Another classic crime reissue from the British Library this week – this is the book I mentioned that I hadn’t finished in time for the Quick Reviews and in the end that’s turned out to be a good thing as it means I can write about it at a greater length here. And I’m also relatively timely for once – as this was one of the BLCC’s January releases.
The author of the title is Vivian Lestrange, the reclusive person behind several bestselling mystery novels. He is reported missing by his secretary – who arrived for work one day and found the house locked up and her boss – and his housekeeper – vanished without a trace. But the investigation is mired in confusion from the start – there is no body and there is even doubt about whether Lestrange really exists. Could the secretary, Eleanor, perhaps be him? Bond and Warner from Scotland Yard have a real job on their hands.
I enjoyed this so much. Lorac has set up a seemingly impossible crime and laid so many red herrings around that you can’t work out what you’re meant to think. And then there’s the humour. As previously mentioned E C R Lorac is a pen name for Carol Carnac, a woman mystery writer. And it’s clear that she’s having a lot of fun at the expense of reviewers and readers of the time who couldn’t believe that a woman could write mysteries the way that she did. It’s just delightful. I read it in about two giant sittings, across 36 hours and if I hadn’t had to get on with my normal life I would have read it even faster! It was first published in 1935 and has been incredibly rare and hard to get hold of until now – which is a bit boggling because it is so good – so thank goodness for the British Library!
I got Death of an Author through my Kindle Unlimited subscription, so that’s the only ebook platform you can get it on at the moment, but you can of course buy it in paperback direct from the British Library shop where they are doing three for two at the moment so you could pick up some of the others that I have recommended recently – or potentially through your local bookshop that carries the BLCC series as it only came out in the middle of January so it may well be in their latest selection.