Posts Tagged ‘The Detection Club’

The Anatomy of Murder

This is a collection of essays covering seven crimes – all baffling in some way or another – written by seven of the Golden Age of crime writers including Dorothy L Sayers. One case is from Australia, one from New Zealand and one from France and the rest from the UK. I was particularly interested in the Wallace case as I haven’t read much about it before and Dorothy L Sayers clearly went into it in some detail.

The Rattenbury case was totally unknown to me and while I didn’t particularly appreciate Francis Isles’ (Anthony Berkeley)  comments on the nature of women I am sure his views were very common at the time and more common than many of us like to think in the twenty first century. He draws parallels between the Rattenbury case and that of the better known Thompson and Bywaters case.

I was interested to read about the famous French case – that of the serial murderer Landru – about which I knew nothing but the name.  It was also good to read about Adelaide Bartlett and I shall definitely be reading more about this case.  Many readers today will be familiar with the case of Constance Kent because of the book The Suspicions of Mr Wicher.   Overall this is a well written collection of long essays on seven real life crimes which their authors make just as enthralling as their own crime fiction.


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The Sinking Admiral

This is a collaborative novel written by fourteen members of The Detection Club.  The Admiral Byng is a pub on the Suffolk coast in the village of Crabwell.  The pub’s future seems to be limited because there just aren’t enough customers.  Currently the day to day activities of the pub are being filmed by a TV crew and has temporarily increased the number of customers all keen on their five minutes of fame.

Then the landlord – Geoffrey Horatio Fitzsimmons – also known to everyone as the Admiral – is found dead in his dinghy.  Is it suicide or is it murder?  The case is investigated by a couple of fairly incompetent detectives and a stubborn bar manager who is determined to get at the truth as she doesn’t believe it was suicide.  Naturally Amy – the bar manger – succeeds where the detectives fail.

I found this entertaining reading especially as I read it immediately after reading The Floating Admiral written by original members of the Detection Club.  I think having several different authors adds texture to the book as all of them have their own styles and particular quirks. If you want something different then try this modern collaborative who dome it.

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The Floating Admiral

Twelve writers belonging to the Detection Club got together to write a collaborative novel – and The Floating Admiral is the result.  A body is found floating in a boat.  He is known locally as the Admiral and hasn’t lived in the area very long.  He lives with his niece with whom he may or may not be in bad terms.  Inspector Rudge has his work cut out to find the murderer and at times he despairs of success.  Everyone seems to be lying to him and even the physical evidence doesn’t seem to add up.

I found this entertaining reading and enjoyed trying to work out what had happened and who was responsible for.  Does it work as a who done it?  Yes in my opinion and Anthony Berkeley’s solution is masterly.  Some of the other authors involved also offered possible solutions which some readers may favour.

If you want to try something different in crime fiction then this is worth a try.  There is also a modern collaborative novel called The Sinking Admiral written by modern members of the Detection Club which shows that even though crime fiction has a much wider range of sub genres today a collaboration can still work.

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Six Against the Yard

Six famous crime writers set out to commit the perfect murder and a former Scotland Yard detective – in real life – comments on whether he thinks the murders were incapable of detection.  I must admit to being as interested in the detectives comments as I was in the stories themselves as they were well written and show how much emphasis the police pay to small details which could well be overlooked by ordinary people and crime writers alike.

I thought the murders described were really gruesome and quite unlike the normal writing of all these authors.  However it is an entertaining book to read and I think all crime writers ought to read it to aid with the construction of their plots.

As well as the ‘perfect’ murders there is a short article by Agatha Christie with was originally published in 1929 about a real life arsenic poisoning case which was never solved. I found this an interesting book and would recommend it to all crime writing fans in spite of the fact that I have only given it four stars.  It loses one star because of the graphic descriptions of the murders which were not to my taste.

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Ask a Policeman

Lord Comstock is murdered in his country house.  There are plenty of suspects – Mills, his secretary; an Archbishop who had a loud altercation with him minutes before he died; the Parliamentary Chief Whip who had called to see him; and a commissioner of police who had also called to see him.  That’s not to mention the servants and any stranger who happened to be passing the gates of his house from which his open study window was visible.

John Rhode describes the initial crime and Helen Simpson, Gladys Mitchell, Dorothy L Sayers and Anthony Berkeley each propose a solution using each other’s detective characters. Milward Kennedy wraps it all up with yet another solution. In each version new facts are revealed as well as new red herrings.

In other hands this could have been an unfortunate mish-mash but these writers were masters of their craft and the result is entertaining and intriguing and has stood the test of time extremely well in my opinion.  It is good to see these entertaining books in print again and they are perfect reading for anyone who loves the Golden Age of Crime as well as being a good introduction for anyone who hasn’t read any books by these authors before.

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