A SHORT HISTORY OF CRIME FICTION
RONALD KNOX’S TEN COMMANDMENTS OF CRIME FICTION
- The criminal must be mentioned in the early part of the story, but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to know
- All supernatural or preternatural agencies are ruled out as a matter of course.
- Not more than one secret room or passage is allowable.
- No hitherto undiscovered poisons may be used, nor any appliance which will need a long scientific explanation at the end.
- No Chinaman must figure in the story.
- No accident must ever help the detective, nor must he ever have an unaccountable intuition which proves to be right.
- The detective himself must not commit the crime.
- The detective is bound to declare any clues which he may discover.
- The “sidekick” of the detective, the Watson, must not conceal from the reader any thoughts which pass through his mind: his intelligence must be slightly, but very slightly, below that of the average reader.
- Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.
Julian Symons – Bloody Murder
P.D. James – Talking About Detective Fiction
G.K.Chesterton – ‘A Defence of Detective Stories’
Raymond Chandler – ‘The Simple Art of Murder‘
NOVELS DISCUSSED – WEEK 1
William Godwin – The Adventures of Caleb Williams
Sheridan Le Fanu – Wylder’s Hand
Edgar Allen Poe – Auguste Dupin stories
Wilkie Collins – The Moonstone
Emile Gaboriau – The Widow Lerouge – Monsieur Lecoq
Dick Donovan – The Man Hunter – Who Poisoned Hetty Duncan
Matthias McDonnell Bodkin – Paul Beck, the Rule of Thumb Detective – Dora Myrl, the Lady Detective – Young Beck, a Chip off the Old Block
G.K.Chesterton – Father Brown: The Essential Tales (Compendium)
Trent’s Last Case – Edmund Clerihew Bentley
GASTON LEROUX 1868-1927
WEBSITE ON ‘WORLD’S BEST’ DETECTIVE STORIES
Arthur Conan Doyle’s own selection of the best twelve Sherlock Holmes stories
(March 1927, Strand Magazine competition)
The Speckled Band
The Red-Headed League
The Dancing Men
The Final Problem
A Scandal in Bohemia
The Empty House
The Five Orange Pips
The Second Stain
The Devil’s Foot
The Priory School
The Musgrave Ritual
The Reigate Squires
Note 1: Doyle discounted the stories collected in The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes as the volume was yet to be published and the stories had only appeared, over the previous five years, in The Strand.
Note 2: The winner of the competition, Mr. R.T. Norman, identified ten of the twelve stories selected by Doyle and placed in a sealed envelope.
‘GOLDEN AGE’ FICTION – A TIMELINE
1907 Publication of The Mystery of the Yellow Room (Le Mystère de la Chambre Jaune) – Gaston Leroux
1908 Publication of The Circular Staircase – Mary Roberts Rinehart
1913 Publication of Trent’s Last Case – Edmund Clerihew Bentley, the introduction of Philip Trent
1914 Publication of Rouletabille at the War (Rouletabille a la Guerre) – Gaston Leroux
1920 Publication of The Mysterious Affair at Styles – Agatha Christie, which introduces Hercule Poirot – it was written in 1916
1922 Publication of The Secret Adversary – Agatha Christie, the first appearance of Tommy and Tuppence
1923 Publication of Whose Body – Dorothy Leigh Sayers, the introduction of Lord Peter Wimsey
1926 The mysterious disappearance of Agatha Christie
Publication of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd – Agatha Christie
1927 Publication of Thirteen Problems – Agatha Christie, one of which stories introduces Jane Marple
Death of Gaston Leroux
1928 Agatha Christie divorces Archie
1929 Publication of The Crime at Black Dudley – Margery Allingham, the introduction of Albert Campion
Publication of The Roman Hat Mystery – Ellery Queen (Frederick Dannay and Manfred Lee), the introduction of Ellery Queen
1930 Establishment of the Detection Club by, among others, Ronald Knox
Publication of The Door – Mary Roberts Rinehart in which ‘the butler did it’
Publication of Murder at the Vicarage – Agatha Christie, the first appearance of Jane Marple in a novel
Publication of Mystery Mile – Margery Allingham, the second Campion novel
1933 Publication of The Album – Mary Roberts Rinehart
Publication of Hag’s Nook – John Dickson Carr, introduces Gideon Fell
1934 Publication of A Man Lay Dead – Ngaio Marsh, the introduction of Roderick Alleyn
Publication of Nine Tailors – Dorothy L. Sayers, her personal favourite Wimsey novel
1934 Publication of The Plague Court Murders – Carter Dickson (John Dickson Carr) the first Sir Henry Merrivale novel
Publication of Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie
1935 Publication of The Three Coffins (GB-The Hollow Man) – John Dickson Carr, one of the great ‘locked room’ mysteries
1936 Publication of Trent’ Own Case – Edmund Clerihew Bentley
Bentley becomes President of the Detection Club until 1949
1937 Publication of Gaudy Night – Dorothy L.Sayers, Wimsey and Harriet Vane get together at last
1938 Publication of Trent Intervenes – Edmund Clerihew Bentley
1940 Publication of Edmund Clerihew Bentley’s autobiography Those Days
Publication of And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie, in the USA, still her best-selling novel (100m copies sold)
1945 ‘Who Cares Who Killed Roger Ackroyd’ – Edmund Wilson, is published in the January edition of the New Yorker
1953 Publication of The Cavalier’s Cup – Carter Dickson, the last Merrivale story
1957 Publication of 4.50 from Paddington – Agatha Christie
Death of Dorothy L. Sayers, aged 64
1958 Death of Mary Roberts Rinehart, aged 82
1966 Death of Margery Allingham, aged 62
1967 Publication of Dark of the Moon – John Dickson Carr, the final Gideon Fell story
1973 Publication of Postern of Fate – Agatha Christie – last novel published in her lifetime and the last Tommy and Tuppence novel
1975 Publication of Curtain – Agatha Christie, the last Poirot novel
1976 Publication of Sleeping Murder – Agatha Christie, the last Marple novel
Death of Agatha Christie, aged 85
1977 Death of John Dickson Carr, aged 70