Too Busy For Words - the PaulWay Blog

Fri 29th Apr, 2011

Edgar Wallace - The Green Rust

I've been reading ePub books on my Samsung Galaxy S almost since I got it, and it's been a Good Thing.

The screen is large enough to read text fairly quickly - a speed reader could easily scan each line in portrait mode without moving their eyes horizontally at all. Yet it's not too large to be uncomfortable to hold. The Alkido reader supplied is adequate but I prefer FBReader - with a nice serif font (although there's little evidence at all for it being more legible, it does render the italics of some of my books correctly - something I'd originally thought had been an error in the book encoding or the reader), its 'night-time' white-on-black mode, and its better organisation of my library.

Mostly the books I've picked up have been from Project Gutenberg, which my readers probably know well. As my views on 'strong' copyright are also fairly well known it would be otiose to relate them, but I see Project Gutenberg as proof that the doomsday scenarios of the 'strong' copyright lobby paint of the time after the copyright in a work expires - that either everyone will be copying it like crazy and making money out of it, or that it will mean obscurity and lack of recognition for the author - are baseless. Project Gutenberg makes these works available for free and by doing so the authors works are preserved and gain value by their availability, but without any one company profiting from the process. In fact, the 'strong' copyright arguments basically devolve to "but we won't be making any money from it", even though often they aren't anyway.

(Message to Disney: there are children growing up now who have no idea what Mickey Mouse is. Deal with it.)

Anyway, one of my finds was The Green Rust by Edgar Wallace, based on having found that two early Agatha Christie novels - The Mysterious Affair at Styles and Secret Adversary - were available, based on having read through A Study in Scarlet and looked up the subject "Detective and mystery stories". I'd link you to that search but for several badly thought-out reasons Project Gutenberg have decided that looking up a subject or author should have no well-formed, static URL.

Now, Edgar Wallace was a name I recognised from a different context. Many years ago Severed Heads released a track called "Dead Eyes Opened", originally released in 1984 but with a new dance remix in 1994 that became their only really mainstream hit. It borrows from Edgar Lustgarten's audio recording of the crime that I later found out was incongruously called The Crumbles Murders. In it, he says:

Then — I owe a debt here to Edgar Wallace, who edited the transcript of the Mahon trial — …

Yes, it's that Edgar Wallace. Not only a famous court reporter but also an author of many fiction novels, mostly detective and mystery stories, and as the part inventor of King Kong. And I have to say that his writing is quite enjoyable - not as old as Doyle's and with a touch of genre-savvy, and with a bit less reveal-everything-at-the-end compared to Christie. It's strange how these little synchronicities in life come about.

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