Today I’m delighted to revisit my Five on Friday interview with crime author and editor Martin Edwards which was first posted in November, 2019. It’s been brought up to date to reflect Martin’s latest books. Martin has received the CWA Diamond Dagger, the highest honour in British crime writing, given for the sustained excellence of his contribution to the genre. His latest novel Sepulchre Streer was published this month and the first in the Rachel Savernake series, Gallows Court, was nominated for two awards including the CWA Historical Dagger. British librarians awarded him the CWA Dagger in the Library in 2018 in recognition of his body of work. His eight and latest Lake District Mystery is The Crooked Shore.
Martin is a well-known crime fiction critic, and series consultant to the British Library’s Crime Classics. His ground-breaking study of the genre between the wars, The Golden Age of Murder won the Edgar, Agatha, H.R.F. Keating and Macavity awards. The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books won the Macavity and was nominated for four other awards, while Howdunit, a masterclass in crime writing by members of the Detection Club, won the H.R.F. Keating prize and was nominated for five other awards. His long-awaited history of the genre, The Life of Crime, was published in May 2022.
An expert on crime fiction history, he is archivist of both the Crime Writers’ Association and the Detection Club. He was elected eighth President of the Detection Club in 2015, spent two years as Chair of the CWA, and posts regularly to his blog, ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’
Over to Martin:
Which five pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
I’m strongly tempted to pick 5 (or more!) by my favourite composer, Burt Bacharach, whose music has steered me through good times and occasionally not such good times since my teens and continues to delight me.
But I’ll settle for Walk on By (Dionne Warwick).
America (Simon & Garfunkel) because it captures the mood of my youth
All I Ask of You (Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford) because it was played at our wedding (sorry I couldn’t find a clip of Sarah and Michael)
Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles) because it gave me the title of my first novel, All the Lonely People
You’re So Vain (Carly Simon) because it’s a witty lyric coupled with a great tune
What five things (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.
Give five pieces of advice to your younger self?
Don’t worry about stuff that doesn’t matter
Don’t be so shy
Learn how to play the piano
Travel to new places whenever you get the chance
Tell us five things that most people don’t know about you
I wrote my first crime story aged ten
I used to write song lyrics when I was a student
I once saw the Beatles live (opening a carnival, not singing….)
I was interviewed on BBC Radio at age thirteen
I was once a lawyer acting for the Football Association
Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.
Many of the things that often seem to feature on other people’s bucket lists – snorkelling, ski-ing, skydiving, running a marathon, climbing Kilimanjaro and so on – have as much appeal for me as a trip to the dentist. Probably much less, given that my dentist is a very pleasant woman. Especially in recent years I’ve tried as much as possible to live for the moment, and I don’t believe in having regrets. So my bucket list would simply involve travel trips that I’ve not got round to yet:
A Nile cruise (shades of Agatha Christie)
The Giant’s Causeway (so near, yet so far!)
A cruise around Alaska
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Rachel Savernake series
Gallows Court #1
The night is sooty, sulphurous, and malign. A spate of violent deaths has horrified the capital and the smog-bound streets are deserted. No woman should be out on a night like this. But Rachel Savernake is no ordinary woman.
To Scotland Yard’s embarrassment, she solved the Chorus Girl Murder, and now – along with journalist Jacob Flint – she’s on the trail of another killer.
Savernake and Flint’s pursuit of the truth will mire them ever-deeper into a labyrinth of deception and corruption. Murder-by-murder, they will be swept ever-closer to that ancient place of execution, where it all began and where it will finally end: Gallows Court.
Mortmain Hall #2
ENGLAND, 1930. Grieving widows are a familiar sight on London’s Necropolis Railway. So when an elegant young woman in a black veil boards the funeral train, nobody guesses her true purpose.
But Rachel Savernake is not one of the mourners. She hopes to save a life – the life of a man who is supposed to be cold in the grave. But then a suspicious death on the railway track spurs her on to investigate a sequence of baffling mysteries: a death in a blazing car; a killing in a seaside bungalow; a tragic drowning in a frozen lake. Rachel believes that the cases are connected – but what possible link can there be?
Rich, ruthless and obsessed with her own dark notions of justice, she will not rest until she has discovered the truth. To find the answers to her questions she joins a house party on the eerie and remote North Yorkshire coast at Mortmain Hall, an estate. Her inquiries are helped – and sometimes hindered – by the impetuous young journalist Jacob Flint and an eccentric female criminologist with a dangerous fascination with perfect crimes…
Blackstone Fell #3
England, 1930. Journalist Nell Fagan is on the trail of a bizarre mystery: in 1606, a man vanished from a locked gatehouse in Blackstone Fell, a remote Yorkshire village. Three hundred years later, it happened again. Days after confiding in sleuth Rachel Savernake, Nell herself disappears.
In search for answers, and determined to bring an end to the disappearances, Rachel travels to the lonely Yorkshire village, with its eerie moor and sinister tower. But Rachel must be careful – with all of these people going missing, there’s every chance she will be taken too…
Sepulchre Street #4
How can you solve a murder before it’s happened?
‘This is my challenge for you,’ the woman in white said. ‘I want you to solve my murder.’
London, 1930s: Rachel Savernake is attending renowned artist Damaris Gethin’s latest exhibition, featuring live models who pose as famous killers. But that’s just the warm-up act…
Unsure why she was invited, Rachel is soon cornered by the artist who asks her a haunting favour: she wants Rachel to solve her murder. Damaris then takes to the stage set with a guillotine, the lights go out – and Damaris executes herself.
Why would Damaris take her own life? And, if she died by her own hand, what did she mean by ‘solve my murder’?
There are many questions to answer, and the clues are there for those daring enough to solve them…
Lake District Cold Case mysteries
The Coffin Trail #1
Oxford historian Daniel Kind and his partner Miranda both want to escape to a new life. On impulse they buy a cottage in Brackdale, an idyllic valley in the Lake District. But though they hope to live the dream, the past soon catches up with them.Tarn Cottage was once home to Barrie Gilpin, suspected of a savage murder. A young woman’s body was found on the Sacrifice Stone, an ancient pagan site up on the fell, but Barrie died before he could be arrested. Daniel has personal reasons for becoming fascinated by the case and for believing in Barrie’s innocence. When the police launch a cold case review, Brackdale’s skeletons begin to rattle and the lives of Daniel and DCI Hannah Scarlett become strangely entwined. Daniel and Hannah each find themselves risking their lives as they search for a ruthless murderer who is prepared to kill again to hide a shocking secret.
The Cipher Garden #2
In the peaceful village of Old Sawrey, set in the idyllic Lake District, a murderer strikes. Warren Howe, a husband and father of two, is brutally slaughtered with his own scythe by a mysterious hooded figure. The police manage to identify several suspects, but due to the lack of evidence they fail to make an arrest.Years later an anonymous tip-off sparks the interest of DCI Hannah Scarlett, who heads the local Cold Case Review Team. Scarlett’s investigations lead her to suspect Howe’s widow, Tina. Meanwhile, someone is sending vicious poison pen letters to Tina and her two children.With the help of a historian, and his information on the goings on in his unusual garden, Inspector Scarlett delves deeper and deeper in her quest for the truth, discovering old sins that are casting long shadows. The clues are eventually pieced together, leading to a shocking revelation that will change Hannah’s life forever.
The Arsenic Labyrinth #3
Daniel Kind’s relationship with Miranda is on the rocks. After the bright lights of London, Miranda feels isolated in the Lake District and Daniel fears that she will just up and leave. And Miranda wouldn’t be the first: ten years ago Emma Bestwick left her cottage and never returned. Her disappearance went unaccounted for, much to the chagrin of DCI Hannah Scarlett, head of the local Cold Case Review Team.But in a small, rural community, someone is bound to know something. And that someone has recently started calling the local newspaper and dropping hints about Emma’s death. With the case reopened, Hannah and Daniel are drawn together again, and discover to their cost that one person will preserve the secrets of the past at any price.
The Serpent Pool #4
The Lake District’s cold case specialist, DCI Hannah Scarlett, is determined to uncover the truth behind Bethany Friend’s apparent suicide in the Serpent Pool. Why would Bethany, so afraid of water, drown herself? Hannah fears that her partner, bookseller Marc Amos, is keeping dark secrets. Does he hold the key to Bethany’s past – and why was his best customer burnt to death in an Ullswater boathouse? Hannah still carries a torch for Daniel Kind, who is researching Thomas De Quincey and the history of murder. Once Daniel and Hannah suspect connections between Bethany’s drowning and a current sequence of killings, death comes dangerously close to home.
The Hanging Wood #5
Twenty years after her brother Callum mysteriously vanished, Orla Payne is still haunted by his disappearance. The case was closed after her uncle’s suicide – the police believed he killed himself in the Hanging Wood out of guilt over murdering the boy, even though no body was ever found.Daniel Kind recommends Orla contact DCI Hannah Scarlett, head of the Lake District’s Cold Case Review Team, to see if she can discover the truth about what really happened all those years ago. In spite of the DCI’s doubt there is anything to be done on such a long-dead case, when Orla is found dead, she reconsiders, partly out of sense of duty and partly out of guilt, and discovers that investigating the past can throw up some very dangerous truths indeed.
The Frozen Shroud #6
Death has come twice to Ravenbank, a remote community in England’s Lake District, each time on Hallowe’en. In 1914, a young woman’s corpse was found, with a makeshift shroud frozen to her battered face. Her ghost – the Faceless Woman – is said to walk through Ravenbank on Hallowe’en. Five years ago, another woman was murdered, and again her face was covered to hide her injuries. Daniel Kind becomes fascinated by the old cases, and wonders whether the obvious suspects really did commit the crimes.
The Dungeon House #7
Twenty years ago, Malcolm Whiteley discovers his attractive wife Lysette is having an affair. The Whiteleys are wealthy, and live with their 16-year-old daughter Amber in the magnificent Dungeon House, overlooking Cumbria’s remote western coast. But Malcolm is under financial and emotional pressure, and he begins to disintegrate psychologically, suspecting the men in their circle of being Lysette’s lover. When Lysette tells Malcolm their marriage is over, he snaps, and takes out the old Winchester rifle he has been hiding from Lysette…Back to the present day, and Hannah Scarlett’s cold case team are looking into the three-year-old mystery of the disappearance of Lily Elstone, whose father was Malcolm Whiteley’s accountant. Their investigation coincides with the disappearance of another teenage girl, Shona Whiteley, daughter of Malcolm’s nephew Nigel. Nigel now lives in the Dungeon House, despite its tragic history. Twenty years earlier, Malcolm shot his wife and apparently killed his daughter before shooting himself. But as Hannah’s team dig down into the past, doubts arise about what exactly happened at the Dungeon House twenty years ago…
The Crooked Shore #8
‘Perhaps beneath the surface we’re all capable of cruelty. Even if we don’t intend it.’ ‘Perhaps.’ ‘All right, you win. Let me explain why Ramona Smith had to die.’ DCI Hannah Scarlett is an acknowledged expert in solving cold cases, but she is struggling under the weight of bureaucracy when Ramona Smith’s disappearance from Bowness more than twenty years ago crosses her desk. The prime suspect was charged but found not guilty. Now the case has come back into the public eye as the result of a shocking tragedy on the Crooked Shore, the fount of dark legends south of the Lake District. A ruthless killer, who has already got away with one murder, plans further appalling crimes. DCI Scarlett finds herself racing against the clock as she strives to solve the mysteries and save innocent lives.
Harry Devlin series
All the Lonely People #1
All The Lonely People is the curtain-raiser to a successful nine-book series featuring Liverpool solicitor Harry Devlin. Devlin finds himself number one suspect in a murder case that is far too close to home. The victim is his estranged wife, Liz, who is found murdered in a dingy alleyway. Determined to find her killer and prove his innocence, Harry begins a journey that takes him into the city’s underworld and shatters forever his illusions about the woman he loved. Now beautifully presented in eBook format, avid readers of crime will love reading this gripping, well-written thriller.
Suspicious Minds #2
Harry Devlin is in trouble. The wife of his best client, Jack Stirrup, has vanished and the police suspect foul play. Stirrup claims she’s still alive, but Harry wonders if he has something to hide. When Stirrup’s daughter and her boyfriend go missing, Harry finds himself hunting a brutal murderer…
This special eBook edition contains a range of extras, including:
– An Introduction by Val McDermid
– The Making of Suspicious Minds
– Meet Martin Edwards
– Martin Edwards: An Appreciation
– Preview Chapter of ‘I Remember You’
I Remember You #3
When Liverpool solicitor Harry Devlin watches fire destroy the studio of his client, tattooist Finbar Rogan, he suspects it is no accident. And when a bomb is planted under Finbar’s car, Harry is left in no doubt. Someone hates Finbar enough to want him dead. Meanwhile, another client is provoking Devlin’s curiosity. Why should Rosemary Graham-Brown and her husband suddenly be so anxious to leave their luxurious home and emigrate to Spain? After a brutal murder occurs, the two puzzles become interlinked. Piecing the clues together, Harry finally comes face to face with the shocking truth at a fatal confrontation on a foggy Hallowe’en.
Yesterday’s Papers #4
On Leap Year Day in 1964, an attractive teenager called Carole Jeffries was strangled in a Liverpool park. The killing caused a sensation: Carole came from a prominent political family and her pop musician boyfriend was a leading exponent of the Mersey Sound. When a neighbour confessed to the crime, the case was closed. Now, more than thirty years later, Ernest Miller, an amateur criminologist, seeks to persuade lawyer Harry Devlin that the true culprit escaped scot free. Although he suspects Miller’s motives, Harry has a thirst for justice and begins to delve into the past. But when another death occurs, it becomes clear that someone wants old secrets to remain buried – at any price…
Eve of Destruction #5
When Liverpool solicitor and detective Harry Devlin takes on a client who has been taping his wife’s telephone conversations with her lover, he gets more than he bargained for. The first mystery is the identity of Becky’s boyfriend, whose voice Harry finds oddly familiar. Then, as a case of adultery slides frighteningly into conspiracy to murder, a trespasser makes a shocking discovery: three dead bodies in a converted church. Who are they? Who has killed them, and why? Trapped in a maze where neither victims nor apparent culprit are who they seem to be, Harry must go into the dark places of the human heart to find the answers.
The Devil in Disguise
Harry Devlin is hired by the Kavanaugh Trust to contest the will of their late patron. Charles Kavanaugh has left everything to his new housekeeper, Vera Blackhurst. Then the current Chairman of the Trust is found dead, fallen from a third-floor hotel window. Did he jump or was he pushed?
The First Cut is the Deepest
Harry Devlin is playing a dangerous game when he gets involved with the wife of Liverpool’s most ruthless villain. But he has another reason to look over his shoulder after two lawyers are brutally killed and Harry discovers he is being stalked by a stranger with a secret obsession…
IN MEMORY Harry Devlin Died Suddenly Liverpool Midsummer’s Eve No one expects to read their own obituary. Liverpool lawyer Harry Devlin never knew five short lines could be so menacing – someone wants him dead and he’s only got seven days to find the killer. When the mutilated corpse of a young woman washes up on Waterloo Beach, Harry wonders if the premature notice of his demise and the discovery of a dead girl might be connected. Now he’s only got six days…
Take My Breath Away
Lawyer-turned-writer Nic Gabriel is stunned when womanising Dylan Rees, his host at a champagne reception at the Houses of Parliament, is knifed by an ex-girlfriend and bleeds to death in front of him. It’s not just the horrific murder, but the fact that the ex, Ella, had apparently committed suicide over five years ago. Before the party Dylan had made cryptic mention of strange and sudden deaths and now, with his friend’s death, Nic is determined to discover his meaning. His research takes him to Creed, the country’s leading human rights law firm, where Nic meets Roxanne, a young lawyer starting out in her dream job with a secret to hide…
The Traitor (Death Sentences : short stories to die for)
The passion of book collectors might be termed ‘a gentle madness’ by some, but the affliction is, in truth, not always so gentle. This is the case with Felix de Lisle, a wealthy man rumored to have dealings with the mob, whose collection of espionage writer Simon Verity exhibits a dangerous obsession. When de Lisle discovers that there might have been a variant dust jacket, destroyed by the publisher, for his favourite of Verity’s titles, he becomes fixated on owning a copy. And he hires book scout Benny Morgan to track it down.
On the hunt for information, Benny calls upon an array of rare book dealers and collectors – and the bag of cash supplied by de Lisle helps find answers from sources who might be reluctant to share their knowledge. But the search soon takes a dark turn, uncovering a dark trail of betrayal, desire, and destruction that leads to the missing jacket art – and to a secret too terrible to be ignored. Ultimately, Benny will have to confront a deadly choice: loyalty to de Lisle, or to his own personal moral code.
The Life of Crime
Winner of the 2023 Edgar Award for Best Critical/Biographical book, and the H.R.F. Keating Award for best biography or critical book related to crime fiction. And now nominated for the Gold Dagger for non-fiction.
In the first major history of crime fiction in fifty years, The Life of Crime: Detecting the History of Mysteries and their Creators traces the evolution of the genre from the eighteenth century to the present, offering brand-new perspective on the world’s most popular form of fiction.
The Golden Age of Murder
Winner of the 2016 EDGAR, AGATHA, MACAVITY and H.R.F.KEATING crime writing awards, this real-life detective story investigates how Agatha Christie and colleagues in a mysterious literary club transformed crime fiction.
Detective stories of the Twenties and Thirties have long been stereotyped as cosily conventional. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Golden Age of Murder tells for the first time the extraordinary story of British detective fiction between the two World Wars. A gripping real-life detective story, it investigates how Dorothy L. Sayers, Anthony Berkeley, Agatha Christie and their colleagues in the mysterious Detection Club transformed crime fiction. Their work cast new light on unsolved murders whilst hiding clues to their authors’ darkest secrets, and their complex and sometimes bizarre private lives.
Crime novelist and current Detection Club President Martin Edwards rewrites the history of crime fiction with unique authority, transforming our understanding of detective stories, and the brilliant but tormented men and women who wrote them.
British Library Classics (edited by Martin)