The all-conquering success of his massively enjoyable Golden Age of Murder must have created a problem for the writer Martin Edwards (currently chair of the Crime Writers Association): how to follow a book which appeared to write the last word on a great era of crime fiction? Well, the multi-talented Edwards (who is no mean practitioner of the crime novel himself) has produced another volume which will be catnip to admirers of the genre – not to mention a shopping list of novels which is going to have aficionados repeatedly reaching into their pockets. The approach in The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books is to take books which (in Edwards’ view) illuminate and epitomise the field. And as added value, Edwards sets his choices within pithily written introductions to the variety of areas in which the books operate (e.g., the justice system and ‘Murder at the Manor’). While most of the classic novels and writers one might expect are here, the real pleasure lies in the eclectic choice of books discussed. Now forgotten names abound, and Edwards’ enthusiasm always communicates itself (though it never slips into unqualified encomiums — he is quick to point out when certain writers’ social attitudes would not work in modern crime fiction – though, as he says, we are given inter alia key insight into these eras). If you have the slightest interest in the British golden age of crime fiction, The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books is an essential purchase.

The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books by Martin Edwards is published by the British Library 9780712356961.

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