Wednesday 17 December 2008

Gory Knight

I would never make a gumshoe. But the chance to indulge in a little literary detective work is something I find hard to resist – and I’ve been doing a bit of book-sleuthing lately.

It began when I received a catalogue of books for sale from Jamie Sturgeon. He listed a parody of Golden Age detective fiction called Gory Knight (published in 1937, not long after Dorothy L. Sayers produced Gaudy Night.) When I talked to him about the book, he said it was pretty good – but the copy had already been sold. But he suggested I contact Bob Adey and see if he had a copy to sell.

Bob is the world’s leading expert on locked room and impossible crime stories and has an in-depth knowledge of the genre that few can match. He said he did indeed have a copy of the book, and so I bought it.

The co-authors are Margaret Rivers Larminie and Jane Langslow. The day the book arrived in the post, I was flicking through an encyclopaedia of crime fiction and noticed that the eminent crime writer Margaret Yorke’s maiden name was Larminie. Reasoning that there can’t be too many literary Larminies, I got in touch with Margaret and asked her if there was a family connection.

It turned out that there was, although she had not known Margaret Rivers well. Margaret Rivers was a reasonably successful ‘straight’ novelist and Margaret Yorke had copies of those books – but had never heard of Gory Knight. She was fascinated to learn of it, and promptly bought a copy for herself.

Since we first spoke, Margaret has told me more about the literary Larminies, and I’ll continue the story, and add a few comments about Gory Knight itself, in a future post.

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