The Plan for 2014

Well, I did say this blog would be intermittent…. But a number of interesting things have happened lately and have only just reached the point where I can comment publicly.
First comes an amazing book featuring a drug-taking, misanthropic private detective who helps the police and who is notable for his keen gift of observation and his powers of logical deduction. He is a master of disguise and has a complete grasp of the chemistry and forensic science of the period. His audacious exploits are chronicled by his friend, a doctor. Who else could it be but…Maximilien Heller. This Parisian detective appeared in 1871— 16 years before Sherlock Holmes showed up. The Killing Needle will be out in May and readers may judge for themselves how much Conan Doyle might have been influenced. Incidentally, it’s also the first occurrence of a now classical locked room trick. Secondly, the great Paul Halter has produced a marvelous romp wherein a number of unsuspecting potential victims are lured to a remote island-peninsula claimed to have been built on the site of King Arthur’s original castle. Needless to say, the visitors start to get bumped off in impossible ways, the prime suspect being the ghost of the vengeful king–or perhaps a recently released homicidal maniac. You can rely on Paul to provide a rational–and fiendishly clever–solution. The Invisible Circle appears mid-June.

Thirdly, by kind permission of Douglas Greene, LRI will be publishing an omnibus of Derek Smith’s work. Derek is best known for Whistle Up the Devil, which appears in many lists as one of the very best locked room mysteries ever written. You can’t find a hardcover for less than $40, and the other two books in the collection aren’t even on the market: Come to Paddington Fair was published privately in Japan only, and Model for Murder was never published (it was written as a Sexton Blake story). Doug, who knew Derek, didn’t find out until late last year that he had been bequeathed the rights to all his literary works, because the executors neglected to tell him! (I know the I in LRI stands for International, but international doesn’t exclude English.) The omnibus will be out in July with a foreword by Bob Adey.

Fourthly, I was privileged this month to meet the great Shimada Soji who was visiting New York (more about that in another blog) I’m delighted to say that LRI will be reprinting his masterpiece The Tokyo Zodiac Murders in the late summer. Soji is credited with launching the revival of the classic Golden Age mystery style in Japan through the honkaku (orthodox) movement. Its success can be measured by the sheer volume of mystery novels (mostly impossible crimes) pouring out every year and the mangas. Even children and young adults have the bug (e.g. Case Closed). You can find plenty of copies of TTZM for under $10, which is fine for anyone reading French, Chinese or Vietnamese. It gets a little trickier if you want it in English. One hardcover copy is being offered for 2400 UK Pounds–postage not included! This will be the first English trade paperback edition. We also discussed a lot of future plans which could lead to some great reading in the future but cannot be revealed for now. 

Fifthly, as can be seen from the home page, The Lord of Misrule, the first LRI publication, is the only book without a cover illustration, which irks collectors. We shall be rectifying that in the Fall with a typically crude-and-clunky LRI style cover. What is the method behind the madness, I hear you ask? I sketch out a suggested cover layout in stick-man form and the illustrator, the other great contemporary impossible crime master, Paul Halter, creates the cover. Quel homme! Truly a Renaissance man. 

Sixthly, I’ve penciled in a plan for fourth quarter release of an impossible crime anthology including 20 or so short stories from around the world. I’ve been working on it with a friend and drinking partner for quite a while and hopefully this will be the year. One obstacle has been rights issues which, as you can well imagine, get pretty complicated if you’re dealing with overseas rights organizations–and I don’t mean Amnesty International. Most of the stories have never appeared in English-language anthologies.

Seventhly, I have an agreement with Paul Halter, to translate and publish two novels a year, the next one in the series beingThe Blurred Image. Twist and Hurst fans will be pleased to learn of their return. The first Halter book in 2015 will be The Phantom Passage, featuring Owen Burns.
Turning to another publisher, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, two noteworthy stories are due out later in the year. The Ghost of the Badminton Court by Szu-Yen Lin is set in Taiwan and is planned for the August issue. The Lure of the Green Door by Norizuki Rentarou is frequently cited as one of the best Japanese impossible crime short stories. Hopefully it will appear in the November issue, but there have been contract issues and it is not a foregone conclusion. I recently submitted a brand new Halter short and another Shimada story and hope to be able to report on them in another blog.

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