Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Murder in the Library

I've been meaning for ages to visit the British Library, and I finally achieved this ambition the other day, although I only had time to pop in very quickly before catching a train from nearby Euston. However, the brief visit was not only long enough to whet my appetite for this impressive place, but also to allow me to look round a small but interesting exhibition, Murder in the Library: an A to Z of Crime Fiction.

As the title suggests, the exhibition is organised on alphabetical lines, rather than thematically or chronologically. This is a perfectly sensible idea for a small-scale look at the genre. It goes without saying that it cannot hope to be comprehenive - even a multi-volume set of books about the genre could not be. But I found it entertainingly and sympathetically presented, with some fascinating items and rare manuscripts, including one from Conan Doyle..

Above all, I was pleased to discover a number of items that were completely unfamiliar to me. These included The Tokyo Zodiac Murders, and a modern Georgian equivalent of the Dennis Wheatley "crime dossiers", called Mr Deaxley's Silent Box. I'd be very interested to hear from anyone who has come across either of these fascinating-looking works.

I also had a bonus when I went into the British Library shop - and found plenty of copies of All the Lonely People on display. That doesn't happen so often that I'm indifferent about it! And there were also copies of the new edition of Ask a Policeman. Yes, my first visit to the British Library was entirely positive, and I hope to spend more time there before too long.


J F Norris said...

The Tokyo Zodiac Murders is a cult favorite among anyone who considers himeself an impossible crime fan. I'm surprised it is included as I thought the exhibit was only about British crime fiction. Obviosuly I was wrong. It's an ingenious and completely gruesome take on the subgenre. Anyone who is familar with brain teasing puzzles might be able to figure out the trick in this one. Highly recommended reading. There are several Japanese writers of honkaku ("orthodox mysteries") who I have read and thought top notch. Apart from Tokyo Zodiac... (which is very hard to surpass) my favorites are The Inugami Clan by Seishi Yokomizo and The Tattoo Murder Case by Akimitsu Takagi.

Martin Edwards said...

Many thanks, John. Sounds like I need to find a copy! Thanks also for the other tips. The exhibition does range very widely, in fact. I was impressed.

Sarah said...

Karen Meek and I are making an afternoon of it on Wednesday. You've whetted our appetite thanks.

J said...

I have been there numerous times, but have almost always missed the big exhibits in which I would have been interested--one on Oscar Wilde, and another on science fiction. It's still a marvelous place to visit (just for the shop!).