Thursday, 7 May 2015
Never mind the General Election. For me, the exciting event of 7 May 2015 has to be the long-awaited (by me, anyway) UK publication of The Golden Age of Murder. When I reflect on how many years ago I started researching for a potential book about detective fiction, I find it hard to believe that it's finally hitting the shelves. I'm at least as excited as when my first novel was published.
Many people helped me to make the book into what it is. I've mentioned plenty of names in the acknowledgements, and I hope I haven't forgotten too many, but I'd like to make special mention of my agent, James Wills, and my editor, David Brawn. I wondered for several years whether I would find anyone in the publishing world who believed in this book. James and David do, and for that, I'll always be grateful.
One always wonders how one's new book will be received, and I was more than usually nervous about this one, given its very ambitious and unorthodox nature - and, let's face it, the fact that it's not exactly a slim volume. To say that I've been thrilled by the reviews to date is no exaggeration. I have highlighted the key quotes here. It's intensely rewarding to see some of the same enthusiastic phrases recurring in reviews written on both sides of the Atlantic.
I found, both at Malice Domestic, and at a talk I gave to members of the Liverpool Athenaeum yesterday, that there is enormous affection for and interest in Golden Age fiction. This has been under-estimated for decades, but the success of the British Library Crime Classics (over a quarter of a million paperbacks sold!) has shown that the appeal of classic mysteries is not just confined to a few diehards. The best books of the past have continuing appeal to vast numbers of readers.
Sarah Weinman has just said of The Golden Age of Murder: "this love he has for crime fiction permeates every page of this book." Despite being non-fiction, this is a very personal book, and I'm glad that I've managed to convey my love of the genre. My hope is that the book will inspire others, especially those who are not instinctive Golden Age fans, to take a fresh look at the wonderful fiction of the past, and to see it in a new light.