Monday, 10 October 2016
The Poisoned Chocolates are back!
Today sees the publication of the latest title in the British Library's series of Crime Classics, and for me personally, it's the most pleasurable moment so far of my association with the series as consultant. The book is Anthony Berkeley's Golden Age classic The Poisoned Chocolates Case. And this special edition includes not only an introduction in which I set the context of the book, but two special extras.
As many Golden Age fans already know, the novel is famous for the six different solutions to the mystery of who killed Joan Bendix that are proposed by members of the Crimes Circle, presided over by Roger Sheringham. One of those solutions, put forward by Sheringham himself, is the same as that in Berkeley's short story "The Avenging Chance", which features essentially the same plot. In the novel, however, things turn out very differently indeed...
In the 70s, Berkeley's friend Christianna Brand, herself a noted plot-weaver, wrote a seventh solution which featured in an American reprint of the book. That edition only had a relatively limited circulation, however, and most British fans of the genre haven't read it. The British Library edition does, however, include the Brand solution.
And what's more, it includes a completely new solution - written by me. I found writing this new "epilogue" to the story hugely enjoyable - a challenge, yes, to write in Berkeley's style and to find a fresh way of twisting the mystery, but one I loved undertaking. I know that it's high risk to write in the style of the masters of days gone by, but I've enjoyed writing new Sherlock Holmes stories, and this project was great fun. What others will make of it, time will tell..