Monday, 10 December 2018

Gallows Court - the special editions


I'm absolutely thrilled that my publishers Head of Zeus have produced two very special editions of Gallows Court for collectors. These are signed limited editions, 75 in a numbered series, and 26 in a lettered sequence. I've never before had a limited edition produced of any of my novels, and this initiative is particularly gratifying for me, given that I'm a huge fan of beautifully produced limited editions, and have quite a few in my own collection.

The production details are: notched case, quarter bound with Wibalin Buckram on the spine. And each copy, as I say, is signed. (Yes, I know the old joke about unsigned copies having greater scarcity value, but never mind!)



For anyone interested in acquiring a copy, perhaps as a Christmas gift, here are the ordering details:

TO ORDER:
Call 01256 302692 or email your order and phone number to direct@macmillan.co.uk and someone will call you back.
The order line is open 8.30am - 5.30pm (GMT) Monday to Friday.
To process your order you will need the title, author name and ISBN (please select the correct ISBN for the edition you wish to purchase from the below), as well as quantity and your delivery address. Payment details will be taken over the phone but your card will not be charged until your order is despatched.
Quote promo code RC5 to receive free p&p within the UK.
Order details: 
GALLOWS COURT SPECIAL EDITION LETTERED, Martin Edwards, ISBN 9781789541748, £100
GALLOWS COURT SPECIAL EDITION NUMBERED, Martin Edwards, ISBN 9781789541113, £50   



Friday, 7 December 2018

Forgotten Book - On Suspicion

Dulan Friar Whilberton Barber (a great name!) was a talented novelist who wrote crime fiction under the rather less memorable name David Fletcher. His career in the genre lasted fifteen years, and the quality of his writing suggested that, (even though I think it's fair to say that he was never a leader in the field), there was a good chance that he might have become a major star. Sadly, it wasn't to be, because he died of a heart attack at the age of only forty-seven.

I remember borrowing his books from the library in the 70s and 80s, and my wife met him when she went on an Arvon writers' course which he was leading; she was impressed. Recently, I was pleased to acquired the inscribed dedication copy of a suspense novel he published in 1985, On Suspicion, which I hadn't come across before.

At first the story looks as though it will turn into a rite-of-passage narrative. The focus is on 18 year old Nick Garfield, who has just passed his exams with flying colours and is destined for Oxford. But the story becomes something darker when, having stumbled across a corpse when taking a girlfriend into the woods, Nick becomes a suspect in a serial killer investigation.

This is, essentially, a book about character and relationships. The plot twists are essentially character-related. We know that Nick is innocent, but he tells stupid lies in a manner reminiscent of John Bingham's Michael Sibley, and the police pursue him relentlessly. It's a highly readable story, and although there are one or two points which bothered me and which I'd have liked Fletcher to elaborate upon, I found it gripping. Dulan Barber alias David Fletcher left us too soon, and deserves to be better known. 

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Do You Know This Voice? - 1964 film review

Do You Know This Voice? is a shortish British film based on a novel of the same name published in 1961. The author was Evelyn Berckman, someone I've not yet read, but there is enough in this movie to persuade me that her books would be well worth seeking out. Apparently, she was an American who moved to Britain, having published her first novel at the age of 54, and she went on to carve herself quite a reputation. She also published several books on the unexpected topic of naval history.

At first, the film seems to be a mystery about a kidnapping. A mysterious individual makes a phone call to the parents of a kidnapped child, demanding money they haven't got. The parents call in the police, in the fairly sympathetic shape of that excellent character actor Peter Madden. He arranges for the kidnapper's next call to be tape-recorded. But alas, things go terribly wrong. The faint-hearted should be warned that this is a story in which a child dies, and so does a domestic pet. I'm not sure how many writers would risk that nowadays...

As the title suggests, the police issue a public appeal for information about the mysterious caller. But in a plot twist (quite neat, but foreseeable) the identity of the person in question is quickly revealed, and the film becomes a suspense story, as a desperate killer tries more than once to murder the one woman who can reveal the caller's identity.

The tension is nicely built up, and this film has won admirers over the years. The cast is pretty good, with another good actor, Gwen Watford, playing an important part; Dan Duryea is at the heart of the action, as is the Italian Isa Miranda. My main reservation about the storyline is that the killer is ludicrously incompetent. Frankly, it was inconceivable that someone so clueless would ever get away with murder, even though the police make a fair few blunders as well. And the relationship between the married couple at the centre of the story, although very interesting, is not drawn in depth. So I wasn't convinced by the story, but I suspect the source novel is superior. 


Monday, 3 December 2018

The Golden Age of Murder in Japan - and classic crime in China


I've just received my copy of the new Japanese edition of The Golden Age of Murder. And a handsome hardback volume it is. Of course, I can't read a word of it, since I don't speak or read Japanese, but seeing a book that one laboured over for so many years translated in this way is truly gratifying. I'm very grateful to the publishers and the hard-working translators who are, I'm assured by a Japanese friend, highly skilled.

I've never visited Japan (or at least I haven't so far; one never knows what the future may bring) but it's a country that I find increasingly fascinating. This is partly as a result of reading more Japanese detective fiction, partly as a result of having more contact with people from Japan. A couple of years ago, I was flown down to London to take part in a documentary for Japanese TV about classic detective fiction, and there's clearly a great appetite for the genre in Japan.

I wrote about The Tokyo Zodiac Murders the other day, and it's one of a number of ingenious detective novels from Japan which have been translated into English. Pushkin Vertigo have, for instance, published a couple of books by that fascinating character Masako Togawa. I've also enjoyed the work of Alice Arisugawa, whose non-fiction book about locked room mysteries is delightful to leaf through, even if one doesn't know the language, because of the gorgeous illustrations. Japanese culture seems very different to someone like me, raised in conventional fashion in the west. But it's enormously interesting, and Japanese crime fiction certainly appeals to me much at least as much as Nordic Noir. 

I'm delighted to say that there will also be a Chinese translation of The Golden Age of Murder, though that won't be published for another twelve months. In the meantime, I've just received a book from China that I'm really thrilled to see. It's primarily a collection of signatures and inscriptions from classic crime writers, British and American, and again the emphasis on images means that even if, like me, you speak no Chinese, it's still fascinating to look at. I supplied some images of inscribed books from my collection to the two editors, and my congratulations go to Eliot Han and his colleague for producing a splendid and (as far as I know) unique volume. Great stuff!