Welcome to Past Offences. I hope you enjoy what I’m doing here.
Past Offences exists to review classic crime, with ‘classic’ meaning books originally published before 1987.
I try to answer this question about every book I review:
Why should a reader pick up this old book, even seek it out, when they could be reading a more recent one?
This is because I am mainly reading crime novels which have, for whatever reason, stood the test of time. They’re mainly good – but are they better than contemporary books? You deserve to be reading better books, don’t you? Well, I’m trying to help.
Why 1987? It’s the year that James Ellroy’s The Black Dahlia came out in the US. In the UK, the first Rebus novel Knots and Crosses was published (also the first Midsomer Murder, The Killing at Badger’s Drift). So you could see it as a watershed year. Also, it was a handy 25 years ago when I began, which seemed like a good cut-off point.
New editions are fine (DM me @westwoodrich, or I’m westwoodrich on gmail if you want me to review anything). And I will make exceptions:
- TV shows based on books or characters established pre-1987. I might review Sherlock or Father Brown, for example, but not Rebus. That’s not to say I don’t like Rebus – that’s just the rule I’ve set myself.
- Books written before 1987 but only recently published or translated.
- Anthologies containing stories written before 1987.
- Anything else I decide.
For every book, I’ll try to record where I obtained it, and where it’s going next – Green Metropolis, charity shop, staying in my permanent collection, given to a friend…
I’m also interested in hearing what got you into crime fiction.
The place of second-hand bookshops in my scheme of things
It was second-hand bookshops that got me into reading crime novels, so I try to buy second-hand, and from real shops whenever I can. It’s just more enjoyable to pick up a book when browsing. It’s not a religion – I do buy new, and I do buy from Abebooks, Green Metropolis (which I thoroughly recommend) and Amazon, and I’m sure I’ll get a Kindle or something eventually – but second-hand is just my preferred route.
I’m a card-carrying member of Wymondham Library, which really punches above its weight for the size of town I live in. Libraries are great – please don’t forget they exist.