This is a blog about crime fiction, but occasionally I like to feature other books that interest me, especially if I can introduce a crime-related element. With the ICC Cricket World Cup now in full swing, I've had a chance to catch up with the official book about the tournament, put together by Chris Hawkes, and published by Carlton. It's a glossy production, lavishly illustrated, with plenty of interesting background information.
For instance, I had no idea that cricket was being played in Afghanistan way back in 1839, long before Dr Watson picked up a Jezail bullet prior to meeting Sherlock Holmes. Arthur Conan Doyle was a keen cricketer, and the names of Sherlock and his brother Mycroft both derived from cricketers - Frank Shacklock and William Mycroft, who played for Derbyshire, a county that Doyle knew well.
International cricket has occasionally featured in crime fiction - for instance in Testkill, co-authored by cricketer Ted Dexter and journalist Clifford Makins - but more often it crops up incidentally, in the context of county or (more often) village matches. Authors as diverse as Julian Symons and Henry Wade have set scenes in their crime novels at cricket games, though perhaps the best known example is the cricket match in Dorothy L. Sayers' Murder Must Advertise. And in my current novel-in-progress, for the first time, I am featuring a cricket match in a key scene. The game plays a significant part in one of the sub-plots.
When I get the chance I am keen to watch some of the games in the World Cup, but there is always the consolation that if rain stops play, there are plenty of books to keep me fully occupied; not just the souvenir book about the tournament, but novels which it's time I re-read, such as Alibi Innings by Barbara Worsley-Gough, Pro by Bruce Hamilton (a crime novelist, though it isn't a crime novel) and my favourite cricket book, Settling the Score by Peter Gibbs.