Monday, 8 June 2015

The Return of Edmund Crispin and Alexander Wilson

The republication of classic crime novels continues apace with two rather different, attractively produced new series. The first comes from Harper Collins, who are starting to reissue the books of Edmund Crispin in paperback. Three titles have recently appeared: Love Lies Bleeding, The Moving Toyshop, and Holy Disorders. Each book features Crispin's amateur sleuth Gervase Fen, and my understanding is that the rest of Crispin's books are likely to appear in similar editions in due course.

Crispin was a lively and intelligent writer who enjoyed the game-playing aspect of detective fiction, even though he came along at the end of the Golden Age (which is why he is mentioned only in passing in The Golden Age of Murder; alas, had I tried to cover writers like Crispin, Christianna Brand and Dorothy Bowers in detail, the book would have been even weightier.)

Crispin was influenced by the likes of fellow Oxford man, Michael Innes, and John Dickson Carr. His work has always retained an appeal to readers; I recall listening to a very enthusiastic discussion of his work by Susan Moody a while back, which revived my interest in his work. So his books have never been too hard to find; all the same, it's good to see these new editions. Here's my take on The Moving Toyshop.

Alexander Wilson, in contrast, really is a forgotten writer. But perhaps not for much longer. Allison & Busby have set about reprinting his thrillers, with cover artwork in a style eerily reminiscent of the British Library Crime Classics series (though where are the wonderful introductions? Only joking!) Wilson was a spy as well as a writer, and there's a very interesting Wikipedia page about him. The first three titles to appear are: Mystery of Tunnel 51, The Devil's Cocktail, and Wallace of the Secret Service.

8 comments:

R.T. said...

I must thank you for reminding me of a title that I have wanted to read but have been unable to find: The Moving Toyshop. Now there is hope!

BTW, Crimes in the Library has been revived and reactivated, and I look forward to your visits and comments.

http://crimesinthelibrary.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

I love Crispin's books. Every few years I binge read all of the novels and then put them away so that I don't get bored with them. Even within such a small output he managed to vary his style enormously. They're all funny, but farce and wit predominate in different novels. It's such a shame that there are only 11 books. When I read the title of your post I thought for a split second that a unpublished Crispin had been found. Oh well.....

Gary

lyn said...

Edmund Crispin is an old favourite of mine so I'm glad to see that he'll be back in print again. I haven't heard of Wilson but he sounds intriguing. The similarity in the A&B covers is surely just the highest form of flattery?! I finished reading Golden Age at the weekend & have just reviewed it on my blog. I enjoyed it very much &, like most of the reviewers I've read, it's resulted in an increase in my tbr pile.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, R.T. - good news about Crimes in the Library! And thanks, Gary - sorry to raise your hopes for a nanosecond!

Martin Edwards said...

Lynn, agreed about the sincerest form of flattery. And thanks so much for your kind words about the magnum opus!

dfordoom said...

I read The Devil's Cocktail recently. Wilson was certainly an interesting personality. I'm looking forward to getting hold of The Mystery of Tunnel 51.

Here's my take on The Devil's Cocktail -

http://tinyurl.com/qgb57ja

Christine said...

Edmund Crispin is a favourite with many, I think. Moira at Clothesinbooks.com and I today posted lists of eight books featuring churches and cathedrals. We both chose Holy Disorders independently.

Clothes In Books said...

... as Chrissie says, that makes three mentions by us over a couple of days: impressive. I do like Crispin.

I don't know the other writer you mention, Martin, but will take a look. Great titles...