#258: I’ll Grind Their Bones (1936) by Theodore Roscoe is Now Available from Bold Venture Press!

I'll Grind Their Bones

Here we are at last: the second (and final) Theodore Roscoe novel which I have been involved in republishing with the wonderful people at Bold Venture Press is now available to buy!

I’ll Grind Their Bones — originally serialised in 1936 under the title ‘War Declared!’ before being reworked for independent publication as a novel in its own right — is set in a thinly-veiled alternative Europe at a time of great international tension; when two leading diplomats meet to discuss the situation, they are mysteriously murdered and the entire continent plunged into a headlong descent that it seems can only culminate in war…and is likely to drag the entire world along with it.

The parallels to what was to unfold with the outbreak of the Second World War three years later are hard to ignore — I try to put this in the appropriate context in my introduction — and it’s an incredibly powerful piece of anti-war rhetoric that manages to make its point without ever preaching or ramming an agenda down your neck.  Alongside this, is it also rich in the sort of situations that make impossible crime nerds such as me very excited: how can a man be attacked in darkness when there’s no-one else in the room with him?  How can two men be shot on separate occasions when, again, there’s no-one else present and no sign of a gun?

As a wide-ranging international thriller, this is obviously a very different proposition to the tightly-focused insanity of Murder on the Way! (1935); the ostensible protagonist is reporter John Keats, but there’s a much larger and more delicately-handled cast and a far larger canvas being drawn in the background.  Nevertheless, both are clearly the product of Theodore Roscoe’s astonishing narrative dexterity — goddamn, this guy really could write:

All day John Keats had suffered that tension in the back of his mind, that “here it comes” feeling he’d experienced as a boy squirming on the curbstone, waiting for the circus parade. That sensation you had in a theatre when the signal finally buzzed in the orchestra pit, the house lights dimmed, the audience settled forward in hush, the curtain started up.

Of the two, I think this might just be my favourite; there’s a level of complexity and a restrained, almost beautiful anger in the writing that feels eerily timeless given the way decisions to descend into conflict seem to have been made time and again over the years since this warning shot was originally fired.

It’s a wonderful book, and I’m tremendously proud to have had a hand in bringing back into print for a new audience to discover.  It is available to buy in all the usual places — Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc — and the ebook version for non-US dwellers is again available through Smashwords.

I’d be sad that this brings to an end my adventures in publishing, but it’s such a great book that, if this is the last I ever have to do with this field — and let’s not ignore the amazing tolerance shown by Rich and Audrey at Bold Venture in humouring me throughout this entire endeavour — I will always be exceptionally happy to have finished on this high note.  I’d say I hope you enjoy it, but I honestly don’t see how you couldn’t…

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16 thoughts on “#258: I’ll Grind Their Bones (1936) by Theodore Roscoe is Now Available from Bold Venture Press!

    • Here’s hoping it’s temporary, hey? I — like, I’m sure, most of us — have a list of books as long as my arm that are lingering neglected and (largely) forgotten and would be ripe for a reprint by someone. Any publishers out there interested…?!

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  1. Congrats on getting this reissued, JJ! I’m looking forward to adding this one to my collection of impossible crime stories on my next round. The setting and background of the book sounds as intriguing as the locked room problem itself, but then again, I always loved detective stories with a war background. Even when they’re thinly disguised.

    By the way, I hope you read my cautious warnings about Wilders Walks Away on my Fatal Flaws blog-post from two months ago.

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    • What’s especially pleasing about these books is that while they are great impossible puzzles, they’re not just great impossible puzzles — Roscoe has a lot to offer in terms of character, pacing, and sheer style points for how he strings it all together. There’s so much here for anyone who has an interest in this sort of thing, and it’s wonderful to have had a hand in helping people discover it.

      And, yeah, your WWA comments were duly noted…and may have played a part in my selection of that book to read. Still working my way through it at this stage, so I can’t comment decisively, but it’s always nice to be given pause before rushing into a long-accepted classic. That potential for recalibration of expectations has saved many a book in the past…

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    • I love the covers for these books, Bold Venture have done an awesome job capturing the spirit of these stories. A moderate amount of back-and-forth was had over the choice of cover, and I think they’ve chosen superbly…so it’s boding well for your enjoyment, Brad 🙂

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  2. Thanks for the notification, and yes, the cover for this title looks sharp! I’ve just got my copy off Smashwords… Do please continue helping with releasing more mystery titles. 😀

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    • I have to acknowledge how lucky I got with these two in finding a publisher who was interested and getting involved. But I have really enjoyed it, even if I probably went in stamping on hard work being done by others in this area with my massive, clueless feet. If anything else comes about, I’ll be sure to keep you guys informed…

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