From the time I discovered Agatha Christie and detective fiction at the age of eight, I dreamed of becoming a detective writer myself, but I had no idea what it would be like. I knew nothing of the writing life and I had no contact with writers of any kind that I can recall until, as a student, I attended talks given by a range of well-known authors such as Kingsley Amis, John Braine, Brian Aldiss, and Angus Wilson, whose worlds seemed totally remote from mine and to be honest, not entirely appealing. Later, when I met crime writers, I began to understand a little of the downs, as well as the ups, of the writing life.
One thing I learned then was that those 'ups' don't come along every day - far from it. So it makes sense to celebrate them when they do crop up. And the last couple of weeks really have felt like 'living the dream', with in-person and virtual events and radio interviews, and above all in terms of reviewer reaction to both The Life of Crime and Blackstone Fell.
Within the last fortnight, I've had a review in the New York Times and two, on successive Saturdays, in The Times - for Blackstone Fell and The Life of Crime respectively. Incredible - a once in a lifetime experience! Mark Sanderson was very generous about my novel (and he's been kind about the earlier books two, so although I've never met him, if I ever do cross his path, I definitely need to buy him a drink!)
Just this Saturday, Christina Hardyment's review of the 'audiobook of the week' described The Life of Crime as 'pacey and immersive' and as an 'inclusive cornucopia' and also contains a wonderful sentence: 'Martin Edwards is the closest thing there has been to a philosopher of crime writing.' Wow! So Christina too has made me very happy.
And then there's someone else, I've never met, the American film historian David Bordwell, who has just published a wonderful essay about the book on 'Observations on Film Art' which concludes: 'The Life of Crime is, then, a book in four dimensions: reference volume, historical survey, armory of literary techniques, and biographical accounts of major artists. To succeed with any one of these is remarkable; to succeed with all of them is something of a miracle. It will remain an indispensable guide to its subject.’
Finally, the blog tour for Blackstone Fell has just concluded. I'm enormously grateful to everyone who has taken the time and trouble to feature the book. I'm very pleased that there's a strong consensus, for instance, that you can read Blackstone Fell without having first read the earlier Rachel Savernake books. I'm also delighted that so many people have enjoyed the writing and characterisation - as well as the intricacy of the puzzles and the Cluefinder! In light of the comments, although I hadn't planned to include a Cluefinder in my next book about Rachel, I may be tempted to reconsider and see if it's do-able. And I'm going to compile a precis of the reviews before long, simply to reassure myself that I haven't actually dreamed it all...