Last year, I put up this post lamenting the dearth of classic-era detective fiction, and then one claiming that I was going to try and do something about this. And then things went quiet. Very quiet. Almost too quiet, wouldn’t you say?
Well, see, that’s because I was working at trying to making it happen. And the result of that work is this: Bold Venture Press will be republishing two impossible crime novels by Theodore Roscoe — Murder on the Way! (1935) and I’ll Grind Their Bones (1936) — over the next couple of months or so, with yours truly having edited and prepared the texts for publication as well as writing introductions for each book.
Murder on the Way! is available to buy now in both ebook and in printed form — good news, Sergio! — with the gorgeously gaudy cover shown up top. It’s at boldventurepress.com now, and listings have started to appear on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, BooksaMillion, and all the usual places. The plot has been summarised thusly:
An artist and his girlfriend attend a funeral of her uncle on the island of Haiti, where they encounter the deep vein of Voodoo superstition. The legend of living souls trapped in dead bodies becomes a frightening reality as they witness a Zombie resurrection.
The tale by the well-traveled pulp fiction author Theodore Roscoe captured his sense of awe and terror surrounding such a monster in the very place that would have given rise to it. His first-hand experience during his travels in Haiti taught him of such legends and arguably enabled him to use them to quite excellent ends in MURDER ON THE WAY!
Thus, well before the Zombie came to represent today’s flesh-eating cinematic monster of lore, Roscoe’s story published by the New York Dodge Publishing Company in 1935, unravels impossible shootings, inexplicable disappearances, and the stirrings of rebellion that form the background of this most unforgettable of weekend house-parties in the heart of Zombie madness.
If you want to know how excited you should be, here’s TomCat’s take on it from a few years back.
This immensely cool turn of events has come about due to the brilliant work of Rich Harvey and Audrey Parente at Bold Venture, who have been amazing since the very first email they received from me, which must surely have had them questioning my sanity. Audrey wrote the authorised biography of Roscoe — Pulpmaster: The Theodore Roscoe Story (1992) — having gotten to know him in his later years and working extensively with him to catalogue his work and life (and, damn, didn’t Roscoe ever live an interesting life!). For an overview of that man and his work I can legitimately and wholeheartedly recommend it, and my two introductions are deliberately short on biography so that you have the chance to learn about the man afresh from Audrey’s far more personal take.
The two novels themselves, suffice to say, are simply wonderful — it was such a joy to discover the richness and depth of Roscoe’s prose, and the insanity of his freewheeling plotting and construction, while editing the OCR’d pages into shape. It’s far from the best way to discover a book, but there’s such great clarity in what he writes that it was difficult not to be blown away at times. And the puzzles he proposes and frames and explains are doozies: I’m in the process of compiling a list of the 100 impossible crime novels that I feel comprise the ultimate English language library on the subgenre, and both of these are absolute shoo-ins. But more on all that later.
More news on the release of I’ll Grind Their Bones as we get it, possibly a review of each or some sort of discussion if I feel that’s a legitimate cause that doesn’t appear too self-serving, but mainly it’s just great to finally be able to share this with you all. It’s been a very exciting time, Rich and Audrey have been so enthusiastic and easy to work with throughout, and I can’t wait for you all to take on Roscoe and see what the world has been missing.
And those of you who don’t already know it will learn my full name, too, provided you at least look in the front of the book. This is, however, far from the most exciting thing about the news I’m sharing here…