Thomas Perry believes that the chase story has a primal fascination for humans. “It’s simply hard-wired into all our brains,” he says. “We recognize it, we think about it, we even dream about it. When some vari- ant of this story is told properly, we are immediately interested, and we are very receptive to each trick the runner uses, each tactic, each event in the story.”
No one rings the changes on this theme with more skill, imagination, and narrative daring than Perry in his Jane Whitefield novels. If you haven’t already, go on the lam with Jane—it’s aerobic reading. Elizabeth Hand’s two Cass Neary novels about a perpetually stoned, self-destructive, kind of despicable but kind of charismatic, burned-out former punk have got a lot of people talking. I’m a big fan and so is Art Taylor who has contributed an essay in this issue. Paul Doiron has a fascinating conversation with Hand in which she cites Kem Nunn’s Tapping the Source as an influence. I can see that, she’s that good.
At the other end of the crime fiction spectrum are the charmingly whimsical Homer Kelly mysteries by Jane Langton. As the author says in her interview with Brian Skupin, her interests became those of her Harvard professor/sleuth, including Transcendentalism, Charles Darwin, Emily Dickinson, and much more. The new ebook editions of her mysteries contain the delightful pen-and-ink drawings that recent reprints have failed to include.
Another character who went through life with zest is writer Anthony Shaffer. In this issue, Joseph Goodrich takes stock of the playwright’s various accomplishments, including: the wildly successful play, Sleuth, which has been filmed twice; various novels, including two mysteries with his twin brother Peter Shaffer of Amadeus and Equus fame; many screen adaptations (Death on the Nile, Frenzy, etc.) and what seems to have been a vastly entertain- ing social life. (Don’t miss his account of dinner with Agatha Christie on page 40.)
Martin Edwards has fond memories of his friend and mentor Reginald Hill, author of the Dalziel and Pascoe novels. As Edwards so rightly notes, Hill, who died earlier this year, was a towering figure on the British crime scene for the past half century. There’s lots more in this issue, we hope you enjoy it!