The recent supply of mystery stories, on the other hand, has been of distinctly better quality than usual. You have to have an idea of some sort in a story of crime and detection, and this saves it from the complacent banality of the tale of conventional "adventure." The difficulty has often been that the workmanship was so crude, the style so vulgar, the people so absurd, the dialogue so stilted, that mere ingenuity of plot—though hardly a secondary matter in this kind of fiction—could not make up for them, for any reader of intelligence.
The standard in these respects is certainly going up. Writers are discovering that it cannot do harm and may do good to make their characters something like human beings, with the gait and accent of every-day; and we may as well suppose that this is in response to some sort of demand on the part of their special public.
In short, I gather that the taste for mystery fiction not only holds in quantity but improves in quality.
If you ask for instances I would cite offhand among very recent publications, "The Solitary House," "The Apartment Next Door," "The Mystery of Hartley House," and "Sinister House"—a rather odd uniformity of title, now that I notice it. There are current fashions in titles, as in everything else. — John Walcott, "Current Taste in Fiction," THE BOOKMAN (March 1919; Jump To page 41, top left)
Category: Detective fiction