Monday, 16 July 2012

Harry Devlin is back!

I’m truly thrilled to say that my early Harry Devlin books, set in Liverpool, are now enjoying a new life. They are available as ebooks, in new editions with some very special features that I hope readers will find fascinating. For me, it’s all very exciting. And the books are also being made available again, for those who prefer hard copies, in paperback editions.

Andrews UK, who specialise in ebooks and print on demand editions, have now produced six of the eight titles in this way – the whole series, that is, with the exception at present of Eve of Destruction and the much more recent Waterloo Sunset.

The most notable of the special features is that each book benefits from a brand new introduction by a leading crime writer. I’ve been extraordinarily lucky here – this original material, only available in these editions, comes from some of the most gifted and renowned of modern British writers.

CWA Gold Dagger Winner Frances Fyfield introduces my debut novel, All the Lonely People. Frances reviewed my earliest work in legal magazines (she and I, like Harry, are solicitors) and I have long felt an enormous debt of gratitude to her for her encouragement.

The same is true of Val McDermid, the CWA Diamond Dagger winner who has written a new introduction to the second book in the series, Suspicious Minds. Val reviewed one or two of the early Devlins very favourably, and her generous remarks in this new edition made me glow with pride.

I Remember You, the third book in the series, has an introduction from Margaret Murphy – the current joint winner of the CWA Short Story Dagger. Margaret is not only an old friend, but someone who knows Harry Devlin’s Liverpool  better than most.

Yesterday’s Papers, perhaps my favourite Devlin book, has an introduction from another CWA Diamond Dagger winner, Peter Lovesey. Again, Peter is a superstar of the genre who has supported me generously for many years. He and I share an enthusiasm for classic, twisty plots, and it seemed to me appropriate that this particularly elaborate mystery should include an intro from such a master of the genre.

A third CWA Diamond Dagger winner, Andrew Taylor, kindly wrote the introduction to The Devil in Disguise. This was a book I really enjoyed writing, though I remember being mortified when my original publisher didn’t care for it. As a result, I moved to Hodder, with increased sales as a result. Andrew was a Hodder author too, and we launched this book, and one of his Lydmouth titles, at the same enjoyable event in the late lamented Mysterious Press bookshop in London.

Finally, there is First Cut is the Deepest, with an introduction from Kate Ellis, twice shortlisted for the CWA Short Story Dagger.  This was the last Devlin story I wrote before taking a ten-year break, and it is also the longest and perhaps the most complex entry in the series. Kate, like Margaret, is a Liverpudlian with a deep love for Harry’s home city.

For each book, I have written a detailed new “Making of” feature, along the lines that you find in DVDs. There is also a biographical note, and an appreciation of my work which has most generously been contributed by former CWA Chair, Michael Jecks.

Each book includes a “preview chapter” for the next book in the sequence, a device that I hope will encourage people who dip into the series for the first time to return to it.

As we all know, the world of publishing is changing rapidly. With all change, there are advantages and drawbacks. But I am very optimistic that for writers like myself, who do not have massive publicity teams or budgets at their disposal, that digital publishing will help to make the books available to a new and wider readership. We shall see. One thing is for sure: it’s enormously gratifying to see these early books given a fresh life.

I can’t close this post without expressing my profound gratitude to Frances, Val, Margaret, Peter, Andrew, Kate and Michael, all of whom offered their contributions without the slightest degree of arm-twisting! (The same is true of CWA Gold Dagger winner Ann Cleeves, whose introduction to Eve of Destruction is at present unfortunately unavailable because of the frustrating and unhelpful attitude of the rights owner.) Generous people, as well as terrific writers, and I am proud to call them friends.


David A. said...

I've just read All The Lonely People in the Arcturus reissue and enjoyed it. It's a fine piece of writing, very strong on character and relationships. I did feel that there was not quite enough happening in the book, and a little too much "sameyness" in what *was* happening. How would you write it differently today?

seana said...

What great news. I can't wait to begin at the beginning with these. And yes, stellar line up in introductions.

Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - Oh, that's wonderful news! Thank you for sharing it.

lyn said...

This is great news, Martin. I recently bought the Arcturus edition of All the Lonely People & I look forward to reading it, knowing I can download the rest of the series. Congratulations on getting Harry back into print!

crimeficreader said...

Excellent news, Martin. I will be sure to post on the blog when I have a moment.

Dorte H said...

What great news! Congratulations, Martin.

And it is good to hear there are publishers who come up with new, creative ideas for how to give old series a new lease.

Maxine Clarke said...

Congratulations, Martin, this is wonderful news for you. I love the "intro and endnotes" ideas, they make the Harper Perennial edition of the Martin Beck books by Sjowall and Wahloo such a pleasure, as I am sure yours will be, too.

John said...

It's great when a series character gets a "rebirth" of sorts. Congrats! More people can now discover the amazing Devlin - the man who got you started way back when. (doesn't it seem like ages?)

Fiona said...

This is terrific news! I have all the books (having found second hand copies) and I love Harry; it has seemed such a pity that the titles were not available. The new introductions certainly tempt me to buy replacement copies! In the current economic climate, when it appears to be difficult to get anything published, it's a great (and well deserved) show of faith
by your publisher.

Marina Sofia said...

It will be so nice seeing them all together, with new intros and additional features - bit like DVD reissues of classic films.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Very nice indeed, Martin.

Patrick said...

Okay, Martin, that's it. I'm headed to Amazon right this instant and finally getting one of your books for my Kindle. Which means that, with my usual efficiency, I should have it read within the next decade... if I'm lucky.

Martin Edwards said...

Very many thanks for all your comments, which I much appreciate. I read some interesting comments on Friend Feed which pointed out I hadn't included any Buy Now links on this post. An example, perhaps, of why I need to spend more time thinking about how I market my books! Anyway, for the moment, more information is being included on my website.
David, there's no brief answer to your question. I see that book as lively and energetic, a younger man's book. Today I'd pack more into it and perhaps not just have a relentless single point of view throughout. My later books tend to be more varied in terms of point of view, but a single viewpoint does add some intensity.

Anonymous said...

I've only just discovered your site and your novels having done some searches on "Dennis Wheatley crime dossier" of all things! (I have collected all of these as well as the American crimefiles and the Sherlock Holmes series.) Nonetheless, Harry Devlin sounds intriguing. How about some introductory ebook pricing on the first Harry Devlin, like you have for the lake district series? ;-)