This is a continuation of my occasional series on books about crime fiction. Last time I covered Murder in Print by Melvyn Barnes.
This time I’m looking at Detective Fiction The Collector’s Guide, a book which dates to a period of my life when I fancied myself as a collector of valuable first editions and rare copies of crime classics.
Aside from adding the occasional book to my shelf of rather too many editions of Margery Allingham’s The Tiger in the Smoke, I’ve pretty much abandoned that ambition in the face of restricted storage space and spending money.
It presents short biographies and longer bibliographies of 157 crime novelists. There’s no denying it’s a nerdy book:
All Dexter’s books were first published in London by Macmillan and are dated. Colours of cloth and spine lettering vary from title to title. In the first edition of The Wench is Dead, the date on the headstone on page 38 is incorrect. In the second edition it was changed from ‘June 14 1859’ to ‘June 21 1859’…
But there is always a certain charm in listening to experts, and the authors come across as self-assured and endlessly fascinated by their subject. They, like me, love a good pictorial cover and are quick to censure publishers who opted for covers of ‘the modern photographic type’. There’s a beautiful 12-page colour section in the middle of the book showing off dozens of dust jackets.
There are a couple of noticeable exceptions to the comprehensive coverage, which puzzled me until I realised how many pages they would occupy: Edgar Wallace (175 novels) and John Creasey (600 novels under 28 pseudonyms).
If you enjoy books about crime fiction, you should also look at my post about Books to Die For on Eurocrime.
Past Offences by Rich Westwood is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.