This summer I undertook an interesting project, commissioned by Otto Penzler of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York City. For the past few years, Otto has been publishing a series of limited edition stories which are 'Bibliomysteries' - concerned, in one way or another, with the world of books. A number of wonderful authors - the likes of Ian Rankin, Denise Mina, R. L. Stine, Jeffrey Deaver, Megan Abbott, and Joyce Carol Oates - have featured in the series, so I was flattered to be invited to join them. And as luck would have it, within hours of Otto putting the proposal to me, an idea flitted into my head...
The stories are short, but not very short. The requirement is that they must be at least 10,000 words long and to do with books, but otherwise, the author has free rein. This is liberating. I was conscious that I'd never written a story of this length - almost a novella, you might say - and so here was another interesting challenge. I realised that the story would need to be different from a conventional short story as well as from a novel. The story concept needed to have enough meat in it to justify the length. Luckily, the idea that had sprung to mind fitted the bill.
Otto sent me some illustrative examples of stories in the series, including an Edgar winner from John Connolly and Andrew Taylor's The Long Sonata of the Dead, which supplies a pleasing coda to his wonderful Roth Trilogy. The idea of the series is that they are only available from Otto's bookshop, and that there are limited signed editions as well as paperbacks. The pressure, of course, is to write something good enough to stand in such company...
The result of my labours was The Traitor. This introduces a new character, the 'book detective' Benny Morgan. When lockdown came to an end, my first trips included visits to Llandudno and Shropshire, and both settings feature in the story. It's a mystery concerned with obsessive book-collecting and I really did enjoy writing it. Publication is in September and further details may be found here
Ordered, of course. How could an avid collector not need this?
Thanks, Maxim! I'll be interested to hear what you make of it - a bit different from my other writing, I'd say
Martin, I’ve got the first 30 stories written as Bibliomysteries contained in two anthologies titled unsurprisingly as Bibliomysteries and Bibliomysteries Volume 2. There are some great stories by great authors. I look forward to reading your entry in the series.
As an aside may I thank you for your wonderful work as consultant and editor with the British Library Crime Classics series. I have all but two of the books released so far.
I much appreciate those kind remarks, David. I've enjoyed the Bibliomysteries in the series that I've read. And I'm glad you're enjoying the Classics. Many more good titles on the way!
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