Monday, April 7, 2014

"Its Shifting of Emphasis from Pure Puzzle to the Study of Character and Setting"

By Winifred Peck (1882-1962). 
1933. 320 pages. $2.00
No e-versions or reprints seem to be available.
Detective fiction expert Curt Evans points to this book as one that presaged the impending advent of the modern "crime novel":
Dour Scottish family owns famous jewel which precipitates murder solved by young barrister and his wife. - Best for its atmosphere. Better written and characterized than most mysteries. A grim picture of family hatred and its results. - Verdict: Good. — "The Criminal Record," THE SATURDAY REVIEW (September 16, 1933)
The Warrielaw Jewel actually is set in the Edwardian era, 1909 specifically ("that period, so far away from modern youth, when King Edward VII lived, and skirts were long and motors few, and the term Victorian was not yet a reproach").  . . . Jewel is notable as an early example of a Golden Age mystery that, in its shifting of emphasis from pure puzzle to the study of character and setting, helped mark the gradual shift from detective story to crime novel which Julian Symons famously celebrated in his history of the mystery genre, Bloody Murder. — Curt J. Evans, MYSTERY*FILE (26 October 2010) and THE PASSING TRAMP (January 15, 2012)
The plot and prose are well-constructed. However, I felt that they were both rather ponderous, and I found myself longing for a bit of excitement. Even potentially dramatic scenes had a rather soporific feel to them. This book is interesting as an example of a novel written in the midst of the Golden Age that sought to be something more than a puzzle, and really is a study in character and setting. — Martin Edwards, DO YOU WRITE UNDER YOUR OWN NAME? (11 February 2011)

Category: Detective fiction

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