Archive for the ‘Edgar Wallace’ Category

I’ve uploaded the fifth Mirabelle Leicester (a.k.a. the Just Woman) book to Amazon Kindle. It should be available for purchase within 72 hours; or you can get the beta version for free on Wattpad.

The cover picture shows Isola Koskina: Wallace fans have met her before in Again the Three, in the story of the ‘Happy Travellers’. In The Sapphire the events of ‘The Happy Travellers’ occurred last year, and somehow or other Isola has escaped prison and is back in Italy, still plotting against the government.

The Sapphire black and whiteAnd here’s the blurb:

London, 1924. After the dramatic events of Four Days in October and the exciting General Election, the Three Just Men and One Woman intend to return to solving some of the other criminal cases crying out for their attention. Mirabelle and Leon have an Italian banking case to investigate which would take them away from England and the influence of the irrational and disruptive Maria of Gratz. It’s time to return to the sort of cases that made them famous! But Europe in 1924 is a dangerous place; perhaps they should stay in London and investigate a missing jewel — a valuable sapphire brooch that was given away to a notorious criminal. But as it happens, Mirabelle and Leon know the criminal …
The Sapphire continues the story of Four Days in October and The Woman of Gratz. It is based on the characters in Edgar Wallace’s thriller The Three Just Men (1924)


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After some problems following Amazon’s Cloud failure earlier this week, I’ve uploaded books 2 and 3 of ‘The Just Woman’ series to Amazon Kindle: these are the sequels to The Flat in Doughty Court. With echoes of the golden age of crime and thriller fiction, they don’t set out to be great literature. I wrote them as a fun read for myself, friends and family, and hope that other readers will enjoy them too.

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Maria of Gratz[3c]While we’re on the subject of my parodies of Edgar Wallace thrillers: I’m now revising the third in the series, hoping that my Amazon Kindle account will be repaired soon so that I can upload it. (The Amazon Kindle people are looking at it for me to work out why book two in the series won’t upload — it’s side-loaded on to Kindle readers but won’t upload on to KDP.) The third story in the series gets into some real history rather than the vaguely early 1920s background of The Flat at Doughty Court and The Girl from Heavytree Farm. Here’s the blurb:

Terrorism, violence, starvation and war threaten the world. Oppressive governments are springing up around the globe, led by unscrupulous men bent on world domination. On the streets of Britain men and women go about their lives in fear: of unemployment, poverty, terrorism and war. It seems that just a small spark of protest could set off a powder-keg of revolution.

It could be today: but it’s 1924.

Maria of Gratz, former leader of the Anarchist group the Red Hundred, has returned to London. It is now sixteen years since Maria and her Red Army brought terror to Britain, and only the Four Just Men were able to stop her. In revenge, Maria betrayed George Manfred, the Just Men’s leader – and fell in love with him.

George sent Maria away to seek a new life – but now she’s back, fleeing from the forces of law and order and her fellow terrorists. George seems to trust her, but his two colleagues Raymond Poiccart and Leon Gonsalez do not — and neither does Leon’s young wife Mirabelle Leicester. With the British economy in crisis and the General Strike just over the horizon, Maria’s rabble-rousing skills look set to stir up revolution in the streets and disaster for the country. Can Raymond, Leon and Mirabelle stop Maria from destroying Britain, and their leader George?

The story ends with the famous Zinoviev letter, which was published four days before the British General Election in October 1924 and arguably led to the defeat of the Labour Government (Wikipedia gives a summary of it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zinoviev_letter ) But the letter was a forgery — so who forged it? And why? Along with car chases, intrigue and shoot-outs, The Woman of Gratz presents an explanation to this historical mystery.

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…as the BBC announcers used to say, before the Monty Python mob took over the catchphrase and made it a humorous punchline. In the case of this blog, the ‘something completely different’ is a complete turnaround from dark historical fantasy to something light weight, bubbly and optimistic, suitable for springtime, which I wrote about in a long-ago post: Mirabelle Leicester in a fast car.

The Flat cover 2.

Cover for ‘The Flat at Doughty Court’.

Back in 2012 I wrote some parodies of Edgar Wallace thrillers, based around the characters in Edgar Wallace’s ‘The Four Just Men’ stories — with Mirabelle Leicester, the heroine of The Three Just Men (1924), coming in as the replacement fourth just man. The first in the series is The Flat in Doughty Court, which readers of The Three Just Men may remember is the London flat where the impecunious Mirabelle and her Aunt Alma stay when they’re in London. I’ve just uploaded the story on to Amazon Kindle. Here is the cover. You can also download a pdf of the story from this blog: https://helenlerewth.wordpress.com/2013/11/26/the-flat-in-doughty-court/.

Meanwhile, my beta-reader is going to read The Retrogradus and send me some comments. She is still reading The Most Dangerous Woman in the Galaxy, and seems to be in no hurry to finish it because she’s enjoying it too much (which is lovely but means I haven’t had her detailed feedback yet!)

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It is interesting how long it takes a writer’s brain to recover from enormous stress. The day job didn’t kill me last year, but when I reached the end of my term in that enormous administrative responsibility I had been carrying for the past three years, my brain was no longer in any state to write anything.

Since then I have started writing professionally again, slowly and uncertainly. The famous style is taking a long time to recover. I hope that my fans and reviewers will not be disappointed by the current book, which certainly isn’t flowing in the same way as previous books.

As for the fiction that I used to write in order to relax: I have started going through my almost-completed work.

The Ballad of Julie Smythe needs a thorough re-write of the middle chapters, and a new cover.
Kimball’s Kiss: I promised to rewrite it to take out the sex, but what is Gray Bradley without sex? It could be improved with some repackaging: such as a new cover. Honestly, folks, the sex is intended to be for fun … you needn’t get so up-tight about it. Gray himself never takes it seriously. (Perhaps I should make that clear in the book’s online description?)
Sophie Walker (the sequel to Kimball’s Kiss): is written but not yet on Amazon because I was going to try to smooth it down. It needs a polish but I might leave the sex in. The hero is ‘mad, bad and sometimes extremely silly.’ The point of the story? ‘Just for once, let’s have the hero winning the galactic empire by seducing people rather than killing them.’
And what about The Just Woman books? I have not yet put them on Amazon. They are so different from the Gray books that they could use another pseudonym … hmm. I’ve run out of pseudonyms. In any case, a re-read tells me that they are clunky, wordy and pedantic. A polish is in order before they go anywhere.

And that’s the lot. Looking at the above, the first thing I need to get on to is designing some new covers.

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2014 did not go quite as I’d hoped for: after the start of May, the day job expanded so much that I had no time or energy for my own writing, not even in November for NaNoWriMo! I still have the four ‘Just Woman’ stories waiting for a final revision and uploading to Amazon. Then there is a question of whether I should take down some of my books that are currently on Amazon and repackage them, as Kimball’s Kiss and Gray Matters are looking a bit tired three years on (and how many modern printed books remain in print for over three years?) Meanwhile, my friend’s ‘Rheged’ series is expanding: her latest exciting addition is The Sun Goddess and the Moon God, another unputdownable adventure story set in 6th-century Britain. But her day job is also very demanding in time and energy, and her stories haven’t got beyond the beta-reader (me). So there is lots going on at this desk at the start of 2015; I hope that this year things will move off the desk and into the wider world!

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Larry Loman cover

The cover, from Amazon.co.uk

Edgar Wallace wrote a lot of books, and even more short stories. I have bookshelves full of them, and more on my Kindle, and there are even more that I’ve borrowed from the library and don’t own myself. ‘Edgar Wallace’ was a pen-name, but he also wrote under other pen-names — and as he wrote for many, many magazines in many different genres during the first three decades of the twentieth century there are probably many, many of his stories still to be discovered.
But it’s always nice to find an unexpected book by a favourite author, so I was delighted to discover a few days ago that Pearl Necklace Books have just made another one available. The Strange Lapses of Larry Loman is a collection of three short stories first published in The Grand Magazine in 1917, and republished in The Popular Magazine in 1918. The premise of the stories is intriguing: Larry Loman is a detective who suffers lapses of memory at crucial moments, so that half way through a case he has a memory blackout and ‘comes to himself’ some hours later. When he comes to, he finds himself in some embarrassing or very strange situation, and the rest of the story is spent explaining how he got there.
It’s a clever idea, and we can imagine Wallace and his friends working out situations for Larry to be in, and then trying to work out how he could have got there — and how he gets out again. But it’s frustrating for the reader, who feels that s/he has been cheated of the excitement of the story: we find out the outcome but miss the adventure. So although the stories are fun, it’s not surprising that after the 1918 reprint Wallace seems to have dropped this plot device: I certainly don’t know of any other examples in his vast canon.
The volume also contains two other full-length stories, Angel Esquire (1908) and A Debt Discharged (1916), both of which will already be familiar to fans.
The Strange Lapses of Larry Loman and Other Mystery Tales is available via Amazon.co.uk for £0.77 and Amazon.com for $1.29. Excellent value.

(By the way, the nearest thing I know to a complete list of Edgar Wallace’s works is the list produced by Roy Glashan, here.)

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