Martin Edwards (author)

Martin Edwards (born 7 July 1955), whose full name is Kenneth Martin Edwards, is a British crime novelist, critic and solicitor.

Martin Edwards was born in Knutsford and educated in Cheshire (at Sir John Deane’s Grammar School, where one of his teachers was Robert Westall, who later became a successful children’s author) and at Balliol College, Oxford University, where he took a first class honours degree in Jurisprudence in 1977. He qualified as a solicitor in 1980 and joined the firm of Mace & Jones, where he became a partner in 1984, and head of employment law in 1990, becoming chair of the employment law practice in 2011, when the firm merged with Weightmans LLP. After spending three years with Weightmans as a partner, he is now a consultant. In 1988, he married Helena Shanks and they have two children, Jonathan and Catherine.[citation needed]

“Martin Edwards has earned distinction in every area of the crime-fiction field”, said Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in July 2016. His first novel, All the Lonely People, introduced Liverpool lawyer Harry Devlin and was published in 1991, earning a nomination for the John Creasey Memorial Dagger for best first crime novel of the year. In 2012 the book was republished by Arcturus in its series of Crime Classics waterproof case for, while Yesterday’s Papers was reissued as an Arcturus Crime Classic in 2013. To date, Edwards has written eight novels about Devlin; the most recent is Waterloo Sunset. The Coffin Trail was the first of seven books set in the Lake District (The Lake District Mysteries) featuring Detective Chief Inspector Hannah Scarlett and historian Daniel Kind; it was short-listed for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Award for best crime novel of 2006. The Arsenic Labyrinth was short-listed for the Lakeland Book of the Year Award in 2008. The Hanging Wood was long-listed for both the Audible Sounds of Crime Award and the Ebook Award at Crimefest 2012. Edwards has also written a stand-alone novel of psychological suspense, Take My Breath Away, and completed The Lazarus Widow by the late Bill Knox. 2008 also saw the publication of his first historical novel, Dancing for the Hangman, a fictional account of the life and misadventures of Hawley Harvey Crippen.

Edwards has written over 60 short stories, which have appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies, and he has edited the Crime Writers‘ Association’s annual crime anthology since 1996. His early stories were collected in Where Do You Find Your Ideas? and other stories, which had an introduction by Reginald Hill. In 2017 his story ‘Murder and its Motives’ was longlisted for the CWA Short Story Dagger. ‘Test Drive’ was short-listed for the Crime Writers‘ Association Dagger for best short story in 2005. Edwards won the award for best short story in 2008 with ‚The Bookbinder’s Apprentice.‘ In 2014, he was the inaugural winner of the CWA Margery Allingham Prize for his story ‘Acknowledgments.’

Edwards was a founder member of the Northern Chapter of the Crime Writers‘ Association and of the Murder Squad collective of crime writers. He became Vice Chair of the CWA in 2015, having previously spent ten years as chair of the Association’s CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger Award sub-committee, and became Chair of the CWA in 2017. In 2007, Edwards was appointed Archivist of the Crime Writers‘ Association, and in 2011 the CWA gave him a Red Herring Award in recognition of his services to the Association. In 2008, he was elected to membership of The Detection Club and in 2011 he was appointed its first archivist. Four years later in 2015 he became the eighth president of the Club, succeeding Simon Brett. He is the only person to have held the offices of President of the Detection Club and Chair of the CWA at the same time.[citation needed]

There has been increasing critical interest in and appreciation of Edwards‘ work, and his skill in marrying people and place with plot. In 2012, new ebook and print editions of the early Harry Devlin novels were published, including introductions by writers such as Val McDermid, Peter Lovesey, Andrew Taylor and Frances Fyfield. In her foreword to All the Lonely People, Fyfield said: „What distinguishes this book and those that follow and what makes them classics of a kind is this marvellous quality of compassion and the celebration of all that is heroic in the corrupted ordinary.“ In The Mammoth Encyclopaedia of Modern Crime Fiction, Mike Ashley noted that the author’s legal knowledge ‚provides a solid reliability to the Devlin books, but their strength lies in the evocation of Liverpool both past and present‘. Similarly, Russell James noted in Great British Fictional Detectives that the Devlin books ‚are all solid and well-informed‘. In Scene of the Crime, Julian Earwaker and Kathleen Becker described the Devlin series as ‚a blend of classic detection and urban noir‘, pointing out that ‚The bleaker tones of the early books…are superseded by the lighter tone and more complex plotting of the later novels.‘ In Whodunit?, Rosemary Herbert said that ‚Edwards rapidly made a name for himself as a writer whose law expertise informs fiction set in a well-drawn Liverpool…Edwards‘ work as an anthologist is highly regarded hydration systems for runners.‘ In Crime Scene: Britain and Ireland, John Martin said that Edwards has „written two superbly crafted series of crime novels…intricately plotted with subtle twists and turns.“ Professor Douglas G. Greene, a leading expert on the genre writing in the magazine CADS, described Edwards as “a major detective novelist who has combined Golden Age trickiness in plotting with modern darkness in the telling.”

In Brit Noir, Barry Forshaw said: “He is one of the UK’s premier crime fiction anthologists, as well as being a noted expert on the Golden Age…Edwards’ own two crime fiction series…have proved to be both critically and commercially successful…such books as Yesterday’s Papers offer both the diversions of crime fiction and scene-setting of a high order… The Dungeon House, the most recent in the Lake District series at the time of writing, sports Edwards’ usual expertise.”

In British Crime Writing: an encyclopaedia, Michael Jecks described him as ‚a writer of imagination and flair‘ and as possessing ‚a rare skill for acute description‘. In the same volume, Philip Scowcroft praised Edwards‘ books set in the Lakes ‚which he describes idiomatically and evocatively in a series of well-plotted mysteries‘. Jecks summed him up as ‚a crime writer’s crime writer. His plotting is as subtle as any; his writing deft and fluid; his characterisation precise, and his descriptions of the locations give the reader the impression that they could almost walk along the land blindfolded. He brings them all to life.‘

Martin Edwards is widely recognised as a leading authority on the crime fiction genre. He is the author of The Golden Age of Murder, a widely acclaimed study of the genre between the two world wars. The book won an Edgar award from the Mystery Writers of America, an Agatha award at Malice Domestic 28, and the Macavity award from Mystery Readers International; in the UK, it won an H.R.F. Keating award at Crimefest. The book was also shortlisted for an Anthony award by Bouchercon 2016, and the CWA Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction. Marcel Berlins said in The Times: ‘Few, if any books about crime fiction have provided so much information and insight so enthusiastically and, for the reader, so enjoyably. No other work mixes genre history, literary analysis and fascinating author biographies with such relish’. For The Guardian, Mark Lawson said it was ‘a book of impressive cultural omniscience…superbly compendious and entertaining’. Michael Dirda said in The Washington Post that ‘Anyone who loves classic English mysteries from the 1920s through the ’40s will revel in the highly anecdotal The Golden Age of Murder.’

He has reviewed crime novels for various publications and websites since 1987 and has written columns for print and online magazines such as Sherlock and Bookdagger. He has contributed essays to a wide range of reference books about the genre, including The Oxford Companion to Crime and Mystery Writing. He has written introductions to new editions of a wide range of books, including The Red Right Hand by Joel Townsley Rogers and novels in the Chivers Black Dagger Series such as The Man Who Didn’t Fly by Margot Bennett and Cornell Woolrich’s The Bride Wore Black. In 2014, he was appointed Series Consultant to the British Library’s highly successful Crime Classics series.

He has written introductions to most of the books published in the series, as well as for several of the books published in the British Library’s Classic Thrillers series. He has been commissioned to edit and introduce ten anthologies of classic crime short stories for the series. In 2016, he was commissioned to write a new solution to Anthony Berkeley’s classic whodunit The Poisoned Chocolates Case and in 2017, the British Library published his The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books, which in a starred review, Publishers’ Weekly described as ‚pan exemplary reference book sure to lead readers to gems of mystery and detective fiction‘.

In 2017, he received the Poirot Award at Malice Domestic 29, in recognition of his contribution to the traditional mystery genre. Writing in the Malice Domestic programme, Professor Douglas G. Greene surveyed his career and concluded: „Martin Edwards’ contributions to detective fiction, and to writing about detective fiction, have indeed been outstanding“.

Edwards has also written extensively on the subject of true crime. In addition to his study of real life crime investigation and famous cases, Urge to Kill, he has edited Truly Criminal, a CWA anthology of essays published by The Mystery Press in 2015. Edwards’ essay in the book discusses the ‘Blazing Car’ murder for which Alfred Rouse was hanged in 1931.

Edwards has written many articles and been a legal columnist for a wide range of publications including The Expatriate, Social Services Insight, and The Law Society’s Gazette

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, as well as leader writer for The Solicitors’ Journal for eighteen months in the 1990s. He has published seven books on equal opportunities, employment law and other legal subjects. In addition to his work for employers, he has throughout his career acted for many employees, and also for organisations such as the Equal Opportunities Commission, acting as the advocate for victims of pregnancy discrimination in two major cases: Lavery v Plessey Telecommunications Ltd [1982] ICR 373 and Fewster v Ferry Casinos Ltd (1999) UKEAT 408. Originally, he established distinct reputations in the fields of employment law and commercial law; his first published book concerned legal aspects of business computer acquisition, and in 1985 he acted as legal adviser to the makers of the feature film Letter to Brezhnev. Since 1990, he has specialised solely in employment law. He was a founder member of the Law Society’s Standing Committee on Employment Law and he was also a member of the Law Society’s Working Party on Alternative Dispute Resolution. He regularly receives high rankings in independent legal directories such as The Legal 500 and Chambers Directory UK. He was described in 2007, for instance, in the former as ‚one of the leading employment lawyers in the country‘, and in the latter as ‚Mr. Employment‘. In 2011, Chambers said he is ‚admired for his legendary technical ability‘, and added in 2012 that he has been ‚roundly praised‘ for his „undoubted expertise, wealth of experience, interpersonal skills and calm approach at difficult times.“ The 2013 editions of the directories rated him as “highly recommended” and a “top drawer” employment lawyer respectively. In 2014, Chambers said he “is renowned for his expertise in the field and technical proficiency” and ranked him as Liverpool’s only Band I specialist employment lawyer, a ranking he retained in 2015, when he was again recommended by Chambers In 2016, The Legal 500 described him as “first class”. He was again recognised as one of the leading lawyers in his field in the 2017 directory of Chambers, which described him as „a fantastic employment lawyer“.

He has acted for many high-profile clients, including the Football Association, Wembley Stadium, Alder Hey Hospital, Health and Safety Executive, Liverpool Football Club, Shell UK Ltd, North West Development Agency, North West Regional Assembly, Littlewoods Pools Ltd, Littlewoods PLC, the Forum of Private Business, Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, Merseyside Police Authority and National Museums Liverpool. In 2008, he was included in EN Magazine’s list of the top 50 professional advisers in the North West and was also short-listed for the Insider Professional Liverpool Lawyer of the Year award, while in 2011 he was shortlisted by thebusinessdesk.com for an award for the leading North West professional adviser. In 2007 and 2011 his team won the bi-annual Liverpool Law Society Employment Team of the Year Award, and the team has also twice been short-listed for the national employment law team of the year award by „The Lawyer“ magazine. He has regularly been selected for inclusion in Best Lawyers in the United Kingdom, most recently in 2016.