Friday 5 May 2023

Forgotten Book - Obelists at Sea

A forgotten book with a difference today, since this week sees a new edition of C. Daly King's Obelists at Sea, published by Otto Penzler's Mysterious Press in its American Mystery Classics series, and with an introduction by me. I'm very glad to say that it's already received a coveted starred review in Booklist.

The review said: '"Ingenious … A satisfyingly complex solution to both crimes; sometimes brilliant and sometimes hilarious applications from psychology; and a 'clue-finder' at mystery’s end―all of this makes for a delightful Golden Age return. With an engrossing introduction by novelist-critic Martin Edwards, who also edits the British Library’s Crime Classics series.' A really good start!

I've always enjoyed Daly King's flights of literary fancy. His writing is sometimes flawed, often a guilty pleasure, always 'different'. I first read this novel many moons ago and before I reread it for the purposes of writing the intro, I thought it the weakest of the three 'Obelist' novels. This was a good example of a situation where I enjoyed the story more the second time around, partly perhaps because my expectations were different.

My writing is very different from Daly King's, but there are occasional nods to him in my Rachel Savernake novels, especially in my use of Clue Finders, a device which he did not invent but of which he demonstrated true mastery. His books are sometimes a bit crazy, generally a lot of fun, and this is a commission from Otto which gave me a great deal of pleasure.


Anonymous said...

C. Daly King deserves a wider readership.
I'm happy Obelists at Sea is back in print. Wish, though, that instead of that title, either Obelists en Route or Careless Corpse could have been reprinted. For those two have still never been published in the United States.

-- Arthur VIdro

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Arthur. Fingers crossed that those two are also reprinted by someone in due course!