice.
The time-frame of the book includes, but isn’t limited to, the “Golden Age of Murder” which I explored in my previous study of the genre. I like variety, as a writer as well as a reader, so I’ve taken a different approach in this book, which complements, but doesn’t duplicate, its predecessor. And one huge visual bonus, in my opinion, is the presence of plenty of illustrations, most of them full-colour, not only of some fascinating classic dust jackets, but also a range of other bits and pieces – such as crime scene maps, and even musical notations! My hope is that anyone with a taste for classic crime will find plenty of interest between the covers, and also quite a bit that makes them stop for a moment and reflect: “Hey, I never knew that!”
Moira, thank you for hosting this guest post. Over the course of ten days, I’m travelling around the blogosphere, talking about different aspects of the book, and of classic crime. Here’s a list of all the stops on my blog tour:
Wed 28 June – Lesa’ Book Critiques - https://lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com
Thurs 29 June – The Rap Sheet - http://therapsheet.blogspot.com
Fri 30 June – Pretty Sinister Books - http://prettysinister.blogspot.com
Sat 1 Jul – Confessions of a Mystery Novelist (interview) - https://margotkinberg.wordpress.com
Sun 2 Jul –Eurocrime - http://eurocrime.blogspot.co.uk
Mon 3 Jul – Tipping My Fedora - https://bloodymurder.wordpress.com
Tue 4 Jul – Desperate Reader - http://desperatereader.blogspot.co.uk
Wed 5 Jul –Clothes in Books - http://clothesinbooks.blogspot.co.uk
Thu 6 Jul – Emma’s Bookish Corner - https://emmasbookishcorner.wordpress.com
Fri 7 Jul - Random Jottings - http://randomjottings.typepad.com
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books is published in the UK on 7 July by the British Library, and in the US on 1 August by Poisoned Pen Press