Thursday, 26 January 2012

Start 'Em Young!

Just received a book to review. A murder mystery set during the Second World War.  Thing is, it's for kids!*  Now, this is not a bad thing at all - I'm happy to read children's books, as long as they fit the criteria for my website; a crime mystery set in a historical period, anytime before the end of WW2.  I've enjoyed Caroline Lawrence's The Roman Mysteries, for instance.

But searching for other possible titles and series - on Netgalley.Com for example - it's actually hard to find others suitable.  Search "Juvenile Literature" and you get plenty of books to trawl through.  Add "Mystery" to the search engine and nowadays you get multiples of  "Teen Goth/ Vampire/ Supernatural" types.  Precious few real mystery novels!  I dare say I could read through the publishers blurb to uncover crime detection types ... but why should I?

The problem gets worse looking in "live" bookstores - they tend to group titles under "Children's Fiction" or "Juvenile Fiction".  Even searching Children's Books publishers takes quite a sorting system to uncover "proper" crime fiction.

Perhaps, publishers shy away from the concept of children being involved in crime - fictional or not - regardless of reality.  "What if, " do they say "such novels are accused of influencing their delicate little minds?"  Lets face it, the popular media are happy to grasp at links between violent films, computer games, music even table-top role playing games and inappropriately violent or criminal behaviour in our young inheritors.  Are book publishers wary at such a link and their publications?  If so, then surely they should look at their current eagerness to jump on the Teen Vampire Angst fashion which (I suspect) is nearing it's fall in popularity.

But let me return to my initial point - how can I discover other titles for children or teens which can be described as "historical crime fiction"?  They exist now, I'm certain, and they definitely existed before; look to the Nancy Drew mysteries, the Three Investigators series popularised by Alfred Hitchcock.  At a pinch I suppose you could include The Famous Five but I don't think they're quite "the thing" I'm looking for. 

Any ideas, folks?

* The book is The Ducking Stool by Gloria Morgan.

1 comment:

  1. Hadn't thought about it this way before Alan, but you are right--my childhood reading contained full series of mysteries: The Bobbsey Twins, then Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys (all contemporary then but verging on historical now LOL).

    My first thought would be to ask the children's librarian (if your local library still has one--many of our libraries here no longer have "specialty" librarians).

    Please keep us posted if you find anything...