Eric Ambler: A Literary Biography Peter Lewis

This very welcome study arrives with an encomium from Booklist describing it as ‘a literate, considerate inspection’ of the writer Eric Ambler, and there is absolutely no question that Lewis has done considerable service to the man who was unquestionably the father of the modern British espionage thriller. When this writer penned a newspaper review of one of Ambler’s last books, his publisher told me dolefully that my review had been used to explain to young booksellers who Ambler was — he had, I seemed, dropped off the radar. And there is no question that the contemporary spy novel would not have taken the course it has if not for Ambler’s remarkable series of books (which, as Lewis points out, The Mask of Dimitrios is the best known). But any readers who might need their memory refreshing — or for that matter need an introduction to the novelist — need only pick up this assiduously detailed study by the Edgar Allan Poe-award winning Peter Lewis. Speaking personally, this study will now be a necessary adjunct to do every Ambler novel I read again from now on.

Crime Scene: Britain and Ireland John Martin

If you want proof of my amazing generosity (if you ever doubted it): here it comes: John Martin’s assiduously researched and satisfyingly detailed Crime Scene: Britain and Ireland is a very useful addition to any crime aficionado’s bookshelf, with copious insights into a wide variety of UK writers. His enthusiasm and scholarship shine from every page. Now – you might ask: why was the above generous? Because Mr Martin (to my chagrin) has stolen a march on me: I’m in the process of writing a book (to be published in 2016 ) which will be called Brit Noir, covering much of the same territory as this study. I’m hoping mine will be a very different book from this one, but Mr Martin has set the bar rather high. Damn.

Mystery in White J Jefferson Farjeon Murder in Piccadilly Charles Kingston

One of the most welcome publishing initiatives in recent years has been the British Library Crime Classics series which — apart from being beautifully presented — brings back into print some truly beguiling items from the past. Dated? Well… yes, but that’s undoubtedly a part of their charm, and both of the titles mentioned above contain some of the most distinctive writing from the golden age of British crime fiction between the two world wars. Of the two, Farjeon maybe the author most ripe for rediscovery; his work was acclaimed by no less than Dorothy Sayers, and his play Number 17 is now best remembered as one of Alfred Hitchcock’s liveliest British films.


Mystery in White by J Jefferson Farjeon & Murder in Piccadilly by Charles Kingston are published by British Library Press

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