Saturday, 2 August 2014

James Melville and CADS 68

The latest issue of CADS, the 68th instalment of this "irregular magazine of comment and criticism about crime and detective fiction" has just arrived, and is full of good reading. I was sorry, however, to read about the death of James Melville earlier this year - I'd completely missed the announcements that appeared; here is anobituary by his sons which appeared in The Guardian - under his real name of Peter Martin.

As his sons rightly say, James (as I continue to think of him) enjoyed CWA events, and I met him and his partner Carole on a number of occasions. He was intelligent, amusing and genial company, and he also wrote very well. The Otani books were crisp and entertaining and made excellent use of his knowledge of Japan and the Japanese way of life. He was also a reviewer, and I was one of many younger writers who benefited from his generosity and his willingness to cover books that were not necessarily destined to be best-sellers. I shall remember him fondly.

Apart from this sad news, there are many good things to be found in CADS 68, as usual. Malcolm J. Turnbull, author of a very interesting book about Anthony Berkeley, Elusion Aforethought, contributes an excellent study of two books, one by Berkeley and one by John Dickson Carr, which are linked by the same Piccadilly hotel. Other highlights included J.F. Norris's piece on Kathleen Moore Knight and Barry Pike's continuing detailed survey of the Reggie Fortune short stories.

One of great merits of articles that appear in CADS, or other crime fiction reference publications, is that they send you hunting for books you've never read (often, books you've never even heard of). This was one of the reasons why Julian Symons' Bloody Murder remains my favourite book about the genre; although it's not a long book, it introduced me to many wonderful novels - only yesterday, for instance, I mentioned Sudden Death. Some of Julian's more sweeping generalisations in Bloody Murder get a bit of a critical kicking from time to time by other commentators, including me, but his book remains a masterpiece of its kind, setting a standard of lucidity, wit, knowledge and flair that hardly anyone else has ever matched.

I've never heard of Michael Keyes, or his solitary crime novel from the Golden Age, but Margaret Cooper's short piece about it makes me want to read it. Similarly, there is a characteristically well researched article by Curtis Evans about Anthony Rolls' early books that makes me determined to track down a couple I haven't read. Rolls was a pen-name sometimes used by C.E. Vulliamy, and what  pleases me in particular (given that Curt's taste in mysteries and mine quite often coincide) is the discovery that some of the titles I have yet to find sound as though they really will justify the search.


J said...

I just ordered a copy!

Martin Edwards said...

Great- let me know what you think.