I finally got around to reading a delightful short novel that is probably best known not for its plot but for its authors. The book is called "The Scoop," and it was written by Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, E. C. Bentley, Anthony Berkeley, Freeman Wills Crofts and Clemence Dane. All were among the earliest members of Britain's prestigious Detection Club.
"The Scoop" was first published as a serial in a BBC publication in 1931. The premise was simple: each of the authors would write a chapter of a murder mystery...then, when the chapter was complete, it would be passed along to the next author, who would have to carry the story along from that point.
As a result, each chapter ends with a cliff-hanger or a sudden twist, which the following author must use as a starting point - or, at least, incorporate into the story. As an example: much is made early in the story about the fact that the murder weapon is missing. At the end of one chapter, author E. C. Bentley announces, dramatically, that the weapon has been found. It was then up to the author of the next chapter, Agatha Christie, to decide where, when, why and how the weapon had been found - and then move the story along.
The result, of course, is a remarkably good-humored book, as each author tries to top the preceding author or stump the next one. I suppose it's rather amazing that, in only twelve chapters, these six writers managed to produce a coherent (if not always clearly logical) mystery.
"The Scoop" has long been out of print; there was a paperback edition with another of the Detection Club's serial novels, "Behind the Screen," published in 1984. I'd suggest talking to your favorite mystery bookseller to see if he or she can find an inexpensive copy for you. With this notable group of authors playfully interacting with each other, it's realy a fascinating read.