Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Thickening Plot

By Grant Overton.
George H. Doran.
1922. 384 pages.
Chapter IV: "Where the Plot Thickens."
Pages 68-77.
Grant Overton skims over some then-popular mystery authors and their works from the late teens and early twenties.

SCARCELY anyone is there, now writing mystery stories, who, with the combination of ingenuity—or perhaps I should say originality—dependableness, and a sufficient atmosphere comes up to the high and steady level of Frank L. Packard. . . .Packard differs from his fellow-writers of mystery stories in his flair for the unusual idea.
. . . BULLDOG DRUMMOND [by H. C. McNeile] was a novelty. Apparently it was possible to write a first rate detective-mystery story with touches of crisp humour as good as Pelham Grenville Wodehouse's stuff!
"If your are questing for character-study or for realism or for true literature in any of its forms,—then walk around this book of mine (and, indeed, any book of mine); for it was not written for you and it will have no appeal for you. . . . there are worse faults to a plot than an occasional tendency to creakiness. It means, for one thing, that numberless skippable pages are not consumed in photographic description of the ill-assorted furnishings of the heroine's room or cosmos; nor in setting forth the myriad phases of thought undergone by the hero in seeking to check the sway of his pet complexes. . . . there is nothing especially debasing in a taste for yarns which drip with mystery and suspense and ceaseless action; even if the style and concept of these yarns be grossly lacking in certain approved elements."
Hulbert Footner does not look like a writer of mystery stories.
 . . . this book [GOLD-KILLER] opens with a murder at the opera and finishes (practically) with a nose dive in an airplane . . .
Mrs. Baillie Reynolds's latest novel is called THE JUDGMENT OF CHARIS. It is not a story to tell too much about in advance.
. . . THE VANISHING OF BETTY VARIAN [by Carolyn Wells] is one of the author's best . . .
Mrs. [Belloc] Lowndes's gifts, different from her distinguished brother's [Hilaire Belloc], are none the less gifts.
 Category: Detective fiction

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