After a month of possibly pie-in-the-sky hoping (hey, a full reprint of someone may be right around the corner, you never know…), let’s finish on a more positive note. This week, stuff that’s actually happening in the future and about which I have many reasons to be hopeful.
Also, yes, I am aware the title of this post is ungrammatical. Blame the professional editor I definitely employ who is responsible for checking this kind of thing.
1. Gallows Court (2018) by Martin Edwards
Current President of the Detection Club Martin Edwards has since publishing his last novel completed two compendious, authoritative, and comprehensive studies of classic era detective fiction with The Golden Age of Murder (2015) and The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Book (2017). So imagine our delight when he spoke about his new novel on our podcast recently, mentioning that it will be set in the 1930s and contain a great many callbacks to the classics he has been studying. And indeed, the synopsis as it currently stands sounds like the perfect opportunity for someone who has curated a huge number of forgotten classics for the British Library while also reading and studying the genre in huge depth to put more than a few touches of their own in an already enticing setup:
Sooty, sulphurous, and malign: no woman should be out on a night like this. A spate of violent deaths – the details too foul to print – has horrified the capital and the smog-bound streets are deserted. But Rachel Savernake – the enigmatic daughter of a notorious hanging judge – is no ordinary woman. To Scotland Yard’s embarrassment, she solved the Chorus Girl Murder, and now she’s on the trail of another killer.
Jacob Flint, a young newspaperman temporarily manning The Clarion‘s crime desk, is looking for the scoop that will make his name. He’s certain there is more to the Miss Savernake’s amateur sleuthing than meets the eye. He’s not the only one. His predecessor on the crime desk was of a similar mind – not that Mr Betts is ever expected to regain consciousness after that unfortunate accident…
Flint’s pursuit of Rachel Savernake will draw him ever-deeper into a labyrinth of deception and corruption. Murder-by-murder, he’ll be swept ever-closer to its dark heart – to that ancient place of execution, where it all began and where it will finally end: Gallows Court.
2. Another Word for Murder (2018) by Anthony Horowitz
I was under the impression we would not be seeing this until 2019, what with Horowitz’s second — and very, very good — James Bond novel Forever and a Day (2018) having been released in May. However, everyone’s favourite workers’ rights-trampling rainforest-named purveyor of everything has a November 2018 publication date listed, and I for one am extremely excited to see how he builds on the author-as-fictional-character conceit he established and used so well in the first book in this series:
William Pryce is an elegant, smooth-tongued lawyer who has made a fortune out of celebrity divorces – and a lot of enemies in the process. Unmarried himself, he lives in a handsome bachelor pad on the edge of Hampstead Heath.
Or rather he used to …
When he is found murdered, the police confront the most baffling of mysteries: who was the visitor who came to Pryce’s house moments before he died, arriving while he was still talking on the phone?
“You shouldn’t be here. It’s too late…” were Pryce’s last recorded words but what exactly do they mean?
Why does his killer paint a three-digit number on the wall before leaving the crime scene? And why exactly was he bludgeoned to death with a bottle of wine – a 1982 Chateau Lafite worth £3,000 – when he didn’t drink alcohol?
The police are forced to hand the case to Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne, who takes it on with characteristic relish.
But Hawthorne himself has secrets to hide and as our reluctant narrator becomes ever more embroiled in the case he realises that these are secrets that need to be exposed – even if it puts his own life in danger…
3. The Blake Harte Mysteries by Robert Innes
Possibly a bit of a cheat, this, since I’ve only read the first two and so the majority of this self-published series — there are eight at present, but Innes writes to damn fast there will probably be a ninth by the time you read this — are available to me if I was willing to just sit down a tear through them. The improvement from Untouchable (2016) to Confessional (2016) augurs well for the (okay, my) future of this series, and I appreciate Innes’ focus on simply writing a story that’s as long as it needs to be and then publishing it, rather than padding it out with an excess of needless detail purely to be able to call it a ‘novel’. His settings and characters are good, he’s shown admirable creativity in using impossible crimes in a manner that feel pleasingly authentic, while also demonstrating some real skill in winding a plot much tighter than it initially appeared. My on-going Adventures in Self-Publishing are all the better for having discovered Innes and his books — he has another series, too, which I’m yet to start — and I am legitimately as excited for these as I am the two preceding titles on this list.
4. The Crime in the Leaning Mansion (1982) by Soji Shimada
If you seek evidence of my power and influence, look no further: a couple of weeks a go I said that we needed more Shimada in English, and almost instantly it was announced that Pushkin Vertigo would be publishing this second Kiyoshi Mitarai novel in 2019. What’s that you say? They’d already planed to release it and I was just lucky in my timing? Ahem, I don’t think so. I speak, and the GAD world trembles. This isn’t GAD, you say? Well…well, no, that’s fine, but it’s part of the hugely influential shinhonkaku movement that’s built on the Western detective story tradition exemplified by GAD…look, okay, obviously I had nothing to do with this, but Ho-Ling makes this sound great, and I’m extremely excited for more Shimada to make it to these shores after the brief couple of tastes we’ve had to date:
Christmas marks the beginning of a series of murders, horrible murders. One guest is found stabbed in a locked room, with no footsteps in the snow leading to his door. And for some reason a human-sized doll, which belongs to Hamamoto, is found lying outside in the garden. Was it the doll that running around on the roof , as one of the guests says she saw in the middle of the night? The police arrives at the scene, but they are not able to prevent a second locked room murder the same night. Everyone has an alibi. Except for the doll. A doll named Golem, who according to the store Hamamoto bought it from, was named after the legendary creature because he too is actually a living doll. As the police is able to do nothing, one man is sent for: Mitarai.
5. Further Locked Room International publications by Various Authors
Yeah, it’s another cheat. I’m on holiday, what do you want from me? Locked Room International is the one publisher about whom I can honestly say that I’ve read every single word they’ve published; John Pugmire’s tireless efforts to bring new, original translations of excellent foreign language impossible crime novels to the English-speaking market — not to mention republishing a handful of hard-to-find classics originally published in English — are wonderful, and have raised awareness of things like the shin honkaku school mentioned above with some of the strongest impossible crime novels I’ve ever read. I understand the next LRI title to be The Man Who Loved Clouds (1999) by Paul Halter — and the image on the front page of the newly-rejigged LRI website would indicate the forthcoming publication of a non-fiction book that will cause a huge amount of excitement among locked room fans — but in all honesty I’m going to buy everything put out under that banner, and I hope it continues for a long time yet.
Anyone else got any forthcoming books they’re excited about? Or news of that Freeman Wills Crofts or John Dickson Carr or Bruce Campbell total reissue we’re all holding out so fervently for…?