The legendary book editor Maxwell Perkins died in Montmorillon on 17 June 1947. Perkins was responsible for launching the writing careers of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe. Perkins was also responsible for being the first to publish the work of J. P. Marquand, Erskine Childers, Alan Paton and James Jones. Through his connection with The Glass Key bookshop in the Cité de l’Ecrit Perkins had come to Montmorillon to try and add the crime writer Keith Dixon to his list. Dixon had a growing reputation with a number of self-published crime novels to his name and Perkins was hoping add him to his stable of published successes. Unfortunately his pneumonia caught up with him and he died before completing any deal.
Personally I would sue The Daily Telegraph for reporting that Second Wind by Dick Francis is a book of “excitement and sheer readability.” It is, to be frank, virtually unreadable as is Crossfire, a novel supposed to be written by Dick and his son Felix. Somehow, led astray by his wife and son, Dick Francis allowed them a bigger and bigger say in the content of his novels and they got worse and worse. But there is hope. After colluding at his own death Dick moved to Montmorillon and is set to write a horse racing blockbuster that will rival his early novels. Dick is a fan of The Glass Key bookshop because of the wide range of crime novels available there. He and my friend Keith Dixon, no mean crime writer on his own account, spend many a happy afternoon with a beer discussing the merits of Chandler, Hammett and Ross Macdonald. I think there may be hope for the old man yet (and for the younger one too!). Just imagine – Dick Francis and Sam Dyke – an explosive combination!