Sunday, September 08, 2013

Have you heard about The Murder Room?

I’d like to flash back to almost two years ago, if you’ll permit me. Back in December 2011, I made a post called The Great E-Book Debate, in which I shared:

- That I, of all people, had just purchased a Kindle
- Six reasons I purchased a Kindle
- My initial impressions of the device

Much has changed since then. For one thing, I no longer use that Kindle which I was so proud of – I’ve since upgraded to the Kindle Paperwhite, a magical device that allows me to read pretty much any time, anywhere, under any lighting conditions.

But the technology is not the only thing that’s changed. A lot of e-books have been published since December 2011. Many of them are brand-new works, but just as many are reissues of classic mystery novels – exactly the kind of stuff I want to read. And one more major publisher has joined the game, and I’d like to take some time to shamelessly promote this publisher.

The Murder Room describes itself as “an online portal devoted to bringing hard-to-find or out-of-print crime classics to a brand new audience”. I’m glad to report that they certainly live up to that promise. If, like me, you’re a fan of classic crime fiction, you might experience a shudder of pleasure as you browse through their online catalogue. Where else will you find Margaret Millar’s name within scrolling length of J. J. Connington’s?

There’s plenty of material being brought back to print by The Murder Room. And as a result, you’ll basically find a book for anyone’s reading tastes in their catalogue. If you’re a fan of noir, you can find several books by Jim Thompson, including his infamous The Killer Inside Me. Or maybe you like thrillers with non-stop action – perhaps James Hadley Chase’s No Orchids for Miss Blandish might suit your taste? Maybe you enjoy intelligent detective stories with twist endings, but with clues planted everywhere pointing to the killer. In that case, I highly recommend J. J. Connington’s work, and Anthony Boucher is also rather good in this regard. Or maybe you want a good story involving a locked room? John Dickson Carr’s your man. All of these authors are available from The Murder Room.

And I’ve got plenty other names I could mention, authors well worth your time. Names like Ronald Knox, Stanley Ellin, Anthony Gilbert, Joe Gores, Jonathan Latimer, Donald Thomas… Or how about Dorothy Uhnak, a respected police procedural writer who won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel for The Bait… which is also available from The Murder Room! (You can read more about Uhnak here, where you’ll find a great piece full of enthusiasm written by Sarah Weinman.)

The great thing is, even if you don’t own an e-reader, you can take advantage of The Murder Room’s catalogue. Many of their books are available as e-editions and print-on-demand books.

So why this post? Am I being paid to advertise? Is this part of an elaborate tax dodge? Well, no. I have two reasons for writing this piece. The first reason is to share news of The Murder Room’s existence: you can’t imagine how happy I was to find out about them. If anyone out there is desperately searching for one more Bill Crane mystery or that one Ronald Knox novel, this is a great place to look for them. And from what I hear, more great stuff is on the way. For instance, several Elizabeth Ferrars titles are being shown in the Kindle store as available for pre-order... and I have heard that one Helen McCloy might be finding her way back into print quite soon!

The second reason is that this post forms a nice introduction to tomorrow’s review, of a book written by an unfairly-neglected author… and which has been brought back to life by The Murder Room. Intrigued? Then come back tomorrow and find out just who is this Alternative Queen of Crime!

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