Settling Scores, Edited by Martin Edwards – Review
By Sarah Morgan
I’ve been accused of living in the past, of spending far too much time reading tales from the golden age of crime – but when there’s a seemingly endless supply of them to catch up on and they are, by and large, so fabulously entertaining, how could I possibly stop?
I blame the British Library anyway. Although I’ve been an Agatha Christie fan from an early age, the institution’s publishing arm is responsible for repackaging a number of forgotten tales from authors whose names might otherwise be lost forever, and launching them on 21st century readers.
The latest I’ve been dipping into is Settling Scores, a selection of sporting mysteries – with much of live sport currently on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s probably the closest I’ll get (and I am a fan, particularly of football) to actual games and events for a while.
Some of the tales are a little more modern than we’ve grown accustomed to – they’re organised chronologically, beginning in 1894 but with the last being first published as late as 1976, long after what is generally recognised as that aforementioned golden age.
Not that it really matters – each entry is entertaining, and that’s the main thing, and as ever, genre expert Martin Edwards has penned an informative introduction to the collection.
Some observers may argue that the final tale, ‘Dangerous Sport’ by Celia Fremlin, has only the most tenuous link to sport of some kind, and they’d be right, although the two main characters are playing with each other in a way – they are having an affair and trying to see what they can get away with.
The rest, however, have sport central to their plots, from the missing tennis star in Julian Symons’ ‘Wimbledon Mystery’, to the intriguing poisoning in Bernard Newman’s ‘Death at the Wicket’ and an incriminating theft in ‘The Football Photograph’ by HC Bailey.
What I always find particularly rewarding about such collections is that they tend to introduce readers to authors they might never previously have heard of who may become their new favourite. It’s then possible to track down their other works (possibly some appear in other British Library editions), keeping their output alive for a new generation.
‘Settling Scores – Sporting Mysteries’ edited by Martin Edwards is published by the British Library, £8.99 paperback