One of the joys of the revival of interest in Golden Age detective fiction is that quite an avalanche of long-vanished books are now readily available. As in any era, the quality varies. But the range of books that one can now obtain is striking - within the British Library series, for instance, there's a huge difference between the work of, say, Alan Melville, E.C.R. Lorac, Richard Hull, and Raymond Postgate. So readers can discover new writers, and then focus on those they enjoy most.
Various publishing models have been adopted. The British Library focuses on high quality mass market paperbacks, Harper Collins on hardbacks, and others mainly on ebooks and print on demand publications. Dean Street Press fall into the latter camp. They do a really good job, and I'm not just saying that because I've written a few intros for them. Their model makes it possible to reissue a large number of books by the same author. The complete works of Annie Haynes, say, would not be commercially viable if the focus were on mass market paperbacks, because their isn't enough interest in them for the books to be sold in large quantities in paperback format. But thanks to DSP, we can now try out Annie's work in ebook or as a print on demand paperback, and much else besides. One of the DSP authors whom I particularly enjoy is Peter Drax, and I'll be saying more about his books in the future.
At present, DSP are reissuing, in large batches, the Ludovic Travers novels of Christopher Bush. Bush was a writer who wrote so much that sometime quality suffered, but I really enjoyed The Case of the Monday Murders, first published in 1936. The mystery is good, even if I did guess the solution early on, but the satiric touches are even better. This book contains plenty of swipes at Bush's fellow practitioners, and as Curtis Evans says in his intro, the character of crime writer Ferdinand Pole, founder of the Murder League, is surely based on Anthony Berkeley. One chapter title is borrowed from Philip Macdonald: "Murder Gone Mad". There's also a hint of self-mockery in the killer's taunting letters, signed "Justice", which might make one recall the comparable correspondence in Bush's own The Perfect Murder Case.
The funniest moment in the book is when Bush mocks Dorothy L. Sayers and E.R. Punshon in the same breath, parodying Sayers' famous review lauding E.R. Punshon (in the guise of "Petrie Cubbe"), but attributing it to Pole. It does make you wonder how on earth Bush managed to earn election to the Detection Club the year after this book came out, especially since Berkeley was famously thin-skinned. It would be good to think that those who are guyed took it in good part. Or perhaps they just didn't read it! (Though given how many of them were prolific reviewers, that would be surprising). Whatever the truth, the great thing is that readers today have the chance to enjoy this one, and I suspect that it is one of Bush's best.