Friday 23 April 2010

Forgotten Books - Detection Medley

My latest contribution to Patti Abbott's series of Forgotten Books is another volume produced under the aegis of the Detection Club. Detection Medley was published in the UK in 1939; it appeared the following year in the US under the title Line Up.

John Rhode edited the book and supplied a foreword (although it is debateable whether his account of the historical date of origin of the Club is correct), while A.A. Milne, himself a member of the Club, contributed a short introduction.

Milne, of course, wrote a celebrated Golden Age whodunit, The Red House Mystery, as well as some other work that touched the genre. He remains, however, best known as the creator of Winnie the Pooh! His introduction is characteristically light and urbane.

This book is something of a mixed bag. Although most of the contributions – a number of which had been published previously - were short stories, there were also articles by G.K. Chesterton, J.J. Connington, R.Austin Freeman and Milward Kennedy.

The full list of contents is:

Margery Allingham – The Lieabout

Margery Allingham – The Same to Us

H.C. Bailey – Mr Bowley’s Sunday Evening

E.C. Bentley – The Sweet Shot

E.C. Bentley – The Genuine Tabard

Nicholas Blake – A Slice of Bad Luck

J. Dickson Carr – Persons or Things Unknown

G.K. Chesterton – The Best Detective Story

Agatha Christie – Wireless

Agatha Christie – Death By Drowning

G.D.H. and M. Cole – Too Clever By Half

J.J.Connington – A Criminologist’s Bookshelf

Freeman Wills Crofts – The Match

Carter Dickson – The Hiding-Place

Carter Dickson – The Crime in Nobody’s Room

Edgar Jepson and Robert Eustace – All Square

R. Austin Freeman – The Art of the Detective Story

Anthony Gilbert – Horseshoes for Luck

Anthony Gilbert – The Cockroach and the Tortoise

Lord Gorell – The Shadow

Lord Gorell – A Fly in the Ointment

Ianthe Jarrold – Blue Lias

Milward Kennedy – Are Murders Meant?

Milward Kennedy – Murderers in Fiction

E.C.R. Lorac – The Live Wire

Arthur Morrison – A Professional Episode

The Baroness Orczy – A Shot in the Night

The Baroness Orczy – The Tytherton Case

E.R. Punshon – Who Was It?

E.R. Punshon – The Secret of the Chessboard

Dorothy L. Sayers – Striding Folly

Dorothy L. Sayers – The Haunted Policeman

Henry Wade – The Sub-Branch

Henry Wade – Four to One – Bar One

Hugh Walpole – The Perfect Close


Anonymous said...

Martin - Thanks for reminding me of this! I remember it very, very vaguely as Line Up, although I haven't run into it for a long, long time. You've gotten me interested in seeing if I can find a copy. There's such a terrific list of contributors.

vegetableduck said...

Martin, Street wrote:

"In the year 1928 [Anthony Berkeley] approached several writers of detective fiction, with the suggestion that they should dine together at stated intervals for the purpose of discussing matters connected with their craft. The idea found immediate favour, and a series of dinners was held."

"The success of these meetings was such that the group of some twenty persons who had been invited to attend them decided to organise themselves into a permanent Club...."

If the informal dinners took place during the rest of 1928 and 1929, this is consistent with the Club not being officially formed until late 1929/early 1930, as Doug Greene has shown in his Carr biography.

What seems to have happened is Howard Haycraft came away from "Line-Up" with the impression that the Club was officially formed in 1928, but this was not the case.

I've got some interesting detail on this book in my Street chapter (and am nine footnotes away from "completely completing" the whole manuscript--finally!).

There are some nice items in the book (and some duds). I've always liked Margery Allingham's "The Same to Us." The Golden Age gets a lot of raps for racism, so this story was nice to see. The Ianthe Jerrold story seems a real rarity. She wrote a couple nice detective novels too that seem to have been entirely forgotten. She'd be a good one for one of your pieces!

Jane Finnis said...

Wow, what a galaxy of stars, and some very intriguing titles. I'm with Margot, I'm going to try and find a copy.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Great list of contributors to the volume! It sounds like some of the stories might be hit or miss, but that's usually the way with a collection.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Martin Edwards said...

Margot, yes it is a great 'line up', and a book well worth seeking out in my opinion.

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Curt, yes, perhaps I was a bit tough on Rhode. I've been trying to sort out the history of the Club and his vagueness frustrated me, I must admit. After all, he was there! But you make a good point.
I confess I know nothing about Ianthe - can you tell us more, please?

Martin Edwards said...

Jane, I think you would like this book, though it isn't that easy to find.

Martin Edwards said...

Elizabeth, you are quite right - having edited a lot of collections, I'm very aware that achieving evenness is very tricky indeed!

Luca Conti said...

"The Avon Book of Modern Crime Stories", a 1942 paperback which I happen to own, was a reprint of "Line Up". Unfortunately, it looks like these American editions were abridged versions of the "Detection Medley" volume. In my Avon book, only the stories of Bentley, Carr/Dickson, Chesterton, Christie, the Coles, Connington, Crofts, Freeman, Morrison, Orczy, Sayers, Wade and Walpole do appear.