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    « "The Case of the Constant Suicides" | Main | Recommending More Carr Books »

    March 04, 2011

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    Yvette

    Thanks for posting this, Les. I read the essay and I tend to agree that some worthwhile Golden Age authors have been overlooked. I do remember reading Freeman Wills Croft many years ago, I enjoyed those books. And I may have read one other author mentioned in the essay. Austin Freeman, maybe. But these are not books that transformed the genre in any way for me. In other words, these don't sound like books that would give me what I am looking for when I read a book from that era.

    I feel some resentment in Evans' criticism of the very idea that four women (I've never read Allingham or if I did, not enough to make her a favorite)are held in such high esteem today, while lessor known male authors are languishing unread and forgotten. Sometimes history doesn't play fair. And once in a while (not often), women will take precedence over men. Them's the breaks.

    If male writers of the time were writing books as good as Christie or the other Crime Queens, don't you think they would have been remembered and held in as high esteem? There's something in Christie, especially, that causes her work to be loved and valued even after all these years. As far as popularity goes, the only male I can compare her to is, of course, Arthur Conan Doyle, and he was not exactly a Golden Ager.

    If all these men that Evans writes about were THAT good, the work might not have gone out of print. If they had created characters and situations which readers had wanted to read over and over again, visit over and over again, then their work would still be read today.

    And another thing: if the work these men were doing was so influential - where's the effect of their influence? Where are their heirs?

    Les Blatt

    You raise several points, Yvette. First, I think what Evans is saying is that it is wrong to define the Golden Age EXCLUSIVELY in terms of those four writers. I think readers of this site know that I have nothing but admiration for all four of the queens. (By the way, try Allingham's "Flowers for the Judge," a beautifully written "impossible crime" story with an absolutely perfect ending.) But they were not the only writers. As Evans said, many of the "deposed kings" were MORE popular at the time than the queens.

    As for influence, consider, for example, R. Austin Freeman. He not only wrote the Dr. Thorndyke books, which really attempted to bring modern science to bear on criminal cases long before forensic science was more than a rudimentary idea. He also created the "inverted detective" story, in which the reader knows the criminal at the outset - often watches the crime being committed - and then watches the detective investigate and build his/her case. Successors? Ever watch "Colombo"? Those are all inverted detective stories - again, a genre created by Freeman.

    Even the queens were influenced by these other writers. Remember the Sayers book (I can't think of the title offhand) which hinges on rail timetables? That's a Freeman Wills Crofts specialty.

    Am I saying they were better than the queens? No. But I reread many of them today, with great enjoyment (particularly since I can rarely remember their outcomes). And I am frustrated that I have only one John Rhode book in my collection - and that one a collaboration with John Dickson Carr - when the author wrote more than a hundred books. I have no Henry Wade, no G. D. H. Cole. And their books remain generally scarce. That's what Evans is complaining about - and I second the complaint. It seems to me, in an era of "print-on-demand" technology and e-books, that there is no really good reason why all these authors should not be available!

    Yvette

    Well, maybe Print-On-Demand will catch up, Les. Anything is possible. I would love to have access to more Dickson Carr books, for sure. And the Hildegarde Withers books. Some of the authors mentioned by Evans I am not at all familiar with, but if I ran across them, I'd take a look. The problem as you and Evans state it is, of course, that no one is printing these Golden Age male authors. There's no demand and there should be, I get that. Maybe it's just the tone of Evans' piece that I found a bit strident.

    Maybe FELONY AND MAYHEM Publishers could be induced to do something. They have a pretty nice list of older authors now coming into print.

    The comments to this entry are closed.

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