Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Bello and a Murder Omnibus

The rapid growth of print on demand and digital publishing is having the happy effect of reviving all kinds of detective novels that were, until recently, hard to find. One of the most significant entrants in the market is Bello, an arm of Pan Macmillan, and I’ve been impressed with their enthusiasm for neglected gems o the genre.

I first came across them when I was asked to write an introduction to an omnibus of three revived mysteries. It turned out to be a pleasurable task. A Game of Murder, by Francis Durbridge, was one of the novels – it happens to be a book I’ve covered in this blog, and I still remember watching the original TV series on which the novel was based. A very entertaining and twisty story.

Murder in Moscow, by Andrew Garve, illustrates that author’s deep knowledge of Russia and the Russian way of life. Garve (real name, Paul Winterton) was a journalist who visited the country in the early 30s and he wrote factual books about the place, as well as novels set there. The final book in the omnibus was Prescription for Murder, one of the long series of novels that the late David Williams wrote featuring Mark Treasure -  a likeable banker, in the days when bankers were allowed to be likeable. The omnibus is due to be launched at the Harrogate Festival this week, and I hope that, even though the focus of the Festival is naturally on contemporary crime, there will be a chance to interest readers in worthwhile writers of the past as well.

From talking to people at Bello, I’m convinced that the imprint (can a digital publisher be said to have an imprint? I guess so) will become increasingly prominent. Among the other crime novelists they are bringing back into the limelight is Josephine Bell, a writer as reliable as Garve. There are a lot of unknown, but worthwhile, books from the 20th century waiting to be rediscovered, and I’m confident that Bello will be among the leaders in making sure that happens.

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