Tomorrow sees the publication in the UK of my latest anthology in the British Library's series of Crime Classics. The unifying theme of Settling Scores is not revenge, but sport. Each story is not only by a different author, but it features a different sport. I'm not aware of any other crime anthology which is quite the same; there was a splendid book edited almost 80 years ago by Ellery Queen, Sporting Blood, but that one included poker, chess, and butterfly collecting.
I'm often asked what my favourites are among my own books - assuming that I do have favourites. Well, I never release a book on an unsuspecting world unless I'm happy with it, and it seems worthy of publication. And naturally it's a matter of personal and professional pride to try to make sure that each book is as good as it possibly can be. That said, inevitably there are books which give rise to different feelings - especially after a lapse of time. And different levels of satisfaction too.
Among my British Library anthologies, I'm especially proud of Foreign Bodies, because of its ambition, and several others, such as The Measure of Malice, strike me as interestingly different from the general run of anthologies. And Settling Scores is right up there, partly because there are some fascinating stories, and partly because I find it intriguing to see how different authors have set about integrating a sporting background into their narrative. I'm hopeful the book will do well.
So what of the specific contents? There's a long story by Julian Symons, set around Wimbledon, and a characteristically accomplished one by Celia Fremlin which is a bit different because it concerns a school sports day. And then there are stories by little-known figures such as F.A.M. Webster, David Winser, and Gerald Verner. Each of these three men, by the way, had a very interesting life, and I recently read a biography of Verner by his son Chris which I'm hoping will be published fairly soon. In the meantime, if you like sport, or if you hate sport but love crime fiction, do consider giving Settling Scores a try...