Monday, 16 November 2015

A Night to Remember


Last Thursday evening was for me very special. The highpoint of my crime writing life, no less. For Thursday was when, during a wonderful occasion as the Dorchester Hotel, I became President of the Detection Club. Since 1930, there have only been seven previous Presidents, plus a co-president, Lord Gorell, who acted as a public speaker during the early years of Agatha Christie's nineteen year reign as President. My immediate predecessor was Simon Brett, who has served with distinction for the past fourteen years.

The first President, from 1930, was G.K. Chesterton - Sir Arthur Conan  Doyle was approached, but too infirm in the months before his death to accept. Chesterton was followed by E.C. Bentley, author of the book that really inaugurated the Golden Age of detective fiction, Trent's Last Case. Next came Dorothy L. Sayers, and when she died, Agatha Christie took over. After her death, Julian Symons became President; he was followed by another leading crime novelist and critic H.R.F.Keating, and then Harry handed over to Simon. As I said at the close of the installation ceremony, those are big shoes to fill. And there's a big presidential robe to fill, too! It was clearly designed, as Simon noted, to accommodate the well-upholstered Chesterton

A very happy feature of the evening was that we had the largest turn-out for a Detection Club event for many years. Those attending included Harry's widow Sheila, Jessica Mann (who was the Club Secretary for several years), the eminent journalist Katherine Whitehorn, and a host of distinguished novelists including Andrew Taylor and N.J. Cooper. The guest speaker was Mark Lawson, himself a novelist of note, as well as a leading cultural critic and commentator. He spoke movingly and well about a trio of recently departed crime writers, P.D. James, Ruth Rendell, and Henning Mankell, and we also had a chat about The Golden Age of Murder, which he reviewed very generously some months ago.

The Detection Club is a private, London-based dining club, no more, no less. But it has the distinction of being the first major social network for crime writers, and it played a significant part in the genre's development and its cultural heritage. And next year will see the publication of the first Detection Club novel for decades. This is The Sinking Admiral, a book which we thoroughly enjoyed putting together. I'm very glad to be part of the Club, and naturally I'm thrilled that the members have honoured me by asking me to take over from Simon. It's not something I ever anticipated, but I'm very, very glad that it's happened.


22 comments:

Fiona said...

Selection by your peers has to be the greatest honour, Martin - and all your many fans will consider the honour very well deserved :) Congratulations again.

Peggy Ann said...

Congratulations, Martin!

Guy Fraser-Sampson said...

A great honour, richly deserved!

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Congrats Martin, a richly deserved honour.

Les Blatt said...

An honor richly deserved, Martin. All congratulations!

Marcia Talley said...

I can't think of anyone more eminently qualified to step into so many pairs of predecessor shoes! Congratulations, Martin. Long may you reign.

Bradley Friedman said...

Martin, to assume the mantle of leadership over this illustrious group, one whose history has been of such literary significance for millions of readers for over eighty five years, must be a proud moment indeed. And I bet you're going to have so much fun! :) congratulations!

Christine said...

Congratulations! I am thrilled for you, Martin!

Gavin L. O'Keefe said...

Congratulations, Martin! A well-deserved honour for you. :-)

lyn said...

Congratulations Martin, a well-deserved honour.

Deb said...

Let me add my congratulations to all the others here: a well-deserved honor and a position I'm sure you'll fill with consideration and aplomb.

Carol Flatt said...

Congratulations, Martin! Very well-deserved, prestigious honor. Enjoy!

karabekirus said...

Congratulations, Martin! The robe becomes you.

paulbeech said...

Congratulations, Martin – an honour richly deserved through your wonderful contribution to the genre in so many ways. Enjoy it!

Paul

Bill Carlin said...

Congratulations, Martin. What a superb endorsement of your obvious love for the genre not to mention all the hard work you put in but still infused with a real sense of fun and enthusiasm.

Val said...

Congratulations!
That is really an honour...I hope you have lots of fun.

Sue said...

Well done and richly deserved.

Clothes In Books said...

A wonderful and well-deserved honour Martin - many congratulations.

Lesley Cookman said...

Congratulations, Martin. Well deserved, as so many have said.

Elaine Showalter said...

Bravo, Martin!

Nan said...

Well deserved, and you fit right in with that company! Really, I am just delighted. I look forward to The Sinking Admiral.

Betty Duffy said...

Congratulations Martin , no doubt you'll enjoy it to the hilt.