I'm thrilled that, for the first time, the British Library is going to include in its Crime Classics series a book that has never before been published. This is Two-Way Murder by E.C.R. Lorac, an author who enjoyed success in her lifetime and is now finding a new and appreciative readership among fans of the Crime Classics who have responded very positively to books like Bats in the Belfry, Murder by Matchlight, and most recently Checkmate to Murder.
For me, this represents the culmination of a long personal journey. Those of you with excellent memories (including Fiona Birchall, who kindly pointed this out the other day) may recall that I spoke about the unpublished manuscript long, long ago. In September 2009, to be exact, I wrote a blog post referring to the leading bookseller James M. Pickard, who had obtained the manuscript. At the time I yearned for the book to be made more widely available, but I didn't know how this could best be done.
A great deal has happened during the past eleven years, and among the many wonderful developments has been the creation of the Crime Classics series. I have been urging the British Library for several years to consider publishing Two-Way Murder, and thanks to James Pickard's generosity we had the chance to study the manuscript some considerable time ago.
But progressing these projects can be complicated and sometimes it all takes much longer than you might expect to bring a plan to fruition. So it has proved with Two-Way Murder. But I'm absolutely delighted that the British Library is going ahead - this seems to me to be a splendid project for our national library to undertake, giving life to a story that never saw the light of day during its author's lifetime, or for more than sixty years since. Truly gratifying.