Sunday, November 17, 2013

"A Sense of Glibness in the Detection"

By Dorothy L. Sayers.
1933/1995. 224 pages.
Collection: 12 stories.
From Be Scribe, BOOKENDS (June 10, 2008):
Like Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers also wrote, apart from a few other things, what one may call "puzzle fiction," as opposed to crime fiction. It's a genre in which the plots are precisely carved, the characters are neatly etched, the detective is a memorable character, the motives are clearly established, the settings are picture-perfect and the endings are pleasingly well-rounded. To achieve all this, you need space, time and sufficient events to build up the plot. This is something the short story format does not afford, and it shows in 'Hangman's Holiday' . . .
Sayers wrote eleven Montague Egg stories; they are the first six tales listed under 'Hangman's Holiday', and the first five under 'In the Teeth of the Evidence'. These tales are among the best pure detective stories that Sayers wrote. Most of the tales reflect realist school paradigms of detective fiction.
William L. DeAndrea has pointed out that Sayers' readers tend to go to extremes. They either think she is a great master, or they dismiss her.
I think she was an uneven but sometimes very good writer, with a remarkable variety of skills. She could create good mystery puzzle plots, and sometimes did. She had literary skills, and sometimes used them. She could also create interesting background material.
She also had a flair for thriller material, and it pops up in such works as 'Murder Must Advertise' and "The Cave of Ali Baba". One never quite knows what one will get when one starts a Sayers story, and one takes pot luck.
Lord Peter Wimsey stories:
"The Image in the Mirror"
"The Incredible Elopement of Lord Peter Wimsey"
"The Queen's Square"
"The Necklace of Pearls"

Montague Egg stories:
"The Poisoned Dow '08"
"Sleuths on the Scent"
"Murder in the Morning"
"One Too Many"
"Murder at Pentecost"

Other stories:
"The Man Who Knew How"
"The Fountain Plays"

Category: Detective fiction

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