Bring On The Bodies
For some time now writer and editor Martin Edwards has been unearthing rarely seen crime gems from the British Library, and looking at the history of the British crime novel in volumes like ‘The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books’ and ‘The Golden Age of Murder’, the latter concerning the badly behaved author-members of the Golden Age’s exclusive Detection Club.
PD James felt that you could better understand England in the 1920s through murder mysteries than by reading prize-winning serious novels. The authors often exposed their own prejudices, their political and sexual leanings through their whodunnits, accidentally creating a snapshot of those class-riven times.
Now comes another set of anthologies, ‘Bodies from the Library’, which dig deep into the British Library stacks to find forgotten stories, selected and introduced by Tony Medawar. His discoveries prove pleasingly memorable, with missing tales from Agatha Christie, AA Milne, Margery Allingham and Anthony Berkeley.
Even better, there’s a lost novella from Edmund Crispin, with newly exposed highlights from Dorothy L Sayers and Ngaio Marsh. Some authors’ tales, like those from John Dickson Carr, can feel rote and lazily tossed out on a wet Wednesday, but these are chosen with care, and the series has become essential to anyone interested in Golden Age crime.