Monday, 26 March 2012

Dead Image and Avon Street

The combination of history with mystery is a beguiling one. It's hard to believe now, but when Agaaha Christie wrote a whodunit set in Ancient Egypt, Death Comes as the End, it was an unusual - and rather brave - thing to do. Now, historical mysteries abound, and a number of authors have carved terrific reputations in the field.

I first came across The History Press when they agreed to publish last year's Murder Squad anthology, Best Eaten Cold. The book appeared under a new imprint, The Mystery Press, and this is a brand which seems to be going from strength to strength.

Two recent titles from this stable deserve particular mention. Dead Image, by Joan Lock, is a paperback edition of a book which first appeared more than a decade ago. Joan Lock is a former police officer (so was her late husband Bob, a chap with a delightful sense of humour whom I first met, with Joan, at CWA conferences more than 20 years ago.) She has a great deal of expertise in the field of police history, and this book, featuring Detective Sergeant Best, is a typically well-researched and entertaining novel. Joan is definitely an author to check out, and an acknowledged expert in her field.

Paul Emanuelli, in contrast, is a new name to me. His book Avon Street, is a tale of murder in Victorian Bath. As Peter Lovesey has shown, Bath is a fascinating setting for a mystery, and Emanuelli has produced an adventure story with its roots - as a short afterword explains - in reality. There's some good stuff here, but the book is twice as long as Dead Image, and I think Joan Lock's book shows that there is often a great deal of merit in concision, even if it means excluding some interesting research material.


Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - Thanks for this update on this new imprint. Certainly there are some good, strong names there. It'll be interesting to see where they go.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Margot.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Both sound interesting. I think I'd especially enjoy the 2nd, with the Bath setting...such a beautiful place.

Paul said...

Hi Martin,
Yes, it's my real name - Italian granparents.
"Avon Street" is my first book and thank you for reviewing it.
Bath grew to be a character in its own right as I wrote the book. I wanted to reveal some of the illusion that it has always hidden behind, and take the reader beyond the Georgian facades and images of Austen.

Martin Edwards said...

Congratulations on the book, Paul and I look forward to the next.