Wednesday, 7 January 2015
Bob Adey R.I.P.
I was so sorry to learn, a couple of days ago, that Bob Adey died on Sunday. Regular readers of this blog will recall that not long before Christmas, I listed his Locked Room Murders as one of my top two all-time favourite books about the genre.Nobody has ever known as much about "impossible crimes" as Bob, and his love of traditional crime fiction was long-lasting and deeply rooted. He was also very modest and self-deprecating.
Bob had been collecting detective fiction for a very long time, and was very generous about sharing his knowledge. Recently, I got in touch with him to ask for ideas about obscure detective stories for a forthcoming British Library anthology. Not only did come up with some very good suggestions, he even sent me a photocopy of one story so obscure that neither he nor I have been able to find out anything about the author. He said the story deserved reprinting; I agreed, and so more importantly, did the British Library. He was a reliable judge..
One memorable occasion was when I went to visit Bob and his wife at their home in Worcestershire. I'd heard a great deal about Bob's fabled collection, including the treasure trove held in his garage. Several times I asked him if he had a rare book, and he'd go off to hunt around the garage - and usually he came up with the rarity I wanted. Suffice to say that I found that the reality more than lived up to the expectation. He had amassed an extraordinary range of material. I've never seen anything quite like it in the realm of detective fiction. I look back on that sunny afternoon with great pleasure.
Bob made excellent use of the resources he'd gathered. Among many other projects, he wrote regularly for Geoff Bradley's CADS, and he supplied introductions and editorial material for a range of books. He was a long-time friend of many members of the crime writing community, including America's Doug Greene, with whom he co-produced an anthology, Death Locked In (which I recommend unreservedly) and for whose Crippen & Landru imprint he edited a very engaging collection by Joseph Commings. Recently he supplied an intro to a splendid omnibus volume of the works of the late Derek Smith. Another pal of Bob's was Jamie Sturgeon, who has kindly supplied me with the photo above, which was taken a couple of years back.
I never succeeded in persuading him to set up a website so that all his writings could be accessed via Google, but they are absolutely worth seeking out. I enjoyed our years of email correspondence, and as we are both great football fans, they usually included a soccer component (years ago he used to tease me about the form of my team compared to his; the boot had been on the other foot more recently, but this always gave us both great amusement.) My condolences go to his wife and family. He was a lovely man who will be greatly missed.