The revival of E.C.R. Lorac's reputation as a detective novelist during the past few years has given me a great deal of pleasure. As I've said in the past, I was introduced to her work by my parents, and I often think that they'd be amused and gratified to see that a writer they both enjoyed has found an extensive new readership in the twenty-first century, not only in the UK but also in the US.
Death of an Author was one of her early books, written before she moved up to Lunesdale. It was the last novel of hers published by Sampson Low before she was taken on by Collins Crime Club. An unusual feature of the novel is that Inspector Macdonald doesn't appear. Here she introduces us to a likeable pair of cops called Warner and Bond.
The early chapters are absolutely excellent. We meet a publisher called Marriott and one of his top authors, a man called Ashe. The conversation turns to a bestseller by a mysterious author called Vivian Lestrange. Ashe is fascinated by book and author and persuades Marriott to arrange a dinner at which he can meet the reclusive writer. But then he is thunderstruck to be introduced to an attractive young woman...
It's difficult to discuss this book without giving too many spoilers. Suffice to say that we are given a fascinating picture of the literary world as well as an intriguing and unorthodox mystery. I really enjoyed it and I'm pleased to say that the British Library are also keen. This is a book that is extremely rare, but it won't be for long. Next year, all being well, it will appear as a Crime Classic.