Just over a month ago, I was delighted to report the republication, the first for many a long year, of E.C.R. Lorac's Bats in the Belfry. I've been very glad to learn from the British Library that the book has sold really well, and has already been reprinted. Quite something. And this more than vindicates the decision the Library took last year to acquire the rights to a second Lorac title, which has also now been published.
Fire in the Thatch has a rural setting, and so is very different in that respect, as well as in terms of plot, from Bats in the Belfry. In the early years of her career, Lorac often set her books in London, whereas later on, especially after she relocated to the Lune Valley, her main focus was on life (and death) in the countryside. The cover artwork of this particular edition strikes me as delightful, and very much in keeping with many readers' impression of Golden Age fiction.
There's no doubt that setting does influence the way one writes a novel. My first eight books all had urban backgrounds, seven in Liverpool, one in London, and when my new editor said he'd like me to consider a new series with a rural setting, I wasn't sure about it. In fact, I'm really glad I took up the challenge, and I'm sure that Lorac also enjoyed a change of scene for her crime stories. I don't want to give any spoilers in relation to Fire in the Thatch, but if you read it, you'll see that it is structured rather differently from Bats in the Belfry. Lorac was a more versatile writer than many people realise.
It will be interesting to see how Fire in the Thatch is received. My hope is that more Loracs will be republished, and there are certainly plenty of titles to choose from. The enthusiasm of readers for vintage crime stories seems, if anything, to be growing. The good news is that there are still plenty of titles out there waiting for someone to publish them...