That wonderful "irregular magazine of comments and criticism about crime and detective fiction", CADS, has just landed on my doorstep again. This is the 60th issue, a testament to the hard work of editor and publisher Geoff Bradley. As usual, it is an excellent and fascinating read. The emphasis is always on books of the past, but if you are interested in any aspect of the genre, I think you'll find something of interest in each issue.
There are many good things in this issue, including three typically enjoyable contributions by Liz Gilbey, but perhaps the highlight is a lengthy article about the "deposed crime kings" of the Golden Age, written by Curt Evans. Curt, incidentally, often contributes very well-informed comments on my posts, for which I am extremely grateful. He goes by the name of "Vegetable Duck", which is also the unlikely title of a novel by John Rhode, who is one of the authors featured in his article.
I've done quite a bit of research on the same authors, but Curt has come up with some points I wasn't aware of. For instance, he says that TS Eliot was a great fan of Freeman Wills Crofts and R. Austin Freeman, and he has discovered that Margaret Cole apparently wrote 10 of the mysteries which appeared under the names of her husband Douglas and herself on her own, while Douglas wrote 18 by himself. He also refers to one book by John Rhode which "manages to credibly employ a purple hedgehog as an instrument of death". Wow! Now that is one neglected classic that I really must track down one of these days!
He also makes the point that Crofts' work was influenced by his "religious value system", and Douglas Cole liked to bring to his work "a satirical touch, often influenced by a leftist world view". These writers, and the others whom he discusses, had some failings as prose stylists, but Curt is doing a great job at highlighting some of their under-estimated virtues.