books monthly march 2017

This month's pick of the new Nostalgia titles...

 In this issue:

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  Crime and Thrillers
  Science Fiction & Fantasy

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  The Nostalgia Page
  The Military History Page

  The Jerry Dowlen Column

Monica Edwards: The White Riders


Published by Girls Gone By Publishers 18th October 2016


The White Riders is the fourth Romney Marsh story. Tamzin and Rissa are keeping house at Castle Farm in Mrs Merrow’s absence. To Tamzin’s horror, a property developer wants to turn the farm and the surrounding Marsh into a holiday camp. The four, and Mike from the farm, try to frighten the superstitious man away by recreating the ghostly White Riders from the past. It is a close and perilous fight. 
   We have included a short story by Monica Edwards, The Telegram..’


A brilliant package, as always, and with the added benefit of a short story by Monica. These stories are among the finest ever written for youngsters, faultless writing, brilliant characters and the GGBP package is as superb as ever.





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Martin Edwards: The Golden Age of Murder

Published by HarperFiction 9th February 2017


Winner of the 2016 EDGAR, AGATHA, MACAVITY and H.R.F.KEATING crime writing awards, this real-life detective story investigates how Agatha Christie and colleagues in a mysterious literary club transformed crime fiction. Detective stories of the Twenties and Thirties have long been stereotyped as cosily conventional. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Golden Age of Murder tells for the first time the extraordinary story of British detective fiction between the two World Wars. A gripping real-life detective story, it investigates how Dorothy L. Sayers, Anthony Berkeley, Agatha Christie and their colleagues in the mysterious Detection Club transformed crime fiction. Their work cast new light on unsolved murders whilst hiding clues to their authors’ darkest secrets, and their complex and sometimes bizarre private lives. Crime novelist and current Detection Club President Martin Edwards rewrites the history of crime fiction with unique authority, transforming our understanding of detective stories, and the brilliant but tormented men and women who wrote them.


No one knows more about the origins of British crime fiction than the brilliant Martin Edwards - this is a fine piece of writing, one that will put you in just the right mood for the three classic crime novels that follow below...


Simon Brett Ed.: The Sinking Admiral

Published by HarperFiction 23rd February 2017


The Floating Admiral was the first of the Detection Club’s collaborative novels, in which twelve of its members wrote a single novel. Eighty-five years later, fourteen members of the club have once again collaborated to produce The Sinking Admiral. ‘The Admiral’ is a pub in the Suffolk seaside village of Crabwell, The Admiral Byng. ‘The Admiral’ is also the nickname of its landlord, Geoffrey Horatio Fitzsimmons, as well as the name of the landlord’s dinghy. None of them are as buoyant as they should be, for the pub is threatened with closure due to falling takings. Tempers are already frayed due to the arrival of a television documentary team when Fitzsimmons is found dead in his tethered boat. The villagers assume a simple case of suicide and fear that their debt-ridden pub will now sink without trace. The journalists seem determined to finish the job by raking up old skeletons, but they weren’t banking on the fact that this story has been written by 14 extremely competitive crime writers – arch bamboozlers who will stop at nothing to save a good pub. The Sinking Admiral, edited by the Detection Club’s outgoing President – author and broadcaster Simon Brett, OBE – continues a tradition established by the Detection Club’s founders in 1931 when Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, Freeman Wills Crofts and eleven other esteemed authors wrote The Floating Admiral, a ‘collaborative novel’ to challenge themselves, fox their readers and help to pay for the Club’s running costs. Now, 85 years later, 14 of today’s leading crime writers have repeated this unique game of literary consequences, producing an original, ebullient and archetypal whodunit that will keep readers guessing right up to what crime lovers insist on calling the dénouement…

The contributors to The Sinking Admiral are:
all members of The Detection Club.


This is an amazing piece of fiction, with no less than fourteen writers pitching in to create something quite unique and something to be treasured in the annals of British crime fiction. Brilliant!

Anthony Berkeley: The Wychford Poisoning Case

Published by HarperFiction 23rd February 2017


One of the earliest psychological crime novels, back in print after more than 80 years. Mrs Bentley has been arrested for murder. The evidence is overwhelming: arsenic she extracted from fly papers was in her husband’s medicine, his food and his lemonade, and her crimes are being plastered across the newspapers. Even her lawyers believe she is guilty. But Roger Sheringham, the brilliant but outspoken young novelist, is convinced that there is ‘too much evidence’ against Mrs Bentley and sets out to prove her innocence. Credited as the book that first introduced psychology to the detective novel, The Wychford Poisoning Case was based on a notorious real-life murder inquiry. Written by Anthony Berkeley, a founder of the celebrated Detection Club who also found fame under the pen-name ‘Francis Iles’, the story saw the return of Roger Sheringham, the Golden Age’s breeziest – and booziest – detective.


This is the first of two Roger Sheringham mysteries to be published this month - first published in 1926 and 1928 respectively. From the Golden Age of British Crime, and reproduced quite brilliantly by HarperFiction, this and The Silk Stocking Murders are collectors' items and examples of the high quality of crime fiction that flooded the bookstores in the 1920s, when everyone was trying to outdo Agatha Christie. Superb facsimiles in this brilliant series.


Anthony Berkeley: The Silk Stocking Murders

Published by HarperFiction 23rd February 2017


A classic Golden Age crime novel, and one of the first to feature a serial killer. Investigating the disappearance of a vicar’s daughter in London, the popular novelist and amateur detective Roger Sheringham is shocked to discover that the girl is already dead, found hanging from a screw by her own silk stocking. Reports of similar deaths across the capital strengthen his conviction that this is no suicide cult but the work of a homicidal maniac out for vengeance – a desperate situation requiring desperate measures. Having established Roger Sheringham as a brilliant but headstrong young sleuth who frequently made mistakes, trusted the wrong people and imbibed considerable liquid refreshment, Anthony Berkeley took his controversial character into much darker territory with The Silk Stocking Murders, a sensational novel about gruesome serial killings by an apparent psychopath bent on targeting vulnerable young women.



The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its sixteenth year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email and I'll let you know where to send it.