Friday, June 30, 2017

GUEST POST: Martin Edwards, The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books

In lieu of Friday's Forgotten Books this week I have a guest post by blogger, mystery novelist, genre historian and friend, Martin Edwards.  This is part of the blog tour to help promote his crime fiction survey The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books. Over to you, Martin --

 *  *  *

One of the joys of delving into the world of “forgotten books” is that there are so many hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Over the years, I’ve come across quite a few as a result of following Pretty Sinister Books –- examples that spring to mind include Q. Patrick’s The Grindle Nightmare, and Claude Houghton’s I Am Jonathan Scrivener.

In writing The Golden Age of Murder (Harper Collins), I tried to offer fellow enthusiasts a guide to a range of books produced by members of the Detection Club in the Thirties, as well as talking about the authors’ lives, the real life crimes that inspired many of their novels, and the way the times in which they lived influenced their work. My latest book, The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books (British Library) has a different angle. I’ve tried to offer a fresh look at the way in which the genre evolved over the first half of the twentieth century.

The approach is broadly chronological – from The Hound of the Baskervilles to Strangers on a Train (and wow, mention of those two very different books illustrates the remarkable scale of that evolution over fifty years!) – but along the way I examine a variety of themes. So there are chapters devoted to stories about impossible crimes, country house mysteries, and so on.

Conan Doyle’s novel, and Highsmith’s masterpiece, are exceptionally famous, but there are plenty of titles which I hope will come as a surprise to readers, however well-versed they are in the genre. The Medbury Fort Murder by George Limnelius and Death on the Down Beat by Sebastian Farr are just two examples. This is, after all, not a list of “the best” (supposedly) or even my own special favorites, but rather a book that focuses on an eclectic mix of novels (plus a smattering of short story collections) with a view to telling a story. Some of the choices may seem controversial, or even just idiosyncratic, but I hope that readers who come to the narrative with an open mind will find that the selections make sense – kind of! We will see.

I must just add that John Norris’s perceptive critiques have made Pretty Sinister Books one of my favorite blogs about forgotten mysteries. Thanks, John, for hosting this guest post. Over the course of the next few days, I’ll be travelling around the blogosphere, talking about different aspects of the book, and of classic crime. Here’s a list of the remaining stops on my blog tour:

Sat., Jul 1 – Confessions of a Mystery Novelist (interview)
Sun., Jul 2 – Eurocrime
Mon., Jul 3 – Tipping My Fedora
Tue., Jul 4 – Desperate Reader
Wed., Jul 5 – Clothes in Books
Thu., Jul 6 – Emma’s Bookish Corner
Fri., Jul 7 – Random Jottings

The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books will be published in the UK on July 7 by the British Library, and in the US on August 1 by Poisoned Pen Press.


  1. I'm really looking forward to this one.

  2. Thank you, Martin, for this information about the book, and also for editing the many fine British Library short story collections I've enjoyed over the years, including Miraculous Mysteries, which I just finished.

  3. I just wanted to add my compliments to Martin's, John. Pretty Sinister is an international treasure.

  4. I'll be adding this to my mystery shelves (which are pretty much taking over the apartment once again), Martin. And I love the cover.

  5. Thanks so much for hosting this post, John. Much appreciated.

  6. Great to see you both together on one blog! I have just started the book and am really enjoying it - as I knew I would.