With my week of leisure coming to an end and a bit of uncertainty about how much time I’ll have to blog over the next few months, I wanted to focus on something positive and think about the books I’m most looking forward to getting – even if it may be a while until I get to them.
Below are the five reprints I am most looking forward to seeing arrive on my doorstep – restricting myself to one title per imprint to spread the love around. The eagle-eyed among you may see a sixth title that goes beyond the brief but as it is clearly genre-related, I think it fits here all the same. Consider it a bonus pick!
Twice Round the Clock by Billie Houston
British Library Crime Classics – April 10, 2023 (UK)
It’s been a while since I have picked up anything new from the British Library Crime Classics range – mostly because I had cut back on importing copies from the UK and the US editions are released with a delay. I ended up breaking that self-imposed rule to get hold of John Dickson Carr’s The Black Spectacles for an upcoming book club. Of course, once you order one you might as well get a slightly bigger package…
Unlike some of the other upcoming titles, this one is completely unknown to me which adds intrigue for me. This novel, the only one by Houston, appears to be a country house mystery in which a scientist is murdered in his study during a house party. The most novel aspect of this book for me is its conscious playing with time, as suggested by its title, as apparently it will cover twelve hours of events leading up to the murder and twelve of investigation.
Death of a Stray Cat & An Affair of the Heart by Jean Potts
Stark House Mystery Classics – May 19, 2023
Last year I had my first encounter with Jean Potts and while I had a couple of reservations about a few aspects of that story, I was excited enough to go out and buy copies of each of the other reprint collections published by Stark House. This volume, published next month, is the next and offers up two more stories from the author, each containing elements that intrigue me.
Of the two, the one that appeals most to me from the description is An Affair of the Heart – a story in which an advertising agent is found dead from an apparent heart attack in his mistress’ apartment. The question is why he didn’t have his heart pills with him, particularly as he had recently survived a heart attack.
I find mysteries in which it’s not even initially clear that a murder has taken place at all to be interesting so I am really interested to see what Potts does with this premise. That I’ll get a second story into the bargain makes this all the more appealing!
The Thinking Machine by Jacques Futrelle
Library of Congress Crime Classics – June 6, 2023
Sometimes the joy of a reprint is getting access to a book that was completely inaccessible. Most of the time though, for me, it’s about getting it in the format you’d prefer to read.
Jacques Futrelle’s The Thinking Machine has long been in the public domain so this is not a case of the former. Instead what excites me here is getting a print edition that will have been properly proof-read. I am even quite looking forward to the footnotes which I know have been quite divisive with readers in previous publications.
As for what the book’s about – it’s a short story collection featuring a detective who solves crimes by the rigorous application of logic. I’ve never read it and I am aware that the quality is not entirely consistent but I will be excited to give it a try for myself.
The Devil’s Flute Murders by Seishi Yokomizo
Pushkin Vertigo – June 29, 2023 (UK), July 4, 2023 (US)
While I haven’t quite got around to reading all of the Yokomizo novels I have on my shelf, I have been really excited by these new translations from Pushkin Vertigo. I am likely to tackle the next one, The Devil’s Flute Murders, before going back to the two I have yet to read because I find its premise pretty appealing.
The mystery takes place in the home of a brooding, troubled composer who has recently been found dead. His family have gathered to try to contact his spirit but when one of their number is found killed, Kosuke Kindaichi is called upon to investigate.
The chief appeal factor for me here is the idea referenced in one of the blurbs that the composer’s most famous piece is one that utterly chills all those who hear it. I am hoping that this leans into that sense of dread to create an atmospheric read. I am hoping to get to this one pretty quickly after publication!
Rim of the Pit by Hake Talbot
American Mystery Classics – October 3, 2023
Unlike the other titles on this list, I already own a copy of Hake Talbot’s Rim of the Pit. So, why am I excited to buy another one? Well, I think it boils down to formatting but also because knowing it will be widely available gives me that little extra push to settle down and read it. Why? Because it’s great to know that when you are done reading it that others will be able to do so as well and you can talk with others about it.
The book is a highly recommended example of the impossible crime story, set in the snowy wilds of New England. It features a séance to contact the dead husband of the medium but things seem to go wrong with the dead man’s spirit apparently inhabiting the body of one of the guests.
There’s lots to interest me here but if there’s one element that particularly grabs me it’s the evocation of the supernatural. After several years of reading people rave about this (it was second in the 1981 Locked Room Library list), I am excited to finally get around to reading this for myself.
How to Survive a Classic Crime Novel by Kate Jackson
British Library Publishing – June 8, 2023 (UK)
Those who have been counting carefully will note that this is the sixth book on my list which basically means it’s an extra. The reason is that it isn’t a reprint but rather an original humorous work discussing the lessons that can be learned from reading lots of vintage mysteries. And, for those who are unaware, Kate Jackson (who blogs at Cross Examining Crime) is a prolific reader of vintage mysteries.
I’m looking forward to seeing what lessons Kate extracts from the books I have already read but also to learning about writers and novels that will be entirely new to me. From the blurb alone I already have found one I’m excited to read myself. This will be another case of a title that causes me to break my self-imposed “no imports” rule!
For more about this title check out Kate’s 1,500th blog post from a few months ago where she trails this title.
So, there you have the books I am most excited to get my hands on soon. What are you looking forward to?
14 thoughts on “5 Forthcoming Vintage Mystery Reprints I’m Excited About”
Thanks for the list, which contains several books to which to look forward. Amazing to see Rim of the Pit to be re-printed. That is a must read for any impossible crime fan.
Two others worthy of attention: (1) From the British Library: Christianna Brand’s, “Suddenly at His Residence (aka The Crooked Wreath)”, which has both two impossible crimes as well as Brand’s ability to create brilliant, memorable characters. (2) From Moonstone: Zoë Johnson’s, “At the Sign of the Clove and Hoof”, which was re-printed with the help of John over at the Pretty Sinister Blog. I enjoyed this one immensely.
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Thanks Scott – I hadn’t heard of the Johnson which sounds like an interesting read. I shall investigate further!
The atmosphere of Rim of the Pit is incredible. I’d move that one to the top of the TBR list.
My dream wish list for paperback reprints includes The Never Summer Mystery by Tyline Perry, The Death of Laurence Vining by Alan Thomas, Top Storey Murder by Anthony Berkeley, and basically everything Henry Wade wrote.
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Most of your wish list are ones I have yet to read (though I shall certainly look them up) – I would dearly love a full set of Wade in matching/complementary covers. He is one of my favorite authors of the Golden Age.
I will certainly tackle Rim of the Pit as a priority when it arrives!
Laurence Vining is excellent. Highly recommended. The only Perry I have read is The Owner Lies Dead so I appreciate the recommendation of Never Summer Mystery.
Coincidentally, I am reading No Friendly Drop by Wade now and it’s excellent. Wade re-prints would be very welcome.
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Yes – I bought all of them as ebooks but would gladly double-dip for nice print copies!
I read The Thinking Machine when I was a kid and I didn’t like at all. I still think of how little I like the solutions to this day! It may seem harsh, but it just doesn’t work. You are presented with a problem and the solution to that problem is always an ass-pull. It’s very much the kind of story that Knox was thinking about when he wrote his 10 commandments.
I am certainly not a fan of the random, unclued solution. I will adjust my expectations going into it!
It’s a bit of a shame that the AMC is reprinting Rim of the Pit, given that an already excellent and affordable version is available — the mapback on the Ramble House edition is utterly superb. I’d prefer it if they concentrated on books that weren’t already accessible, but I guess when you own an imprint you can publish whatever the hell you like 🙂
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I can understand that (and I appreciate the map too as I also have that edition). The counterpoint I’d make is that these will make it onto mainstream bookstore and library shelves so perhaps this edition will turn some readers onto what seems to be a pretty universally appreciated mystery. I do agree though that I particularly appreciate when hard to find titles get reprinted.
Thank you for making an exception to your one by imprint rule, for my book. It is both exciting and terrifying to see what people will make of it. As you touch upon in your post I do hope readers will see some familiar faces, but also discover new authors to track down too.
Of course. I can’t wait to get my hands on it!
I’m glad Pushkin Vertigo is so dedicated to translating Japanese mystery writers and like how they went with Seishi Yokomizo as their flagship author, because Yokomizo’s classics provide a historical foundation to the translations from the new wave of Japanese mystery writers from the past 30 years. Very much look forward to The Devil’s Flute Murders! Pushkin Vertigo is publishing another Japanese mystery novel, Futaro Yamada’s The Meiji Guillotine Murders, in early December.
Hake Talbot’s Hangman’s Handyman and Rim of the Pit deserve to be in print, but, as JJ noted, there are already excellent and affordable reprint editions available from Ramble House. Reprints of John Sladek’s Black Aura or Invisible Green would probably been a better choice considering how long they have been out-of-print. I second jdf21’s call to get Tyline Perry’s The Never-Summer Mystery and Anthony Berkeley’s Top Storey Murder reprinted next. Personally, I would finally like to see a translation of Rafael Bernal’s Un muerto en la tumba (A Dead Man in the Tomb, 1946). A Mexican locked room mystery Anthony Boucher raved about.
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Thanks for sharing the news about the Yamada. I missed that when scouring the upcoming releases of each publisher.
Black Aura would be a wonderful title for a reprint – an amazing, atmospheric read.