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..

22 comments:

Fiona said...

Having received a copy at the Bodies From the Library conference back in May I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I had read the original short story many years ago and remembered the basic plot and perpetrator, and thought your extra solution fitted the style very well - a clever twist which was entirely plausible!

Sergio (Tipping my Fedora) said...

Supoib 😀

Jonathan said...

I read 'Poisoned Chocolates Case' a year ago, and I enjoyed so much that I purchased the British Library edition over Kindle. All for the sake of the two alternative endings - despite already owning a hard-copy of the novel. :)

Martin Edwards said...

Fiona, thanks so much - hugely reassuring that it meets with your approval!

Martin Edwards said...

Sergio, Jonathan, thanks. Await your verdicts with interest!

Art Taylor said...

Oh, this sounds like such fun! Looking forward to seeing your solution here, Martin--and to the whole book, of course. :-)

Art Taylor said...

Ah, but another question: I just checked, and couldn't find available in the US--only in UK now? Let me know about US pub and I'll keep an eye out! (or rather ask my favorite local bookstore to). :-)

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Art. The BL books are usually published by Poisoned Pen in the US, sometimes after a short delay. I'll check what's happening.

J F Norris said...

I don't know where Art was looking by the book was released today (Oct. 10, 2016) in the US. I had no trouble finding it at Amazon. If it's there then it's available anywhere in the US, even brick and mortar stores.

I love that you managed to write yet another solution to that book! I'll have to track down an copy just to read your contribution.

Art Taylor said...

Oh, JF, please do include the link!

I searched Amazon for the British Library Crime Classics edition and found the message "This title is currently not available for purchase" despite the Oct. 10 release date listed (see here: https://smile.amazon.com/Poisoned-Chocolates-British-Library-Classics-ebook/dp/B01KIHJMAS)

That's the Kindle, but since I want the paperback, I clicked accordingly and got this: https://smile.amazon.com/Poisoned-Chocolates-Case-Golden-Classics/dp/1934609447/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr= which is a 2010 edition from Golden Age Classics, not the one Martin edited and added to.

Any help will be appreciated!

lisa shevin said...

I also found it and ordered it on amazon u.s. today

Martin Edwards said...

John, Art, Lisa, thank you all. You'll have gathered how much of a thrill it was for me to write the new solution. Not a huge project, but incredibly satisfying and, in this particular case, unique.

Ron Smyth said...

Art Taylor: Anyone who ordered this from Amazon in the US will receive the Felony and Mayhem version from 2010 since US rights are tied up. No extra solution will be included. The British Library version is apparently not allowed for sale in the US.

Art Taylor said...

Thanks for clarification on that, Ron—I was afraid all I was seeing was other editions.

But Martin: I'll track down the new edition one way or another! ;-)

And congrats on this very fun project--and on all you do!

Martin Edwards said...

Much appreciated, Art, and I do hope you find it!

J said...

I ordered mine from Book Depository...

Jonathan said...

Just finished re-reading the novel, as well as reading, for the first time, the Christianna Brand's 'denouement' and your alternative solution. I thought Brand's piece cleverly picked up on one or two subtle threads, while your piece built on the original characterisations very effectively. Thanks for the new edition! :)

Arthur Robinson said...

I ordered my copy last week from Book Depository, which provides free shipping worldwide:

https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Poisoned-Chocolates-Case-Anthony-Berkeley/9780712356534

Today it’s even less than I paid--only US $7.80 (probably because of the exchange rate).

Arthur Robinson

Art Taylor said...

Thanks, Arthur! Much appreciated. Ordered and looking forward to it!

Martin Edwards said...

J, Jonathan, Arthur, thanks for your contributions. Yes, as we in the UK suffer with the exchange rate, there's a silver lining for my American friends!

mike fowle said...

I had the pleasure of hearing you talk at the Felixstowe Book Festival and was left in awe at your encyclopaedic knowledge. I've bought this and can understand your enthusiasm and interest in Anthony Berkeley. I read The Avenging Chance in an old anthology years ago and I can see how and why Berkeley extracted the Roger Sherringham part from the novel to make a short story (if that's what happened). I am reading the novel slowly to savour it and really looking forward to your solution.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Mike. Very much hope you enjoy the rest of the novel - and the new solution!