Monday, 19 February 2018

Mr Bowling is Back!


Mr Bowling Buys a Newspaper Hardcover  by

I'm delighted that Harper Collins have republished Donald Henderson's Mr Bowling Buys a Newspaper in their splendid Detective Story Club series. It's an interesting book by an extremely interesting author. And it was lauded by, among others, Raymond Chandler. He referred to the book in his famous essay "The Simple Art of Murder", and separately he said: "I think it is one of the most fascinating books written in the last ten years."

Many years ago, it was Chandler's essay that caused me to search out the book, but it wasn't easy to find. He pointed out that it hadn't sold many copies, and added "There is something wrong with the book business". Well, the book business is certainly odd at times, and always unpredictable. Henderson was unlucky, although at last he's receiving his due, a nicely produced and very reasonably priced hardback reprint.

I hope the book does really well, because Henderson and his work deserve to be better known. Another book of his, Goodbye to Murder, was published as a Pan paperback, but other than that I'd never seen any of his other novels until last year, when I came across several. And my interest has in part been inspired by Paul Harding, who has researched Henderson's life, and allowed me to see Henderson's unpublished memoir, "The Brink". I've written the intro to this new edition, and the information Paul shared with me was not only fascinating but really helpful.

Henderson had a life that was often sad, and he died in his mid-forties, just when his career might finally have been about to take off. But he really could write, and I hope and expect that this won't be the last of his books to gain a fresh life in the twenty-first century.

5 comments:

Eric Bruce said...

This novel and " Goodbye to Murder" have recently been published by Black Heath Editions at a bargain price. i share your enthusiasm having just read both.

RJS said...

And it can be purchased on Kindle for 99p via Amazon!

The Passing Tramp said...

A good choice.

Mike Storey said...

And Mr Bowling is also to be had as an audiobook, with a perfectly pitched narration by Tim Frances (a reader new to me, but one I will keep an ear out for in the future). I've been listening to it on and (very reluctantly!) off all day. Donald Henderson's writing is spare, gripping, intimate, and by turns sad and blackly humorous. I'm not surprised Chandler admired it, and it's a pity Alfred Hitchcock was firmly established in Hollywood by the time the book was published - it had the perfect plot for him as a Londoner who enjoyed shocking his audience.
As it turned out, it was left to the BBC to bring it to the screen as a television play - twice, the action on both occasions apparently being confined to a small Kensington hotel. The first, in December 1950, ran for 100 minutes (and could well have been broadcast live); the second was a 90 minute version broadcast on Saturday 15 June 1957. Earlier that same evening, viewers had been treated to the first episode of Wideawake, a new serial by one of your favourite mystery writers, Michael Gilbert. So it was a great night for crime fans - and for actress Myrtle Reed, who appeared in both the serial and the play!
[Martin - you may wish to edit out anything I've written that you've already covered in your introduction to the hardback, which sadly isn't included in the audiobook.]

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks for these comments. Mike, that's really interesting about Wideawake. Quite a coincidence. I presume the TV versions no longer exist - a real shame.