Friday 23 January 2015

Forgotten Book - The Heirs of Anthony Boucher

As I did last week, I've chosen as my Forgotten Book for today a book about the genre, rather than a novel, as a small tribute to the memory of the late Bob Adey. The Heirs of Anthony Boucher, by Marv Lachman,is, to be honest, really too recent to be called a "forgotten book" (it was published by Poisoned Pen Press ten years ago), but it is a unique book that is little known in the UK, and Bob is mentioned a number of times in the text, so I think it deserves to be highlighted.

The sub-text is "A History of Mystery Fandom", and that's exactly what the book is. There's an introduction by Edward D. Hoch, a wonderful and prolific short story writer, sadly no longer with us, who describes himself proudly as a mystery fan. As he says, Marv is ideally qualified to write such a book, given the breadth of his reading over many years. Ed also makes the point that many readers and writers are unaware of what has gone before in the genre, and that it's valuable to be reminded of, for instance, the history of that great convention Bouchercon.

The book gives a pithy account of the early days of fandom, including such little-known organisations as Patricia Wentworth Fan Club and the Praed Street Irregulars. There is a lot of information about Bouchercon, which began in 1970 and marked the beginning of a new era for mystery enthusiasts, as well as the formation of many long-lasting friendships, a happy tradition that continues to this day. A wide range of mytery magazines are discussed, including CADS and Mystery Scene, which are still flourishing.

I've met Marv a few times at conventions, and he's one of the most knowledgeable of all crime fiction enthusiasts. I've read segments of his latest book, about mystery plays, in Give Me That Old-Time Detection,and he also wrote an excellent book about regional American mysteries. But because of its quirky subject matter, this one is a special favourite of mine, and I commend it to anyone who is curious about the evolution of fan interest in the genre. Marv's love of the genre shines through.

Marv also makes special and gracious, mention of one of our encounters, at the 1995 Nottingham Bouchercon. On that occasion, he, Ed Hoch, Sarah J. Mason and I competed in "Mastermind", and had a great deal of fun in the process. There's even a photo of the occasion in the book. It's slightly surreal to see myself looking twenty years younger. Where did the time go? Well, some of it went in reading good books in and about the genre, and this one is definitely among my favourites.  .


mybillcrider said...

I really enjoyed this book, and not just because my name is mentioned in it. It should be required reading for every mystery fan.

seana graham said...

I went to Bouchercon in Long Beach this year, and I was quite impressed with the importance given to the fans. Plenty of famous authors there, but as Peter Rozovsky told me, it was decided early on not to separate them out by special name tags or anything. After long years as a bookseller, which, whatever your own enthusiasms, is a kind of a professional way of looking at books and reading, it was very refreshing to just be hanging out with people who loved the genre.

Martin Edwards said...

Bill, I couldn't agree more.

Martin Edwards said...

Seana, I'm sorry I missed Long Beach. I did think about it, but couldn't fit it in. Glad you enjoyed it.

seana graham said...

It would have been fun to meet you in person, Martin, but perhaps there will be some future opportunity.

Martin Edwards said...

Absolutely, Seana. I'm aiming for Malice and possibly also Bcon this year.