In some, people were executed for crimes they did not commit; in others, murderers escaped unpunished. The climax of one of Berkeley’s novels was so shocking that when Alfred Hitchcock came to film it, even the legendary master of suspense, the man who would direct Psycho, lost his nerve.
In the 1930s, a group of very well-established British mystery writers decided to form a club; they christened it the Detection Club. Its members—among them Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Anthony Berkeley—are the main characters in Martin Edwards’s in-depth investigation into how the lives of these writers affected their novels’ plot lines and contributed to the mystery novel’s transformation during the Golden Age of detective fiction (roughly the period between the two World Wars).
- A fascinating look at how shifting social norms, politics, personal ethics, and world events during the Golden Age influenced its mystery writers and, in turn, their writing.
- Detailed examinations into headline-making crimes of the time and the members’ responses to them, such as Dorothy L. Sayers armchair investigation into the 1931 murder of Julia Wallace.
- Captivating biographies of the club’s members with several anecdotes to illustrate the ways in which each writer internalized the world around them.
- Many photos and scans of original documents are provided, including an Author Gallery in the front of the book and scans of the original Constitution and Rules of the Detection Club in the back.
Edwards, a writer of crime fiction himself and current archivist of the Detection Club, has done a superb job of documenting its origins. This is not a quick or light read; at 528 pages, Edwards has plenty of time to expound on the inner workings of the club and its members. However, the information provided is well worth making the effort. For readers with a keen interest in the subject matter, this book offers an invaluable glimpse into the minds of some of the best writers from the Golden Age of detective fiction.
Highly recommended for readers interested in the mystery novels and mystery writers of the 1920s and 30s.