Today however I'm back on the books and freshly enthused after the British Library's 'Bodies From The Library' classic crime conference- which was brilliant, if they run it again next year it's absolutely worth going to. I'll write more about it soon but am so very pleased with this particular book purchase I couldn't wait to share.
'Taking Detective Stories Seriously' is a collection of the crime reviews that Dorothy L. Sayers wrote for the Sunday Times between 1933 and 1935 (there's a scant handful of later ones too). I have yet to read the introduction and commentary by Martin Edwards (surely the busiest man in crime fiction?) but am very much looking forward to it. What I did do was spend the train journey home reading what Sayers had to say about all the books I'd read.
She must have worked every bit as hard as Martin Edwards does because along with writing her own books she was reviewing 3 or 4 crime novels a week which means we have a fairly comprehensive overview here of crime fiction over those years.
I loved Sayers when I was in my teens and susceptible to the romantic allure of Lord Peter, rather less when I realised how susceptible Sayers was to the same allure (there's something uncomfortable about reading that, as if she's inadvertently exposing something that should be private). And then there was 'Ask a Policeman' that was great fun, but has since made it quite hard to take any of the featured detectives at face value again.
Anyway, what I'm getting round to saying is that the Dorothy of these reviews is a delight. She's funny, honest in her criticisms, generous with praise, and altogether com s across as a woman you would love to sit down and talk about books with.
Crucially we're in perfect accord regarding Georgette Heyer (unremarkable plots, but with enough charm for it not to matter) which is my personal litmus test, and from there I found I broadly agreed with her view on most of the books I'd read. I liked Alan Melville's 'Quick Curtain' (a British Library Crime Classic) rather more than she did, but then he's not sending up my chosen work.
It will mostly be a book for dipping in and out of, but it made me laugh out loud several times in the train, which probably annoyed the man trying to sleep next to me, but made a very hot journey altogether more enjoyable than expected. I had absolutely no idea that Dorothy (the books made me think of her as Dorothy, rather than Sayers) could be so much fun, or funny. For anyone with even a passing interest in either Sayers, or Golden age crime fiction, this book should be a must buy. I am beyond delighted with it.