Ghost of Mystery Books Past

One of the reasons for my somewhat pre-emptive post earlier in the week was my lack of trust in the postal system here. But lo, it has come through, and a rather good-conditioned copy of MURDER INK: The Mystery Reader’s Companion, arrived at my place the other day. As “perpetrated” by Dilys Winn, founding owner of the late, lamented bookstore Murder Ink, this 1977 tome is an entertaining and enlightening snapshot of both the state of the genre and its fan community more than three decades ago. It also showcases stalwarts like P.D. James, Donald Westlake,William DeAndrea, Otto Penzler, Marilyn Stasio, and Robert B. Parker when they were younger, brasher and in many cases, still living. So for the rest of this month, on an ad-hoc basis, I’ll post excerpts of pieces from a book Wynn described thusly in the introduction:

There have, of course, been many fine books on the origin of the mystery, its characters and its authors. But no one has tackled the fun of mystery. No one has tried to integrate a fan’s fantasies with his love of the books and his desire to know where they depart from real life. That little niche, I think, belongs solely to MURDER INK, which has arranged this special meeting between readers and the writers, the facts and the fantasies, and in the process had a very good time of it.

Excerpt number one comes tomorrow.