Thursday, March 27, 2014

"Puzzle Plots Are Nearly Completely Absent"

By J. S. Fletcher (1863-1935).
Digby, Long & Co.
1904. 6s. Reissued in 1929.
No e-versions seem to be available.
An Edwardian thriller writer impresses an Edwardian reviewer:
Six murders and a diamond necklace provide plenty of excitement in Mr. J. S. Fletcher's little story, The Diamonds, and when to this material is added an accidental fall into a glowing furnace of molten glass, a strong-minded milliner who horse-whips a mock clergyman, and a distinguished-looking K.C.B. who decides that the milliner is a fine woman for her age, anyone may guess that, welded together by Mr. Fletcher, it forms a chronicle the most exacting lover of thrills must be satisfied with. We seldom ask for "literature" in this style, we seldom get it; but we get real entertainment. — "Notes on New Books," THE BOOKMAN [U.K.] (March 1904; go to page 266, bottom left)
Some hack writers make it to the Big Time:
. . . Fletcher's work seems to have nothing in common with the Golden Age puzzle plots of his contemporaries. There is no attempt to build up Great Detectives in Fletcher. Detection itself, in any strict sense of the term, involving the uncovering of hidden truth, as opposed to mere pursuit of criminals, seems to be minimal. Fletcher's characters do not take part in a shared, cozy, upper class world, but instead seem to be enmeshed in some dangerous, thriller type situation. And puzzle plots are nearly completely absent. Fletcher was not an especially good writer, at least much of the time: he certainly created mountains of hackwork. His deviations from the paradigms of the Golden Age are often ascribed to him simply being a Bad Mystery Writer. He is often genuinely "bad", but his difference in approach from his contemporaries at least partly seems to reflect Fletcher's emergence from a different tradition. — Mike Grost, GAD Wiki

Category: Detective fiction

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