It is a sad truth that – as much as we would like to – the Library simply can’t keep a copy of every wonderful book ever published. Considerations such as shelf space and budget certainly play a role, but so does the availability of a book (i.e. if it goes out of print) and the “popularity” of a writer. The latter is particularly hard to take when a once favorite author gets left behind in the wake of shiny new titles and changes in publishing trends.
So imagine my happiness to have two old favorites back on our shelves! The first is A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh, the book that kicks off the series featuring gentleman detective Roderick Alleyn. These days, some may be more familiar with her detective from the “Inspector Alleyn” miniseries (available on DVD at the Library) which are based on Marsh’s books. Marsh is one of the classic writers from the “Golden Age” of British detective fiction (think Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers) and the title was reissued by the funky Felony & Mayhem Press.
The second old friend to return is The King Must Die by Mary Renault. This rich novel is a plausible recreation of what might have really happened to inspire the myth of Theseus (particularly the legend of the Minotaur). I remember staying up late at night to finish it, and then years later buying my own copies of all Mary Renault’s titles so I can enjoy them whenever I want to. (They fall into my “dangerous to dust” category of books, i.e. it’s a challenge for me to dust them without wanting to immediately stop the housework and start rereading them all over again!) I think Renault will appeal to anyone who enjoys historical novels with rich characterization, adventure and an evocative sense of place.