#86: Where has all the classic detective fiction gone…?

Unavailable classics

If you’re anything like me, well, firstly my condolences, but also you have a list of books not printed any time in the last few decades that you spend hours scouring secondhand bookshops, book fairs, online auction sites, and other people’s houses in the hope of finding.  A lot of them – in my case, say, The Stingaree Murders by W. Shepard Pleasants – are rather obscure and so their lack of availability is understandable, but in other cases it just seems…baffling.

Let us take, inevitably, the case of John Dickson Carr.  Here in the UK, the superb crime fiction publisher Orion has kept The Hollow Man in print for a long time, and through its classic detective fiction-dedicated digital arm The Murder Room – sadly no longer with us – they published another 14 of his books from 1934’s The Blind Barber to Deadly Hall from 1971.  That’s 15 books.  Out of the 80 Carr published.  In addition to this, the Rue Morgue Press – sadly no longer with us – published another five of his books, and The Langtail Press – sadly no longer with us – five more.  The Mysterious Press also recently put out a copy of The Devil in Velvet (and should probably be watching their backs, it seems).  So 54 (fifty-four!) Carr novels have not been reprinted recently enough to be easily available.

And my entirely reasonable question is, why not?  I can’t believe any of these publishers would have balked at putting out more Carr – look at the great work The Murder Room did virtually reprinting Helen McCloy and Erle Stanley Gardner – yet the overwhelming majority of his books haven’t seen the light of day for many years.  So, presumably, someone somewhere is sitting on the rights to the novels of the finest writer of detective fiction ever and simply doesn’t want to see them in print, selling, and making them back some money.

Hopefully you see this as more than simply me stamping my foot and wanting the thing that I want – publishers have expressed an interest, some books have been put out…but only some.  Yes, the audience for this kind of thing isn’t the biggest, but with the rise of digital publishing we’ve seen dedicated publishers like Ipso Books and Dean Street Press bring back obscure and unheralded authors from the classic era, and – meaning no offence – I can’t believe more people were baying for Harriet Rutland reprints than are for Carr (but, hey, maybe I’m wrong…).  There’s a list of classic authors whose publication would, I’m convinced, cause joy untold – Pierre Boileau, Christianna Brand, the last three Sergeant Beef novels of Leo Bruce, Ellery Queen,  Clayton Rawson…well, I won’t go on – given the patchy nature of their current availability.

The only people who seem to benefit from this is the hilariously self-deluded secondhand book market (anyone with £852.22 to spare can snap up a copy of Christianna Brand’s Death of Jezebel here – with the added carrot of free postage) but I can’t believe there’s some kind of Illuminati-esque conspiracy to keep the classic detective fiction writers out of print purely for their benefit.  Everyone else is losing out, then, and the few publishing houses willing to stick their heads above the parapet seem to be falling like dominoes (I apologise for the mixed metaphor) – almost like the family curse beloved of so many classic crime novels.  Oooo, did crime publishing just get meta?

My point?  I dunno.  The complexities of book rights are probably a many-headed Cerberus-cum-Hydra and I’m displaying my naivety, but can anyone offer a perspective on this that I’m missing?  I love classic detective fiction and I want others to love it, but if they can’t find the books in the first place they’re never going to get the chance.  The British Library Crime Classics series has done a massively brilliant job of bringing back obscure authors and proving the existence of an audience for this kind of thing, so who do we need to pester?  What can we do?  Get a Kickstarter going, crowd-source a wave of classic crime fiction?

Or, y’know, what am I missing?

53 thoughts on “#86: Where has all the classic detective fiction gone…?

  1. I feel your pain JJ as Carr is, and always shall remain, my favourite Golden Age detective story writer (as I never, ever tire of repeating), It is a shame that when they were reprinted on paper the costs were rather high too

    Liked by 1 person

    • I could take the high cost in most cases, especially given how much a labour of obvious love the Rue Morgue editions were, but why weren’t more made available? Can we find out who has the rights and hassle them to actually release the books?


  2. Three posts in one week?! Your non-Wednesday posts are always a nice surprise. I wonder whether copy right is a stumbling block for Carr because as you say it seems unusual why more of his work hasn’t been published. To be honest I think the place to live is a reasonably sized American library as I seem to have accumulated many American ex-library copies of mystery books. In regards to Pierre Boileau Pushkin Press have reprinted his works Vertigo and She Was No More. They may well reprint more in the coming months.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m always surprised when I post something, Kate, even on a Wednesday! And your point about copyright is exactly what I’m getting at – who holds it? And why are only a few books being released? Surely there’s an estate, and where’s the sense in not allowing the books to be published since money can clearly be made from them? Gah!

      And, yeah, the Pushkin editions of Boileau-Narcejac were what I had in mind…but even Pushkin appeared to have scaled back somewhat following that first flurry…have they died a death as well?!


  3. Over 3 months ago I ordered a copy of JDC’s The Plague Court Murders, and then I kept waiting for it to arrive and kept waiting and waiting. Weeks later I got a message saying that it will take some time since the book has to be reprinted by the publisher. OK, fine, I had enough other books to read, so it wasn’t some sort of emergency. Yet the book just wouldn’t arrive in the mail. Then a few days ago I get another message saying that my order has been cancelled since the book is out of print, or to be precise: the publisher is in the process of preparing a new edition of it (which I guess won’t come out till 2050 or something). Well, there you have it: If it’s so difficult to get hold of a fresh copy of a Carr-novel then I’m not particularly surprised that his fans are a bit frustrated.

    But I don’t want to complain too much, since here in Germany a lot of the scarcer mystery novels are available in cheap paperback editions and Boileau-Narcejac’s work for example has been reprinted quite often and can be purchased for cheap.

    The subject of book rights can be quite puzzling sometimes, I mean Joephine Tey’s whole body of work is already in public domain while to my knowledge none of Carr’s books are.


    • The subject of book rights can be quite puzzling sometimes, I mean Joephine Tey’s whole body of work is already in public domain while to my knowledge none of Carr’s books are.

      It’s beyond puzzling. It’s bizarre. Perhaps one of the problems is that negotiating all the tricks and traps of copyright law is just too much for some small publishers. If they reissue a book and it turns out there’s a legal problem with it and they have to withdraw it the costs could be crippling.

      Liked by 1 person

      • There is that; I’m aware of one small publisher who had an issue with international rights over a book they were trying to put out in the last few years. But surely that’s only a part of it…surely there’s a solution to this logjam that’s preventing so many classics seeing the light of day.


    • Publisher’s choosing to reissue something makes perfect sense in a way – new covers to attract new interest, etc. What baffles me is how so many of these books simply haven’t been reprinted in such a long time. But, hey, at least you have access to some of the classics…I’m actually quite envious!

      And are Tey’s books in the public domain? I was under the impression she bequeathed them to The National Trust…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. There’s been some discussion on some of the science fiction blogs I read about the sorry state of the publishing industry today. It seems there’s really not as much money in it as one might imagine. Despite all the hype ebooks have not really been a boon to anyone. All they’ve done is to fragment a shrinking market.

    Many of the problems seem to be due to poor decisions by the publishing industry itself, especially the overpricing of ebooks. But there’s also the undoubted problem that books are now a very very tiny part of the market for what might be called the leisure dollar. Most people spend their leisure time on facebook or whatever the fashionable social networking site is this week. They just don’t read books.

    And while the reprints of vintage crime titles are very very welcome they can be a bit pricey. It would be nice to see a few omnibus editions. Coachwhip have issued a few editions containing two or more novels and they’re a terrific idea.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You make a good point, I forget that on the whole books sales aren’t quite the cash-in I’d like them to be! Neverheless, the rights-holders must surely be turning down the opportunity to have these books published or charging exorbitant fees for the rights, and in either case they’re guaranteed no money over even a small amount made from allowing the books to the published.


      • I get the impression that some of the rights-holders are hopelessly unrealistic in their expectations. They expect to make a fortune and won’t authorise reprints unless they’re offered silly amounts of money. Because the Agatha Christie estate is a licence to print money they think they should be making the same sort of money.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. It is a shame if the murder room is going for good, but heartening to see they’ve not finished yet- next month they seem to be reprinting the back catalogue of henry wade

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well this is very exciting – they appear to be publishing Heir Presumptive, Constable Guard Theyself and many more besides. Goddamn, this is what I’m talking about!


      • Heir Presumptive is very very good. To hint at what makes it so interesting would be to risk spoilers so I won’t.


  6. “DforDoom” is a prescient handle here, and I sadly agree. As a teacher, I see almost nobody reading for pleasure these days, and it terrifies me. Our school library has become a riotous holding cell for students without a class. At my local library, the little kids run around screaming and, in order to make the building seem more of a kid-friendly place, it’s allowed. Yesterday, I was in another library near closing time, and I saw a father guiding his young son out the door. The boy was clutching two heavy volumes of fantasy. I could see by the way he held and looked at the books that he couldn’t wait to get home and tear them open. It reminded me of . . . myself. I nearly cried.

    Some people still do read, of course, and the local Barnes and Noble has a healthy mystery section, but the options on classic writers are few. There are a million cozies on the shelves (The Waffle Maker Murders, anyone?), but I recently read that even these are about to suffer a publishing cut. Kate’s recent post about the international scene reminds us of The low esteem in which genre fiction is held, so while my mother’s book club struggles to get through Jonathan Franzen’s new book, nobody would suggest that they read a Carr or Brand novel. Heck, I can’t seem to find even a small group of real live people in the whole Bay Area who like GAD so that I can actually look into someone’s eyes and talk with them about this literature I love.

    There! I said it! I, too, am a lonely fan, and the publishers don’t give a damn. The real crime is how companies like The Murder Room are going under, since it should be a snap to put out cheap e-book editions at the very least of every Carr novel. Of course, it all boils down to the almighty buck (what is the British equivalent for “buck”?)

    Meanwhile, I’m sure Doug Greene might know more about Carr, and Curt Evans or Martin Greene can illuminate some of the mystery surrounding publishing choices. They ARE working their tails off to get more old titles available. But unearthing forgotten authors like Rutland or Annie Haynes doesn’t help explain why someone as prolific and once-successful as Carr or Queen is ignored.

    In the meantime, JJ, you can fly over to the States, ensconce yourself on my little sofa and pore over my copy of Death if Jezebel. I’ll fix some tea and sit there, watching you read with tears in my eyes. It won’t be weird at all.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Haha, thankfully for us both I tracked down DoJ earlier this year for a not-unreasonable price. Still, interesting to reflect that it would be cheaper to get a return flight to your neck of the woods and read your copy than to buy that one I linked to above…something seriously wrong there.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I can’t seem to find even a small group of real live people in the whole Bay Area who like GAD so that I can actually look into someone’s eyes and talk with them about this literature I love.

      I don’t know a single person in real life who likes the books that I like. Or likes the old movies that I love.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Where do you live, DfD? I’m coming over!

        I do get a little tired of ALWAYS being in the minority over preference! Why can’t I like Michael Bay instead of Alfred Hitchcock? I remember when everyone was reading The Da Vinci Code, so I finally got a copy. I struggled to finish that book, yet people literally stopped their cars or turned to me in restaurants to acknowledge the joy I must be experiencing. It was a rare collective experience over a book, and I found myself pretending I was enjoying the book just to feel like I belonged!

        I know there’s some horrible message here, and I’m happy to read different kinds of books and see all sorts of movies (although I’ve never watched the film of The Da Vinci Code!), but I can’t help wondering if there’s just a couple hundred of us GAD lovers scattered around the world, fighting extinction? Yikes! That’s a depressing thought! Maybe there are lots more, but we’re the noisy ones.

        Liked by 1 person

        • but I can’t help wondering if there’s just a couple hundred of us GAD lovers scattered around the world, fighting extinction?

          That’s a thought that has occurred to me as well. I’m marginally more optimistic. I think there may be a couple of thousand of us scattered across the globe. That’s a couple of thousand out of 7 billion people on the planet.

          I’d guess that the number of old movie fans is slightly higher, although whenever I come across someone who claims to love old movies it always turns out that their idea of an old movie is one made in the late 1980s!

          I suspect the same might apply to crime fiction. You might find the very occasional person who claims to love the old stuff but you’ll find out that their concept of vintage crime is P. D. James.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Between the two of you you’ve managed to hit on the feeling that’s been slowly creeping over me for the last couple of years, namely: Wow, there really aren’t that many people who give a damn about this stuff, are there? This has in part led to this blog, as an attempt to find other like-minded types who know about and share in this steadily-accumluated obsession of mine.

            But, y’know, there are signs of hope: Martin Edwards, as President of the CWA, is doing a great job editing the BL crime classics, and they’ve received a fair amount of press both in the UK and the US…and the first steps in getting people to love this kind of thing is making it available and then making them aware of its availability. I retain hope that the rise of Japanese authors such as Keigo Higashino over here, too, will lead to an increased awareness of, say, Locked Room International’s The Decagon House Murders and forthcoming Moai Island Puzzle…and from there onto more puzzle plots in general. It’s a slim chance, I know, but you never know.

            I also think GAD has a really superb set of bloggers on its side – TomCat, Sergio, Rich Westwood, Puzzle Doctor, Kate Jackson, Noah Stewart, John Norris, Curtis Evans, Bev Hankin, Ho-Ling Wong, Les Blatt, Guy Savage, Martin Edwards again, the two of you (I’m missing out some people, I know…please forgive me!) – and so when the casual reader wants to find something out they’re being directed to a site where there’s a lot of enthusiasm, knowledge, insight, and community. Posts and conversations like this will hopefully make people realise just how much enthusiasm there is for this kind of thing and, you’re right, we just need to keep plugging away and grow the market any way we can.

            I think people can see there isn’t some cynical intent behind this…we just love this stuff and want others to be able to share in it. That’ll count for a lot in the long run, I’m sure.

            Liked by 1 person

            • I wasn’t really much of a GAD enthusiast, actually until a few years ago I wasn’t even aware that this term exists. I always loved reading Christie and Doyle, but didn’t know much about other mystery writers. I think for me it started when I picked up some old mysteries at a flea market, most of the authors were unknown to me, so out of curiosity I wanted to find out more about them.

              It is thanks to blogs like this that I learned more about GAD, so thanks, guys!

              I’m quite optimistic about the return of classic detective fiction. I think it helps that some of the new stuff that gets published harks back to the classic template.

              Adrian McKinty has written two novels with impossible mysteries which are clearly meant as a homage to classic detective fiction. And they work both as hardboiled novels and classic whodunits.

              Oscar De Muriels “The Strings Of Murder” is an obvious homage to JDC.

              Rob Reef’s “Stableford On Golf” is a love letter to GAD.

              And there is a lot more, maybe not all that well-known or succesful, sometimes maybe not even particularly good, but these are authors who know about the classics and try to update the Golden Age Detective story to modern times.

              So, if only some of these novels would become bestsellers, people would say: “Oh, this was so delightul! Where can I get more of this stuff?” And they would check out the classics.

              Liked by 1 person

        • I tried watching the film of The DaVinci Code, but kept getting distracted wondering where the Oscar nomination was for Tom Hanks’ hairpiece. That aside, you didn’t miss much.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. I do agree with all that’s said here and it’s blogs like this that reassure me that as a GAD fan I’m not alone! I think one approach would be to do as the indie publishers do; put them out as ebooks; give away the odd freebie to hook readers in; charge a low price for the rest. The margins would be lower but then, with ebooks the production costs are lower too. If publishers like Dean Street Press and Black Heath can do it, why not the rest? I read mostly now on my beloved Kindle and, as a Christie/Marsh fan, I would love to have their novels on my Kindle purely for the convenience of the thing. But the ebook versions are just too expensive; and, having bought them all once already, I don’t feel like paying out a lot of money for the electronic texts. I buy a lot of editions from Dean Street Press etc. and they have introduced me to many authors I knew nothing about before; but if the ebooks had been too expensive I doubt whether I would have taken a chance on them.

    Liked by 3 people

    • DSP, to their immense credit, have got the whole ebook thing down very well – great introductions from Curtis Evans, clearly a lot of care going into the proiduction, and then available at almost insanely low prices…my only gripe is that the ragged right edge on their formatting gives me a headache. Justify, people, justify!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m grateful for the ones that have made it to the e-market. It would seem that there’s a huge market out there if someone took on the monumental task of checking copyright and bringing these lost novels back.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I’m almost tempted to do a post in response to this one. I think there are a number of issues in play here. Let’s suppose someone wanted to publish the Carr back catalogue.

    First off, the rights seem to be all over the place. The Murder Room had some, but they didn’t have access to others – presumably those that are sold as ebook or print on demand only (Langtail Press, I think). But there is at least one other tranche of titles that neither publisher seems to have had the rights too. So there’s at least one other person to deal with. And The Hollow Man has had a standalone re-release so it’s probably another one there.

    Next – suppose you gained the rights to, say, all of the Gideon Fell books. How do you re-publish them? Ebook only? Print copies? Do you release all of them? In order? Best ones first? All credit to Dean St Press for their approach with, for example, the Punshon tales, but I wonder how many people have bought Bobby Owens book 17. If you start the Fell series from book one, you’ve got some real clunkers to get through early on… And with so many alternative books out there, the reader-in-the-street will look elsewhere. And if you only publish the best ones, then that’s going to annoy the people who actually want to read them – i.e. us. Factor in the possibility that some rights-holders will expect royalties from each sale – possibly a flat fee, not a percentage of the sale price – and it would take a brave man to expect to make a profit from Dark Of The Moon or Death-Watch. But for completists (like us) not releasing the entirety of the series would be dreadful.

    To get the sales necessary, you have to catch the market as well. The British Library were lucky, I think, when Mystery In White caught the eye of Christmas shoppers a couple of years ago. But they still stick to a one-book-a-month schedule as, I guess, the demand isn’t there for many more. And I wonder if all of their titles have equal sales – I’m guessing the short story collections do better, as they seem to be making more of them recently. I’d love to think my reviews (and those of my fellow bloggers) of Dean St Press titles are boosting their sales, but…

    And the end of the day, publishing is a business and I can see so many problems that would scare away potential publishers of Golden Age material. I’d truly love it to not to be the case – I’d love for my readers to be able to read the John Rhode books that I’m currently reviewing – but I think we just need to be thankful for what we’ve got, hope for more publishers who will take the risk, hope for more rights-holders to be generous with them, and in the meantime, keep an eye on eBay and Abebooks for those affordable treats that nobody else has noticed (cough, first edition The Venner Crime by Rhode for £1.50, cough).

    Liked by 1 person

    • You raise some excellent points, Doc, thanks for taking the time to think it through so clearly. You’re spot on about the later Punshons, and I suppose in that regard the one benefit of the Fells and the Merrivales is that they don’t really chart the ‘career’ of those characters in quite the same way – I’ve read them in an order that would baffle even the most scientific of minds and feel no particular loss of continuity.

      I suppose this all remains moot until we have an idea of how rights are held and dished out: surely there must be someone responsible for an author’s estate, and that person must have some reason for certain books not being made available (to The Murder Room in this case, let’s say). The advantage of epublishing is that your costs effectively stop once the file exists and is donwloaded again and again, so I’d have thought that would be incitement enough for Orion to pick up more Carr…but that didn’t happen (and the books they have published aren’t exactly the cream of the remaining tranche when you take Langtail and Rue Morgue out of consideration…extremely grateful for the ones we got though I am).

      The same thing happened with Anthony Boucher – The Murder Room published both his H.H. Holmes Sister Ursula novels and the Fergus O’Breen books The Seven of Calvary and the Case of the Crumpled Knave, but not The Case of the Solid Key…why not? It’s one book, how much difference can that make? Surely there’s something funny going on with the rights there, and therefore it’s likely in other cases. How is this happening? As a reader, I find it very, very irritating, and I’m clearly not alone!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I met Julia Silk, the then-head of the Murder Room, at the Bodies From The Library last year and we had a long chat – iirc, she said that the JDC rights were a minefield, belonging to a number of different people and they’d got their hands on all that were available. Can’t recall the exact problem, but she acknowledged that they didn’t really have any of the great books.

        I think (and I’m guessing here) that the rights don’t necessarily belong to the estate – they might own some titles but I imagine that others might belong to the publishers or people that the author gave them to.

        And there’s always the problem of estates who just, apparently, aren’t very interested – that seems to be the issue with Rhode/Burton. Although I still don’t understand why the British Library published the fine-but-not-great Death In The Tunnel with so many better titles out there…


        • I guess we’ll just have to wait until they are in the public domain in the UK/US. By which time, of course, the entire publishing landscape will have changed. Sigh…


        • And people wonder why publishing is in crisis! Seems to be a perfect storm of a platform that can get books to a huge number of people very easily crossed with distinct disinterest in enabling the to happen.

          Some research is clearly needed.


    • If it’s any consolation the problem is not confined to detective fiction. It applies equally to the science fiction, the thrillers, the adventure fiction, in fact all the genre fiction of the interwar years. Only a very small proportion is readily available. It’s the same story – publishing these stories would be economically risky and legally risky. There’s a market, but no-one is quite sure if it’s big enough to be financially viable.


      • Yeah, I have no doubt it’s a multi-genre issue – and it’s made especially ridiculous by affecting the books put out in possibly the most inventive and interesting phase of these different undertakings. The more you look at it, the stupider it becomes!


  10. One other thing to bear in mind about the risk of joining the publishing game – unless you can find a way of significantly increasing the number of people who want to buy GA crime, the more books published will just decrease everyone’s sales – there are only so many titles that even obsessives like us can read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha, you’re right, of course – this is getting complicated, isn’t it?! Wonder if there’s a case that the existence of the secondhand market shows there is a readerhsip out there… Of course, the secondhand market is often cash-led and doesn’t necessarily keep track of the books it’s selling, but given the number of secondhand books I’ve bought in the last few years alone I’d say there’d be a market there for them as new books. But, yeah, proving that is another matter.


    • unless you can find a way of significantly increasing the number of people who want to buy GA crime

      And that’s going to be quite a challenge. One way would be if someone could persuade British television to give up its slavish devotion to Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie and start being a bit more adventurous in bringing vintage crime to the small screen. TV tie-ins always equal book sales.

      Another way would be if the mainstream media suddenly started to take notice of the small-scale revival in interest in GA crime that is already happening. The problem with that is that any attention it draws from the mainstream media is likely to be negative if not downright hostile. They’d be more likely to call for GA crime to be banned!

      The only viable way seems to be to keep plugging away on the blogosphere and aim to grow the market slowly.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. I thought I had to pay a slightly exorbitant price for my copy of ‘Death of Jezebel’ – but the current price of over £800 is making me feel somewhat relieved… My caveat regarding The Murder Room’s catalogue of John Dickson Carr novels is that the selection does not contain the titles I really want…

    I’m currently reading ‘Death Watch’, based on your recommendation. 🙂


    • In fairness to The Murder Room, still some excellent books in there: The Man Who Could Not Shudder, The Four False Weapons, and, yes, Death-Watch…have heard good things about Most Secret, Scandal at HIgh Chimneys and Deadly Hall, too. Given that I think we’d all love to see everything Carr published so readily available, it stands to reason someone has to publish the less-heralded ones!


      • Yes, I purchased ‘Man Who Could Not Shudder’ and ‘Four False Weapons’ through my Kindle, and had little else I could get as I already possessed ‘Death Watch’ and ‘Emperor’s Snuff Box’ in hard copy. Perhaps one of my greatest regrets was that I missed out on purchasing a cheap copy of ‘Death in Five Boxes’ in a second-had bookshop. 😦

        I’ve just finished ‘Death Watch’, which I enjoyed; I think I’m getting used to Fell’s wheezing/ roaring. I’m surprised that most reviewers don’t seem to respond too favourably towards this title.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Delighted you enjoiyed Death-Watch, it’s a much-maligned highlight of Carr’s early career (in fact, I enjoyed it so much I own three different versions!). And I’m also pleased to hear that you’re adapting to Fell’s obstreperous ways – he’s a fairly unchanging anchor, so ability to get around his confrontational, irascible, irritable front is rather key to getting the best out of Carr. Hooray all round!

          Death in Five Boxes, incidentally, may well be my next Carr review, coming the the next couple of weeks…


  12. A very interesting post, and equally interesting comments. Yes, copyright issues do sometimes complicate matters massively. And yes, it’s a shame that one or two imprints have disappeared lately. Overall, though, it seems to me that the position is immeasurably better than it was three or four years ago. And don’t forget the Harper Collins Detection Club and Francis Durbridge reprints, and their Detective Story LIbrary imprint reissues.

    Liked by 2 people

    • No doubt things have improved, you’re right, but I guess the concern is that as imprints go under and we’re not only losing some of the classics – Rue Morgue, for instance, seemed to be slowly bringing Kelley Roos back, and now that’s stopped after just four books – but we’re also still no closer to authors like Carr, Rawson, Brand, etc seeing the light of day again.

      I guess there’s just so much GAD waiting to be rediscovered/reprinted that someone is always going to be impatiently awaiting their particular fascination. And clearly the readers commenting here feel this frustration, so it’s a shame that so much of it is simply down to awkward rights issues. But, hey, what can we do? I’m half-tempted to try and acquire the rights to something myself just to see how difficult it is…!

      Liked by 1 person

    • it seems to me that the position is immeasurably better than it was three or four years ago.

      I think the situation at the moment is close to ideal. If we can grow the market just a little bit more it would be brilliant. However I wouldn’t want to see the revival go too much further. At the moment we’re small enough to fly under the radar. We’re not important enough to bother with. I have nightmares that The Guardian will notice our existence. If that happens we’re finished – just about every page of the average GA detective novel contains something that a Guardian journalist would consider offensive.

      It’s instructive to look at the science fiction/fantasy community where writers from this era like Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard have very large followings, and to see the hysteria and the venom of the attacks directed against anyone who dares to admit to reading such authors. It’s one of the factors responsible for the current civil war in science fiction. I fear the same situation could arise in crime fiction.

      Liked by 1 person

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