Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Dickensian Crime

I’ve received my copy of a chunky short story collection, The Mammoth Book of Dickensian Whodunits, edited by the amazingly prolific Mike Ashley. I contributed a story, ‘The Mystery of Canute Villa’, in which Dickens joins Elizabeth Gaskell in investigating a mystery in Knutsford, aka Cranford.

I was born in Knutsford and thought it would be fun to set a story in the town. It’s a fascinating and historic place, well worth a visit, not only for the Gaskell associations, but also because of the weird and intriguing Italianate architecture of some of the buildings.

As for the Dickensian Whodunits, there’s some great stuff in there from authors I admire, including Robert Barnard, Gillian Linscott and Kate Ellis. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the stories.

Oddly enough, this is the second Dickensian collection to include a story of mine. A few years ago, Anne Perry put together Death by Dickens. That time I teamed Dickens up with Wilkie Collins in ‘The House of the Red Candle’. This was a sort of locked room/impossible crime story which later made it into Maxim Jakubowski’s Best British Mysteries.

One of the attractions of writing short stories to an editor’s theme is that you can quickly work out a framework. With a historical mystery, it’s then a matter of capturing the essence of the period, as well as of the characters. More about this another day.


Lourdes said...

Good luck on your blog! It's always interesting to me to hear about the writing process. And I'll have to look for the Dickensian Whodunits.

Pauline Rowson said...

Amy Myers, another great crime writer and my mentor and editor, has also written for this book. She wrote a short story along with you in a book my husband was reading the other night:The Mammoth Book of New Sherlock Holmes Adventures. I too like Andrew Taylor's novels (though I have to say not all of them) and am a GREAT fan of Robert Barnard.