Monday, 29 February 2016
Serpents in Eden and other British Library Crime Classics
The British Library is responding to reader demand by continuing to publish a diverse range of titles in its Crime Classics series. The latest John Bude book, Death on the Riviera, which is in my opinion highly enjoyable, is selling tremendously well, while my anthology Murder at the Manor is also going great guns. The next anthology in the series, Serpents in Eden, is now out, and here I've gathered together stories about crime in the countryside. Some great writers features - Conan Doyle, E.C. Bentley, Margery Allingham and the under-valued H.C. Bailey among them. And there are also some less familiar names, including Leonora Wodehouse - yes, the daughter of the legendary P.G....
I'd also like to mention two other novelists whose work is due to appear in the series shortly. The first is Miles Burton, one of the aliases of Major John Cecil Street - crime fans know him best as the ultra-prolific John Rhode. The BL have opted to publish two of his stories about Desmond Merrion - The Secret of High Eldersham and Death in the Tunnel.
A writer who was, I have to confess,previously unknown to me before the BL identified his potential is John Rowland. He usually wrote about Inspector Shelley, who features in Murder in the Museum and Calamity in Kent. In writing my introductions to the books, I benefited greatly from information supplied by Fytton Rowland, son of the author, and I discovered that Rowland was an interesting chap whose other writing included a tribute to Eden Philpotts and a number of true crime books -including a significant study of the Wallace case.
There's plenty more to come in the second half of the year, including another anthology, and a book that has a quite unique dimension; I'm especially excited about the latter project. At present, my lips are sealed, but all will be revealed before too long!