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The Dollar Chasers

Earl Derr Biggers (1884-1933) is of course best-known for the rather wonderful Charlie Chan detective stories. Before the Charlie Chan books he’d already had considerable success as a mystery writer, his 1913 novel Seven Keys to Baldpate having done particularly well. The novella The Dollar Chasers was published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1924, a year before the first of the Charlie Chan novels.

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Edgar Wallace’s Big Foot

Edgar Wallace’s 1927 thriller Big Foot is one of his more obscure novels but it’s actually rather a treat.

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Best Dr Thorndyke Detective Stories

The 1973 Dover paperback collection The Best Dr Thorndyke Detective Stories includes eight stories by one of the most important of all writers of detective fiction, R. Austin Freeman. Freeman’s career began in the early Edwardian period and lasted until the early 1940s. Freeman represents a kind of bridge between the Victorian detective story and the golden age style of the 20s and 30s.

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Drink to Yesterday

Drink to Yesterday, published in 1940, was the first of Manning Coles’ spy novels featuring Tommy Hambledon. Manning Coles was a pseudonym used by a British writing team, Adelaide Frances Oke Manning (1891–1959) and Cyril Henry Coles (1899–1965). Coles had been a real-life British spy in the First World War (and would serve British Intelligence again in the Second World War) while Manning had worked in the War Office so they had the advantage of knowing the espionage game from the inside. The Tommy Hambledon series eventually ran to 26 novels.

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The Corpse in the Crimson Slippers

One thing you have to say about the mystery novels of R. A. J. Walling (1869-1949) - there’s none of that transcending the genre nonsense to be found in them. They are pure golden age puzzle-plot detective stories. They also happen to be rather good.

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The Complete Curious Mr Tarrant

Charles Daly King (1895-1963) was an American who devoted most of his career to psychology. During the 1930s he wrote half a dozen mystery novels and a collection of short stories, The Curious Mr Tarrant (published in 1935). These eight short stories, along with a handful of others written later, have been published in paperback by Crippen and Landru as The Complete Curious Mr Tarrant.

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Interesting piece by Ho-Ling Wong on the continued popularity of golden age-style detective fiction in Japan - Ellery Queen is Alive and Well and Living in Japan.

The Man Who Sold Death

James Mitchell (1926-2002) is best remembered as the creator of the superb 1960s British spy television series Callan. Mitchell was also a novelist and in 1964 he had created another morally ambiguous spy hero, John Craig, who first appeared in his novel The Man Who Sold Death. The novel was published in 1964 (using the pseudonym James Munro) but is set a few years earlier.

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Sir John Magill’s Last Journey

Sir John Magill’s Last Journey was the sixth Inspector French mystery by Freeman Wills Crofts. It appeared in 1930 and it’s a textbook example of the Crofts style of the 30s. And that, in my opinion, is no bad thing.

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gastronomical crime fiction

I recently read Rex Stout’s Too Many Cooks which of course deals with murder among the great chefs of Europe. In fact food is absolutely central to the story. It’s a gastronomical mystery.

What other golden age detective novels could be described as gastronomical mysteries?


crime and spy fiction from Poe up to 1950

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July 2015


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