Monday, June 20, 2011

Ngaio judge reissues more thrillers

Last year I shared how British crime writer and renowned crime commentator Mike Ripley was part of a project to reissue classic British thriller fiction that had fallen from print and remembrance due not to its quality, but other vagaries of the world of publishing. Ripley is the author of the award-winning ‘Angel’ comic thrillers, co-editor of three Fresh Blood anthologies promoting new British crime writing and, for ten years, was the crime fiction critic of the Daily Telegraph. He is now well known for his great “Getting Away with Murder column” in Shots Ezine. He has also given his time to help recognise quality crime fiction from down this part of the world, as part of the judging panel for the Ngaio Marsh Awards for Best Crime Novel.

Ripley edits the Top Notch Thrillers series for Ostara Publishing, which re-issues titles that "have unjustifiably become unavailable either through the ravages of time or the forces of publishing economics". Ostara specialise in Crime and Thriller fiction titles and their range goes from the 1920s through to the 21st century. They publish thematically under several series, such as 'Cambridge Crime', 'Clerical Crime', and 'Medieval Mysteries'. Top Notch Thrillers was established in 2009 to revive Great British thrillers “which do not deserve to be forgotten”, using the latest print-on-demand technology and offering many titles as eBooks for the first time.

Next month, Top Notch Thrillers will reissue two great British thrillers from the early 1980’s, "both of which are fine examples of ‘flight and pursuit’ novels in the John Buchan tradition": ROGUE JUSTICE by Geoffrey Household and FUNERAL SITES by Jessica Mann. Here's what Ripley and Ostara have to say about their new releases:

"Geoffrey Household (1900-88), often seen as the natural successor to John Buchan, is rightly famous for his 1939 classic ROGUE MALE about an aristocratic English big game hunter’s failed attempt to assassinate Hitler and his subsequent fight for survival as the hunter becomes the hunted.

More than 40 years after that ground-breaking thriller, Geoffrey Household gave us the sequel, ROGUE JUSTICE, where the background to the previously anonymous ‘Rogue Male’ is revealed as he declares his own private war on Nazi Germany, blazing a blood-stained trail from Poland to Greece to dispense his own type of justice on the brutal ideology which has destroyed the Europe – and the woman – that he loved.

Not only is ROGUE JUSTICE a sustained, fast-moving action thriller, told with all Household’s usual skill when it comes to a pursuit over wild terrain and his self-depreciating humour, it is at heart a dark, nobly romantic but fatalistic love story. For the rogue hero this time, it is not a question of whether he will survive, but how he will choose to meet his death....

Jessica Mann is well-known as a broadcaster, journalist and crime-writer and is currently the crime fiction critic for the Literary Review. Her 1981 novel FUNERAL SITES is nothing less than an updated, feminist take on John Buchan’s famous tale of flight and pursuit, THE 39 STEPS, as the main character finds herself on the run from her politically ambitious (and murderous) brother-in-law. In a frenzied escape from a Swiss alp via London’s club land to a Cambridge hospital, she finds a lone ally in feisty archaeologist Tamara Hoyland, who was to become Jessica Mann’s series heroine, and the chase comes full circle in a dramatic showdown back in the Swiss mountains.

FUNERAL SITES is a frantic, breathlessly-paced chase thriller which puts a female stamp on what had seemed until then a very male preserve and whilst staying true to the form, the novel cheekily references the work of John Buchan – and indeed Geoffrey Household, another master of the genre.

Jessica Mann is the first woman to join the ranks of British authors reissued under the Top Notch Thriller imprint, who include: John Gardner, Victor Canning, Brian Callison, Duncan Kyle, Francis Clifford and Adam Hall."

Both books certainly sound quite interesting, and worthy additions to the Top Notch Thrillers canon that Ripley and Ostara are steadily building. By September 2011, there will be 20 Top Notch Thrillers available in print and (in many cases) electronic formats. They can be purchased through good bookshops or Amazon and via the Ostara website ( which contains much additional information of TNT books and authors.

Do you like reading crime and thriller novels from another era? What good and great out-of-print crime novels have you stumbled across in libraries, secondhand bookstores and elsewhere? What are some of your favourite out-of-print books that you think would still stand up well today? Comments welcome.

1 comment:

  1. Craig,

    I can think of several series that I've encountered in various places and which generally receive little recognition at present. I've noticed that occasionally a publisher will reissue an older series, so I don't know what the status of these is, but they are from a different era.

    WJ Burley--the Chief Inspector Wycliffe series

    Edmund Crispin--Prof Gervase Fen

    Arthur W. Upfield--Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte

    Alan Hunter--Inspector George Gently (discovered this on Mystery Theatre)