Today I'd like to highlight an enjoyably mixed bag of books,starting with Steve Dolman's wonderful first book, published by the Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians, and entitled Edwin Smith: a life in Derbyshire Cricket. Now, one or two of you may wonder how I can possibly claim that this has any relevance to a blog about crime writing, but you might be surprised. For Steve has kindly quoted me in the book, and revealed to the world the connection between Edwin Smith and the murky neverland of crime fiction!
Edwin is now 81 years old, but when I was growing up, he was one of the cricketers I admired, and the point is made in the book that nowadays, a player of such abiltiy would almost certainly have enjoyed a career as a Test cricketer. But things were very different then. Steve runs the Peakfan blog, which for me is required reading as I pore over the latest calamities to beset Derbyshire cricket, and he has done a great job in telling a life story which also presents a rather sobering picture of the times, and the hardships that sportsmen from humble backgrounds endured in the Fifties and Sixties. As befits a chap who spent many years working in library services, Steve is an accomplished and fair-minded writer, and I'm delighted to say that he arranged for Edwin himself to sign my copy. It goes on the shelf alongside a couple of signed Agatha Christies!
John Harvey is one of Britain's leading crime novelists and has been for upwards of twenty years. He's also a gifted exponent of the short story, and his 'Fedora' is one of the best crime stories I've read in the last decade. His latest story, "Ask Me Now", leads a new collection of stories by Nottingham writers, These Seven, published by Five Leaves. The other contributors include the late Alan Sillitoe, a writer whose work made a great impression on me in my youth. As a student, I attended a talk he gave, and found it as fascinating as his fiction.
Changing the mood a little, I'd also like to mention a new thriller by John Hegenberger called Tripl3 Cross. It's a follow-up to Cross Examinations, and there is a clue in the titles:the protagonist is Eliot Cross. One particularly interesting feature is the Cuban setting, with which the author has been familiar for many years. Cuba always sounds like a fascinating place, and is on my to-be-visited list. The publisher is Rough Edges Press.
All three books, in other words, come from relatively small publishers, with limited (or non-existent) publicity budgets. I'm glad to give each of them a mention, because small presses play an invaluable role in the world of books, one that deserves to be celebrated. The world would be a much poorer place without them.