Monday, 26 September 2016

Collecting Crime Fiction


There is, it seems to me, increasing interest in collecting crime fiction. This is reflected in a new Pan Macmillan  blog post on the subject. PanMac talked to the rare book dealers, Peter Harrington, who in turn asked me for my thoughts. Take a look at that illustrated copy of Poirot Investigates, then take a deep breath, and take a look at the price. £75,000! Wow...

Coincidentally, it was a first edition copy of Poirot Investigates that first fired my interest in rare and collectible detective fiction. My law firm decided to celebrate my 21st anniversary with the business, and presented me with a copy. No dust jacket, needless to say, (I've since acquired a facsimile of the original to keep the book in good condition) but I was and remain enormously pleased by this wonderful gift.

Until that time, I'd been an avid collector of crime fiction, but entirely from the point of view of reading the books. Given the choice between a first edition and a cheap and battered copy, I'd opt for economy every time. But Poirot Investigates introduced me to a new world, which I have to say I have found unexpectedly fascinating and rewarding. I soon became enamoured of signed and inscribed books from the past, and those of you who have read The Golden Age of Murder will know that these made a very significant - and, I like to think, unusual, perhaps unique - contribution to that book.

My most recent major acquisition was at Bouchercon just over a week ago. I decide to celebrate my receipt of the Macavity award by buying a rare item - a first American edition of Bruce Hamilton's first book, To Be Hanged - complete with blurb from his famous godfather, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and the original wrap-around band which is in itself scarce. I'll be adding that to my web page on collecting crime fiction before long. In the meantime, the illustration at the top of this blog shows another unusual book - John Creasey's long-forgotten thriller Thunder in Europe, again with a wrap-around band, and most interestingly of all, with a personal inscription to fellow thriller writer Dennis Wheatley.

6 comments:

J said...

I collect both Creasey and Wheatley--could you please post an image of the inscription?

lisa shevin said...

I still ( for financial reasons) mostly buy the cheaper copies) but I am coming around to you're way of thinking. To date though my most expensive purchase was a £45 copy of a Lorac title. But if I could, I would!

Art Taylor said...

I know what you mean, Martin. The reading copy may be the one to opt for, for a variety of reasons, but there's something beautiful and desirable about those first editions.... And good to splurge now and again--especially in the wake of nice news. Congrats again on the Macavity!

Martin Edwards said...

J - I am hoping to get various images and commentary relating to this book and others on my website before long. Thanks for your interest.

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Lisa, I suspect a nice Lorac is not only a good investment, but also very rewarding in other ways.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Art. It was grand to see you again in New Orleans, and I look forward to a longer chat next time our paths cross - at Malice if not before. I'm also going to Left Coast next year...