For more than a year, I’ve only been able to hint at a very exciting project: the Library of Congress Crime Classics series! You may know that my dear friends Rob Rosenwald and Barbara Peters of Poisoned Pen Press have been publishing the British Library Crime Classics series here in the U.S. They conceived the idea of doing the same for American mystery fiction, with the Library of Congress as their partner, and I was deeply honored when Barbara and Rob asked me to serve as the Series Editor. In July 2018, we traveled to Washington to pitch the LOC on the idea, and to our great delight, the proposal was accepted. Now, after a year of work, the LOC has finally issued a press release here announcing the series: https://www.loc.gov/item/prn-19-091/library-of-congress-crime-classics-bring-new-life-to-american-suspense-in-publishing-collaboration-with-poisoned-pen-press/2019-09-18/
It’s been a pleasure debating the choice of titles. The first one is the legendary Anna Katharine Green’s That Affair Next Door (1897), a twisting mystery featuring the first-ever female series detective, Miss Amelia Butterworth. Others planned are much newer, and eventually we’ll span from the late nineteenth century to the 1960s. I’ve restrained myself from doing full-blown annotations for these books, but I hope my notes will enlighten some of the more obscure language and historical references. Each volume will have a short introduction about the book and its significance, as well as a short author biography, suggested additional reading, and discussion-group questions. It’s my fond hope that the series ends up being used in classes on mystery and literature. The books will be trade paperbacks, aimed at the largest possible audience.
These are “classics” in the best sense–important, but also eminently enjoyable. Look for the first volume in the Spring, with more to follow swiftly!