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Summary

In the first major history of crime fiction in 50 years, The Life of Crime: Detecting the History of Mysteries and Their Creators traces the evolution of the genre from the 18th century to the present, offering brand-new perspective on the world’s most popular form of fiction. 

Author Martin Edwards is a multi-award-winning crime novelist, the president of the Detection Club, archivist of the Crime Writers’ Association and series consultant to the British Library’s highly successful series of crime classics, and therefore uniquely qualified to write this book. He has been a widely respected genre commentator for more than 30 years, winning the CWA Diamond Dagger for making a significant contribution to crime writing in 2020, when he also compiled and published Howdunit: A Masterclass in Crime Writing by Members of the Detection Club and the novel Mortmain Hall. His critically acclaimed The Golden Age of Murder (Collins Crime Club, 2015) was a landmark study of detective fiction between the wars.

The Life of Crime is the result of a lifetime of reading and enjoying all types of crime fiction, old and new, from around the world. In what will surely be regarded as his magnum opus, Martin Edwards has thrown himself undaunted into the breadth and complexity of the genre to write an authoritative—and enjoyable—study of its development and evolution. With crime fiction being read more widely than ever around the world, and with individual authors increasingly the subject of extensive academic study, his expert distillation of more than two centuries of extraordinary books and authors—from the tales of E.T.A. Hoffmann to the novels of Patricia Cornwell—into one coherent history is an extraordinary feat and makes for a compelling listen.

©2022 Martin Edwards (P)2022 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic reviews

"Few, if any, books about crime fiction have provided so much information and insight so enthusiastically and, for the reader, so enjoyably." (The Times)

"Illuminating and entertaining—provides a new way of looking at old favourites. I admire the way that Martin Edwards weaves the sometimes violent, sometimes unlawful, and always gripping true stories of these writers with the equally wild tales they tell in their books." (Len Deighton, author of The Ipcress File)

"Forensically sharp and exhaustively informed…. Crime fiction is driven by death. In this superbly compendious and entertaining book, Edwards ensures that dozens of authorial corpses are gloriously reborn." (Mark Lawson, Guardian)

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18 hours of pleasure.

I thoroughly enjoyed this history of mystery fiction. It’s a book that Martin Edwards has been building to for a couple of non fiction titles now. He should consider the fore play well worth it as this is informative, entertaining and stimulating. The only drawback is I’m quids down from ordering mentioned titles.
All the usual suspects are here- Agatha C., Arthur C-D, Dorothy L.-, but so are sections on Patrick and Bruce Hamilton, F. Tennyson-Jesse and Georges Simenon among many which means it is a fresh and expansive take on a fairly well documented history. The narration is excellently unobtrusive (that is a compliment!).