New Sources for Reissued Classics and Translated French Crime Novels

I’ve been known to spend hours searching online for some hard to find edition of an out-of-print crime novel – wading through descriptors like fine, edgeworn, foxed, price clipped, etc. in search of that single bright, tight copy.  Not everyone has the time, patience, or desire for such obsessive activities.  Fortunately, there are an increasing number of places to track down these novels in eBook form.

Here are two such sources that I’ve recently come across:

1) The Murder Room – This site, launched by the Orion Publishing Group, is dedicated to making classic, hard to find, or out-of-print crime novels available in eBook form.  The site is fairly new but already has some 100 or so books available.  The Murder Room also has interesting articles, news, competitions, etc. that should appeal to crime fiction fans.

2)  Le French Book – This is a new eBook publisher that will focus on making French novels (especially crime novels) available in translation.  Many people, myself included, are familiar with only a few French crime authors, Fred Vargas chief among them.  Le French Book wants to change that.

I’m particularly interested in Treachery in Bordeaux, the first in The Winemaker Detective Series.   There are apparently already 20 books published in the series in France!  There’s also a tv adaptation that looks quite promising.  Let’s hope someone picks it up for subtitle presentation.

Does anyone know of any other sources for out-of-print or hard to find crime novels?

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Reissued Classics – James Anderson’s Inspector Wilkins Series

Anyone who enjoys golden age mysteries or who appreciates stories told with Wodehousian flair (or both!) should give James Anderson’s three Inspector Wilkins mysteries a try.  The first novel in the series wasn’t published until 1975 but it’s a classic 1930’s style mystery chock-full of all the great golden age devices including the country manor house, locked rooms, secret heirs, imposters, elaborate resolutions and full cast drawing room reveals.  The titles of the novels themselves give a fair taste of what’s in store: The Affair of the Blood-Stained Egg Cosy, The Affair of the Mutilated Mink, and The Affair of the Thirty-Nine Cufflinks.  Fantastic!

Anderson pokes gentle fun at the genre without ever becoming snide or condescending – more cheeky homage than biting satire.

Various UK references categorize the novels as the Burford or Burford Family Mysteries – which in fact is more accurate as Inspector Wilkins is rarely the point of view character and is often not even present.  He is endearing however, and a great foil for the somewhat dim but well intentioned Earl of Burford, his headstrong daughter and all of the other colorful characters that turn up for these three disastrous house parties.

The Inspector does not like these upper class murders at all – they’re so complicated!  As he says to the Earl, who wants to sing his praises to the Chief Constable after he resolves the Mutilated Mink case,

“Oh, no, my lord, please don’t do that.  The more commendations of that sort I get, the more cases of this sort I’ll be assigned to.  And I really don’t like them.  I’d much sooner be handling nice simple burglaries and car thefts.”

If you’re in the mood for an enjoyable golden age escape crafted by a light, intelligent hand then give Inspector Wilkins and the Burfords a chance.

Check out the Allison & Busby site for plot descriptions for each book and to see their attractive art deco-esque paperback editions.