In my previous blog I wondered if ebooks would herald a resurgence in the publication of short stories and novellas. What I hadn’t fully realised was the extent to which it is already far easier to get hold of collections of short stories that in the past have been very hard to find or prohibitively expensive. A case in point is Michael Gilbert’s Game Without Rules, a collection of stories featuring two ruthless MI5 agents, Mr Calder and Mr Behrens. The last time I looked online this was expensive: if you want a print copy it is £24.45 plus postage. However I have just bought it as an ebook from House of Stratus for £6.17. Another collection of Gilbert’s short stories, Stay of Execution, is a swingeing £212.68 plus postage from the US and that also is available as an ebook from House of Stratus for £6.17. I prefer a hard copy if I think I’ll want to read something more than once, but not at those prices. So when I found that a second-hand paperback copy of Gilbert’s Petrella at Q, is available for £2.75 plus postage, that’s what I went for. Gilbert’s Anything for a Quiet Life was available fron House of Stratus also for £6.17 as an ebook or in this case £8.03 as a new paperback. I went for the paperback. By now I was on something of a roll. There was an article in the most recent edition of CADS (Crime and Detective Stories) about Roy Vickers, writer of the Department of Dead Ends stories, some of which I’ve got in a dear old battered green Penguin. I wondered if more were available. Yes, in an ebook entitled Murder Will Out, available from Bellos at £3.17. That’s now on my ereader. I do buy recent novels too from real bookshops. Last week-end I bought Michael Connolly’s The Black Box and Keith B. Miller’s Norwegian by Night from Waterstone’s. How typical my buying habits are, I don’t know. But I do know that my youthful self who thrilled to the chase, tracking down copies of long out-of-print books in dusty second-hand bookshops, would be amaazed that they can be downloaded in seconds at the click of a mouse. Yes, a lot has been gained, but maybe something has been lost, too.
CADS stands for a periodical called Crime and Detective Stories, ‘an irregular magazine of comment and criticism about crime and detective stories,’ to use the editor’s own words. It arrives through my letter-box around twice a year and and as I never know when it is going to appear, it always comes as a pleasant surprise. There is nothing quite like it. It is not glossy, there are hardly any illustrations, and I love it. The current issue contains articles on Hilda Lawrence, Georgette Heyer, Sherlock Holmes and the bankers, crime stories featuring Christmas and the New Year, Anthony Gilbert (a favourite of my mother’s) and much, much more. Ever heard of the crime thrillers of T. Arthur Plummer? Me neither until the current CADS. It is written by afficionados for afficionados. Contemporary crime fiction isn’t neglected. There are reviews of new fiction, and once a year there is a round-up of the year’s highlights, and there is an interview with a contemporary crime writer on the back page. But the emphasis is on writers of the past and no-one is too long-forgotten or obscure to be thought worthy of mention.
It has been going for twenty-five years, published and edited by Geoff Bradley, a true labour of love if ever there was one. I discovered a copy in Murder One bookshop a few years ago and wish I’d found it sooner. I’ve been a subscriber for around five years now and it couldn’t be simpler. You join the mailing list and with the magazine comes a form for ordering the next issue which you send back with payment for the current one (only £5.75 including postage at present. It really is a bargain). Long may CADS – and Geoff – flourish. If you want your own copy write to him at 9 Vicarage Hill, South Benfleet, Essex, SS7 1PA.