For the next month, I will be reading British mysteries published during the Golden Age of Detective Fiction which is defined as works published roughly between the two World Wars of the 1920’s and 1930’s. The hallmarks of these books included the style of writing, order being restored, clever detection methods and an honorable detective. Graphic violence and social commentary were kept to a minimum.*
Published March 27th 1991 by HarperCollins Publishers
Paperback, 252 pages
First up is Strong Poison: A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery featuring Harriet Vane (1930). This mystery was written by Dorothy L. Sayers (1893 to 1957) who was an renowned English novelist best known for her detective stories. She was also a scholar and a playwright. Strong Poison is Lord Peter Wimsey’s sixth outing since he was introduced in Whose Body? in 1923. The story is set during the late 1920′s. The Peter Wimsey mysteries are still popular today with most if not all of her books still in print and digitized.
She is lovely, smart, and talented—and only Lord Peter can save her from the gallows
One of the first things to share about this book is the humor, which came from the story’s quirky characters. Also the murder mystery is quite clever even though the result wasn’t all that surprising. Lord Peter Wimsey is a charming fellow. He’s described as a gentleman amateur sleuth and is the archetype of the British detective. In Strong Poison, he falls in love with a woman accused of murder.
This is my entry to Rich Westwood’s 1939 challenge hosted at Past Offences. The challenge is for readers to review a mystery, story or film that first appeared in 1939. The Big Sleep fits that criteria and provided the incentive I needed to finish reading it.
Raymond Chandler (1888 to 1959) is an author I have tried reading many times within the last two years. Chandler’s work is highly regarded and he is cited as being the first writer to set the standard in hardboiled detective fiction. The Big Sleep (1939) introduces his iconic detective Philip Marlowe who works and lives in West Hollywood. The opening paragraph gives the reader a clear picture of the character narrating this 234-page story:
I was wearing my powder-blue suit , with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief , black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars. Chandler, Raymond; Amsel Movie Tie-In Cover, Richard (2002-06-11). The Big Sleep: A Novel (Philip Marlowe) (Kindle Locations 17-19). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Continue reading
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was published in 1902 and it concludes my reading of Sherlock Holmes after finishing two earlier stories: A Study in Scarlet (1887) and The Sign of Four (1890).
The Hound of the Baskervilles is said to be the best book in the Sherlock Holmes canon as rated by Sherlockians from all over the world in 1999. Completing only three stories thus far, I’d rate this one high above the earlier stories, too.
As the title suggests, the story is about a menacing hell-hound stalking the Baskerville family. It’s a curse that has dogged them for generations and has caused concern about the manor one day being unoccupied. Not long into the story, the supernatural hound claims another Baskerville, which prompts a visit to 221B Baker Street. Continue reading