I’m a middle-aged guy living in British Columbia, Canada who is an expert on detective fiction — a former reviewer, mystery bookstore employee/manager, dealer in rare mysteries and rare paperbacks. About 15 years ago, I received the inaugural “Black Dagger” award from the Matthew Baillie Begbie chapter of Crime Writers of Canada, for “Services to detective fiction”, and if the house is ever on fire, that and my wallet are what I’m grabbing on the way out the door. Am I serious about detective fiction? Well, I’m perhaps the only person you will ever meet who has a tattoo of Sherlock Holmes on his chest.
I’ve met a bunch of famous mystery authors, from P.D. James down to lesser lights, and I may be dropping some names. I also intend to be reviewing mysteries that I read, and even dredging up some that I love. I’ll discuss material that I encounter whether it’s in film, television, books, games, Internet-based formats, whatever. And I’m not entirely restricted to detective fiction. I like various kinds of genre fiction, including science fiction and horror. I also like thinking about the meta-analysis of genre fiction, so you may get articles on various large-scale concepts like the puzzle mystery. And there’s always the chance that I will decide to write that long-promised opus about Della Street.
“Curating genre fiction since 1972”? Perhaps just a conceit. In my last year of high school I wrote a essay on the locked-room mystery that won me a trip to Victoria, B.C., so that’s the date I’ve arbitrarily picked as the beginnings of my fascination with detective fiction specifically and genre fiction in general. I worked at the very first murder mystery bookstore in Canada, Sleuth of Baker Street in Toronto, from the day it opened its doors (before its current owners took possession), and that dates back, as I dimly remember, to 1979. I also spent a few years behind the counter at the first such bookstore in Vancouver. Over the 40 years since 1972 I have read, oh, maybe 25,000 or 30,000 novels; I combine an exceptional reading speed with a really good memory. I must confess that many of the books I add to that count are ones that I have read more than once — in some cases many times — for sheer enjoyment. Once every five or ten years, for instance, I am impelled to read my way through the Nero Wolfe novels. If you don’t understand how someone can read a whodunnit twice, merely for pleasure, you’re reading the wrong commentator.
So over the years I’ve reviewed mysteries, I’ve curated them in various ways, and I’ve had a hell of a lot of them go through my hands as a seller and a buyer. I’m interested in the value of mysteries as collectibles, and about retail markets for collectibles, now that that marketplace has been rationalized by the Internet. And by and large, I still like to read the damn things and pretty much always have one on the go. I like to talk about them, I like to recommend them to my friends, and I trust this blog will help me do that.
Thanks for dropping by. Your comments are very welcome but will be diligently moderated. This is not meant to be a two-way forum for any except the knowledgeable.