Bodies from the Library: Ripe for a Reprint

bodiesfromlibraryAt the final session of yesterday’s Bodies from the Library conference at the British Library, the speakers were challenged to select one Golden Age title to pluck from obscurity.

Some of the panelists sneakily mentioned a few different titles before announcing their choice (and Simon Brett just cheated!), but here are the final ten.

  • David Brawn: The Passing of Mr Quinn (a novelisation of a 1928 Agatha Christie film adaptation)
  • Simon Brett: Thomas Browne’s Pseudodoxia Epidemica
  • John Curran: Shelley Smith’s Background to Murder
  • B. A. Pike: F. J. Whaley’s Challenge to Murder
  • Richard Reynolds: John Rowland’s Bloodshed in Bayswater
  • Dolores Gordon Smith: Philip Macdonald’s Warrant for X
  • L. C. Tyler: Richard Hull’s The Murder of my Aunt
  • Martin Edwards: Raymond Postgate’s Verdict of Twelve
  • Harry Medawar: Anthony Berkeley’s The Poisoned Chocolates Case
  • Jake Kerridge: Michael Innes’ The New Sonia Wayward

The Poisoned Chocolates CaseChristopher Bush, Philip Macdonald and Anthony Berkeley got a few mentions each and Richard Hull made it onto two shortlists.

About pastoffences

Past Offences exists to review classic crime and mystery books, with ‘classic’ meaning books originally published before 1987.
This entry was posted in British Library Crime Classics, Classic mystery book review, Golden Age detection, Information Received, Locked room mystery and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Bodies from the Library: Ripe for a Reprint

  1. Might be worth mentioning that the last two (at least) are actually in print, as e-books at least.


  2. Be good to see the Smith back in print certainly and more MacDonald is always good.


  3. Both The Poisoned Chocolates Case and The New Sonia Wayward are in print, in pb and eBook forms. Shelley Smith is great. Never been a great fan of The Murder of My Aunt, prefer some others by Hull. In the past Verdict of Twelve has gotten attention as the supposed first jury deliberation mystery, except it wasn’t.

    I have blogged about Whaley, bet that would surprise Barry (maybe he’ll become another BL reprint blogged about at the Passing Tramp, like Farjeon).


  4. Nordie says:

    so what’s going to happen then? is the BL actually going to pick these up/.


    • pastoffences says:

      It’s all down to rights (and schedules -the BL has a book a month in the pipeline for the next 2 years). David Brawn is from HarperCollins and I got the impression he was working on the Mr Quinn title. Richard Reynolds is also a publisher (Ostara in Cambridge) but I think he hasn’t managed to get rights to the Bayswater title.


  5. kaggsysbookishramblings says:

    Definitely Anthony Berkeley – but I’d like to see the Reggie Fortune stories getting more attention. The few I’ve read have been wonderful!


  6. John says:

    Never heard of John Roland. Off I go to find a used copy of Bloodshed in Bayswater.

    Smith’s BACKGROUND TO MURDER has been one of my target book in my never ending, always growing “Want List” but it keeps eluding me. A few years ago I did manage to snag a copy of a rather rare Smith title — HE DIED OF MURDER! Such a ridiculous title, makes me laugh whenever I type it or say it. I’d say that any of the previously reprinted Shelley Smith books that Academy Chicago released in the 1980s would be prime for another edition : PARTY AT No. 5, COME AND BE KILLED!, AN AFTERNOON TO KILL which is considered her masterpiece by many critics. I’ve reviewed all those and a few others on my blog. I prefer her crime novels some of which feature some detective novel elements but probably don’t merit the term detective novel. I gather that BACKGROUND TO MURDER has probably more detection than most. Very worthwhile reading, a severely neglected writer by most crime fiction fans. She contributed to the script of TIGER BAY, an excellent crime movie from the 1960s with Hayley Mills (her debut as an actress) and Horst Bucholz. An excellent movie!


  7. John says:

    Turns out it’s John ROWLAND not Roland who wrote Bloodshed in Bayswater. You may want to correct that above for anyone like me trying to find a copy. And I have heard of him. He wrote a book called Puzzle in Pyrotechnics copies of which has come up for sale repeatedly over the past couple of years. It’s a detective novel set in a fireworks factory but lacking in, according to one mystery fan who is a chemist, anything remotely resembling facts about the chemistry of fireworks. Maybe I’ll just pass on Rowland.


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