Recently I reached my fifty thousandth word in a joint critical biography of Richard Webb and Hugh Wheeler, which I'm thinking of as the halfway point in the project. I hope this book will interest both mystery fans and, if I don't sound too weighty and pompous, people interested in Anglo-American cultural history. I'm also trying to get another book (or two) done, specifically for next year, a great anniversary in vintage crime fiction, and I hope to have more on that soon.
In January Stark House publishes the Ruth Fenisong twofer of Dead Weight and Deadlock, for which I wrote an introduction. For their cover they went with the old pulp fiction art from the Fifties, which I'm not too crazy about (nor is this blogger), but I hope people will give it a go. I like the crime writing of Ruth Fenisong a lot. Whether there will further reprints of her work unfortunately is questionable, as her relations for some reason have decided to rebuff any attempts at communication. It's a pity when such things happen to an author. As it stands, however, this will mark the first time Ruth Fenisong has been in print in nearly half a century, a surprising fact concerning a once popular mid-century crime writer. In a sensible world such lapses simply would not be.
With Dean Street Press I will be working next year on reissues of additional titles by Moray Dalton and Christopher Bush, as well as by another vintage British woman crime writer, who has been out-of-print for eight years but was favorably reviewed in her day, by Dorothy L. Sayers and others. We are nearing the end of the Bushes but just beginning our Dalton journey, which I hope you find as exciting as I do.
There will be more with Coachwhip--certainly the little engine (or adder?) that could--and I hope with Crippen & Landru to get another collection of short fiction by Webb and Wheeler out next year. My plan is for there to be three additional volumes in total, for which my proposed titles are: Hunt in the Dark and and Other Fatal Pursuits, with a novella, three novelettes and three short stories; Death Freight and Other Murderous Excursions, with four novelettes; and Exit before Midnight: A Final Murder Collection, with four novelettes and three essays.
This would leave a few odds and ends of short fiction by Webb and Wheeler unpublished, but the vast majority of their very substantial legacy of short fiction would be in print again. Coupled with Mysterious Press' reprinting of most (though not all) of Webb and Wheeler's crime novels, it will mark a grand restoration of one of the major names in American crime fiction.
In a burst of enthusiasm for the Webb-Wheeler project, I already wrote over the summer three introductions for the projected volumes, of 3500 words, 2400 words and 3200 words. This is the most far in advance I have written something, but I wanted to strike while I'm working on the Webb-Wheeler bio too. I hope 2020 will be a year of Webb and Wheeler.
And last but not least, there's a true crime piece involving mystery writers and publishers (the best kind!) that is coming up with CrimeReads. I let myself go to 6000 words with this one, and they are publishing it at that length, they tell me, so I hope you are prepared for a good long crime read! This will post on November 14, not long before Thanksgiving Day, the eighty-second anniversary of the murder I discuss.