...and more books. So many good things to read, so little time to read them. And even less to write lengthy blog posts about them, alas, so today I'm going to round up a few among the many interesting titles that have, happily, come my way in recent months. They illustrate the variety of crime writing in a good way, and let me also mention a couple of forthcoming non-crime titles.
Let me start with Len Tyler's latest, Herring in the Smoke, another case for Ethelred Tressider, one of my favourite amateur sleuths. I've been a fan of this series since it began, even before I got to know Len personally. And I was greatly amused to come across a reference to myself in the narrative! This is a book that gets off to a brilliant start, when Roger Norton Vane turns up at his own memorial service, twenty years after he went missing and was presumed dead. I was intrigued to see what Len would make of this premise, and while I figured out one plot twist, the ending took me aback. I won't say any more; you'll have to read the book!
Frances Brody has quietly established herself as one of our leading purveyors of historical mystery fiction. When I visited New York recently, I seized - of course - the chance to pop into as many bookshops as possible, and I was pleased to see Frances' books prominently displayed in Barnes and Noble. Pleased, but not surprised, because her history-mystery series about Kate Shackleton has become as popular in the US as it is here. The latest is Death in the Stars, which I'm reading currently and very much enjoying.
Perhaps less well-known than Len and Frances, but certainly an author to watch is Sarah Williams, Not content with writing fiction and non-fiction, she also runs a small press. As S.W. Williams she published her debut novel Small Deaths recently. It's another historical mystery: a serial killer is on the loose behind the lines on the Western Front. As Sarah Williams, she's also responsible for How to Write Crime Fiction, published under the Robinson imprint. I'm a sucker for how-to-write-crime books, I must admit. It's not so much that I want to do all the exercises etc that their authors may suggest, but I find it truly fascinating to see the different approaches that are recommended.
Now someone I've never met, but with whom I've corresponded recently, is Paul Roland. His main field is true crime writing, an area I've ventured into myself, for instance with Urge to Kill and Truly Criminal, a CWA anthology of true crime stories. Paul's work encompasses Jack the Ripper, crime scene investigation, and criminal profiling in In the Minds of Murderers. An author worth bearing in mind if this is your field of interest.
Someone else I've never met is the tireless researcher and anthologist Mike Ashley. Yet I owe Mike quite a debt, because many years ago, he took my first attempt at a Sherlock Holmes story, "The Case of the Suicidal Lawyer" (yep, a joke about the legal life is lurking in there somewhere...) This has led to a hugely enjoyable occasional sideline, culminating in my recent lecture to the Baker Street Irregulars. Anyway, back to Mike. He too has done a good deal of work with the British Library, and now he's edited two meaty anthologies of classic science fiction, Moonrise and Lost Mars, which will be the shelves soon. I enjoy quite a few sci-fi writers, and I've started dipping into these collections already. With any luck, this may be the start of an imprint to rival the Crime Classics.