It's always a delight to receive the latest copy of CADS, which celebrated its 30th birthday not long ago. This is issue 71 of Geoff Bradley's "irregular magazine of comment and criticism about crime and detective fiction" and it's a very strong issue, with lots of good things. In all honesty, I should add that from my perspective one of them is a long and lovely review of The Golden Age of Murder by Doug Greene, one of the genre's great experts. I'm glad to say the book also attracts quite a bit of comment in the letters column. But part of the significance of the review is that Doug also contributed to the very first issue of CADS all those years ago, and this underlines the point that Geoff's work attracts a great deal of loyalty, such is its quality.
The issue begins brilliantly with an article by Tony Medawar about a collaborative project that, sadly, never saw the light of day. A diverse group of leading writers got together in 1975 to write a round-robin mystery, rather in the manner of The Floating Admiral, although not all the contributors were members of the Detection Club. Those who were included Harry Keating, Christianna Brand, Len Deighton and (improbably, you may think) Patricia Highsmith. The story was meant to be recorded on LP and cassette, but the full and final version failed to materialise. What a shame.
I've asked Len about this, and 40 years on, he has no memory of the project whatsoever. The memories of other contributors also seem to be lost. This is not unusual - I found when researching The Golden Age of Murder that people's memories are very fallible, and my experience as a lawyer interviewing witnesses taught me as much, many years ago. This makes me feel a bit better when my own memory proves fallible, as it often does. In reality, 'facts' are very often a matter of opinion or questionable recollection, and that's true even in the case of 'facts' recorded in apparently authoritative documents.
If there were a league table of the most notable researchers into the Golden Age, who battle constantly with such difficulties, I'd probably put Tony at the top of the list. His second article in the issue covers a hitherto unknown story by Anthony Berkeley. Quite a find. Barry Pike and John Cooper are leading experts on GA fiction of very long standing, and both contribute very interesting articles. John's tackles Fiona Sinclair, of whom I'd never even heard. She sounds well worth checking out.
There are many other good things too. Examples include Scott Herbertson's report on the Bodies in the Library conference, Mike Ripley's piece on Eric Ambler, and Kate Jackson's article about the Chinese detective Lily Wu, who was also new to me. Compared to the likes of Barry, John and Tony, Kate is one of the new voices among young GA enthusiasts, and the quality of her writing and research suggests to me that she will become a leading figure among critics of the genre in years to come. Well, that's for the future, but in the meantime, if you like traditional crime fiction, CADS 71 is a must-buy.