A classic of legal detective fiction
Cyril Hare, the pseudonym of Alfred Alexander Gordon Clark, was born in Surrey in 1900 and practised law both in civil and criminal courts after being called to the Bar in 1924.
His first crime novel, Tenant for Death, was published in 1937 and introduced his first series character, Scotland Yard detective Inspector Mallett. But it is his fourth novel, Tragedy at Law (1942), which is widely regarded as his masterpiece, drawing as it did upon Hares own legal experience as a judges marshal on the circuit. The novel also marked the debut of his other popular series character, the lawyer Francis Pettigrew.
Hare wrote nine novels in total, as well as a number of short stories, and in recent years there has been much critical re-evaluation of his work. As well as his delightful witty touch and sense of character, Hares work is praised for its authentic legal detail. Julian Symons, for example, described Tragedy at Law as Outstanding among portraits of legal life in crime fiction, and Henry Cecil (also a judge who wrote bestselling crime fiction) said that Tragedy at Law was acknowledged by many lawyers to be "the classic detective story with a legal background".
In addition to his writing, Cyril Hare continued his career in law and from 1950 until his death in 1958 he worked as a county court judge in Surrey.
THE PAN CLASSIC CRIME SERIES The idea for the Pan Classic Crime series was sparked by two separate incidents - my struggle to find a new copy of MALICE AFORETHOUGHT by Francis Iles (one of my favourite crime novels), and a newspaper article about Eric Ambler which claimed that none of his novels was available in the UK. I then began six months of research to discover which other classics had shockingly been allowed to go out of print (concentrating particularly on novels published 1930-1960). And so the Pan Classic Crime series was born, launching in April 1999 with six titles - including two by Eric Ambler and, of course, MALICE AFORETHOUGHT.
Before my research began I must admit my knowledge of pre-1970s crime fiction was restricted to the giants - Doyle, Christie, Highsmith, Chandler. And I must admit, too, that I was hesitant about how well these 'lost treasures' would stand up to modern crime fiction. How wrong I was - the novels I read and am now publishing were remarkably sophisticated, skilful, innovative, insightful, and full of character and wit. I felt suitably ashamed for having doubted them!
By July this year we will have published 18 titles in the series. One of our aims has been introduce new readers to these authors and, with this in mind, each edition is introduced by a well-known crime writer of today. For example, Colin Dexter, P.D. James, Robert Goddard and Robert Harris have all contributed to the series. What pleased me the most was the phrase that popped up again and again in the letters that accompanied their introductions: 'I'd forgotten just how good they were!'
Also in the series
1) The Mask of Dimitrios by Eric Ambler With an introduction by Robert Harris
2) Malice Aforethought by Francis Iles With an introduction by Colin Dexter
3) The Beast Must Die by Nicholas Blake With an introduction by P.D. James
4) Journey Into Fear by Eric Ambler With an introduction by Robert Harris
5) Green for Danger by Christianna Brand With an introduction by Lindsey Davis
6) Love Lies Bleeding by Edmund Crispin With an introduction by Jonathan Gash
7) Before the Fact by Francis Iles With an introduction by Colin Dexter
8) Epitaph for a Spy by Eric Ambler With an introduction by Robert Harris
9) Tragedy at Law by Cyril Hare With an introduction by Frances Fyfield
10) Last Seen Wearing . . . by Hillary Waugh With an introduction by Reginald Hill
11) Cause for Alarm by Eric Ambler With an introduction by Robert Goddard
12) A Tangled Web by Nicholas Blake With an introduction by P.D. James
13) Buried for Pleasure by Edmund Crispin With an introduction by Jonathan Gash
14) Judgment on Deltchev by Eric Ambler With an introduction by Robert Goddard
15) My Name is Michael Sibley by John Bingham With an introduction by John le Carre
16) Passage of Arms by Eric Ambler With an introduction by Robert Goddard
17) Death of a Doll by Hilda Lawrence (pub July 2001) With an introduction by Minette Walters
18) Five Roundabouts to Heaven by John Bingham (pub July 2001) With an introduction by John le Carre
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.