Monday, 12 March 2012

Rogue's Gallery

One of the finest writers of short mystery stories is Robert Barnard, who recently published Rogue’s Gallery, the third collection of his short stories to have appeared over the years. Single-author story collections are rare, and it’s a real tribute to both author and publisher (Allison & Busby) that this enjoyable gathering has made it into hard covers.

In these stories, Bob pokes fun at some of his favourite targets – Tory politicians, members of the Royal Family (with special reference here to the marriage of Charles and Diana) and religion. “Sins of Scarlet”, a story set in the Vatican, won the CWA Short Story Dagger in 2006, a source of particular pleasure to me, as it had originally featured in a CWA anthology that I edited.

A couple of the other stories here also featured in CWA collections, although Bob’s most recent story, “Just Popped In”, which appears in Guilty Consciences, was not available. One of the most interesting stories, “The New Slavery”, deals with an important yet under-discussed topic – the way grandparents may be exploited as no-cost child-minders by their own children. It’s clear from the story what Bob’s own views are.

I’m a long-time admirer of Bob Barnard’s work, and a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting him, and his wife Louise, at their home in Armley, Leeds. One of the outcomes will be an article about his career for the US magazine “Mystery Scene”. He’s one of the wittiest of writers, and if you are a Christie fan, I can also recommend his excellent study of the Queen of Crime, A Talent to Deceive.


Deb said...

Robert Barnard is one of my favorite writers. I love his sense of humor and the twists (many times completely unexpected) at the end of his stories. I look forward to reading your article.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Deb. I'm surprised he's not much discussed these days - a truly talented writer.

Paul Beech said...

Hi Martin – I spend a fair chunk of each week looking after grandchildren, so I shall be fascinated – and maybe horrified! – to read Robert Barnard’s ‘The New Slavery’. Having recently read ‘Just Popped In’, I know the sort of twists this witty and seemingly genial writer is capable of.

Interesting, isn’t it, how in short stories writers will sometimes unleash demons from the deep they wouldn’t allow free reign in their novels. Your story ‘Squeaky’ is a good example of what I mean. Mystery shorts seem to occupy an exciting world apart from crime novels and I’d love to see more collections and anthologies in the shops.

‘Rogue’s Gallery’ is definitely a collection I’ll clear room for on my double-stacked shelves. Any sign of a new collection from yourself? I know you’ve written some corkers since ‘Where Do You Find Your Ideas?’

Regards, Paul

aguja said...

I have not heard of this author, but he seems worth looking up. Thank you for the post and introduction to Robert Bernard.

Martin Edwards said...

Aguja, I think you will like his work.
Paul, many thanks.I'm wondering about ebook versions of my short stories, but nothing definite planned as yet. Glad you like Squeaky!