Canelo imprint Abandoned Bookshop is on a quest to locate the surviving relatives of crime author Clifton Robbins as it prepares to republish two of his books which have been out of print for over 80 years.
First published with "huge success" in the early 1930s by Ernest Benn, but unavailable since then, Dusty Death and The Man Without a Face are the first of five novels by Clifton Robbins featuring Clay Harrison, a London barrister-turned-detective, and his clerk, Henry.
According to the publisher "little is known" about Robbins. He appears to have been born in 1890, in London, studied at Cambridge and worked as a journalist. He wrote nine novels between 1931 and 1940, but none of the books were ever reprinted and he had nothing published after that date. Some records suggest Robbins died in 1944, others in 1964, but "numerous enquiries, requests and years of research have yet to reveal any living descendants," the publisher said.
Co-founder and publisher on Abandoned Bookshop, Scott Pack, said: “I stumbled across my first Clifton Robbins book in a secondhand bookshop nearly 20 years ago and have spent almost as long trying to track down the author or his family. His novels, although very much of their time, are wonderful crime capers with a detective, in Clay Harrison, every bit as compelling as Lord Peter Wimsey or Paul Temple. I am sure modern readers will take to him, and his sidekick, Henry.”
Pack said all royalties from sales of the books will be kept aside in the hope that a relative of Clifton Robbins will come forward to claim them.
Canelo is a digital-only publisher founded by former Profile digital publisher Michael Bhaskar, along with Iain Millar and Nick Barreto, formerly of Quercus, in January 2015.
Dusty Death and The Man Without a Face were published as e-books today (22nd August).
In Dusty Death, a mysterious supposed suicide in a London suburb sets Harrison on the trail of a drugs cartel and leads all the way to the League of Nations in Geneva. In The Man Without a Face, Harrison and Henry attend a pageant at a stately home only to witness, and then be called upon to solve, a murder.