Someone from the Past by Margot Bennett

Someone from the Past by Margot Bennett was first published in 1958 but it was reprinted by  British Library in 2023. This book won the Crime Writers’ Association’s Award for the best crime novel of 1958, but it was the last crime novel that the Scottish author Margot Bennett wrote. The setting is mainly London.

Nancy had been enjoying a night out with Donald, it seems to be a special date, they’ve been on the champagne and all seems well, but they are interrupted by Sarah, a one time work colleague of Nancy’s, but Sarah had been somewhat closer to Donald in the past, he’s not enamoured with her at all now.

But Nancy agrees to help Sarah who has been receiving anonymous letters, threatening her death, the threat seems to come from a man in her past – but there have been so many of them. Before Nancy can do anything to help, Sarah is found dead and a bad decision by Nancy means that she is a suspect. It’s all a bit of a nightmare.

The blurb says: As the real killer uses the situation to their advantage, Bennett crafts a nuanced story through flashbacks to Sarah’s life and loves.

This is a good read although my favourite era for crime novels is the 1930s and 40s, don’t ask me why, they just seem more atmospheric.






3 thoughts on “Someone from the Past by Margot Bennett

  1. How did the British Library acquire the rights to this book? If it was published in 1958, and the author died in 1980, I would have thought that it was still under copyright.

    I’m surprised that the BL is publishing such recent material.

    • Janusz,
      I’m not at all sure but I think that if a book has been out of print for years and the author is dead then a publisher might contact the surviving family and arrange to buy the rights from them, or whoever was the beneficiary of the will. I would be happy if anyone could clarify that.

  2. Thank you for that insight. I didn’t occur to me that the copyright may have been transferred to Bennett’s family.

    I understand that the copyright rule-of-thumb is x number of years after the death of the author, and the value of x differs from country to country. That much I know, but I have no idea what happens when a publisher resurrects a public domain novel, asks someone to write an introduction, and then markets it with a new ISBN number. Likewise I have no idea why some century-old books on HathiTrust, or Google Books, or the Internet Archive are flagged as unavailable “for copyright reasons”.

    It’s all very puzzling.

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