Tuesday, May 20, 2014

"This Is an Experiment in a Branch of His Art That Mr. Mason Has Not Attempted Before"

By A. E. W. Mason (1865-1948).
Hodder & Stoughton, Ltd.
1910. 311 pages.
Online HERE.
. . . although Mr. Mason usually employs his talents in more serious work, he quite understands the rules of the game; and while he obeys them, even to the extent of introducing the real criminal in rather close proximity to the opening page, he keeps the reader groping quite helplessly through pretty near two-thirds of the volume—and as detective stories go nowadays, this is rather ample praise. — Frederic Taber Cooper
In a profile article of A. E. W. Mason, the author announces the new direction Mason's fiction will take—into detective fiction:
. . . In his newest novel, Mr. Mason makes yet another departure.
"At the Villa Rose" is a thrilling romance of mystery and imagination such as one associates with the genius of Poe. Cunning use is made in it of a bogus spiritualistic seance to heighten the strange terror of the crime that is hidden at the heart of the mystery; and Mr. Mason draws his characters with a skill and insight that give probability and verisimilitude to his plot.
Even his astute detective is not one of the machine-made specimens of popular sensational fiction; and the reader is thrown off the scent by such a boldly original device that it is safe to say his suspicions will not fall on the guilty man till the labours of the detective have sufficiently unmasked him.
This is an experiment in a branch of his art that Mr. Mason has not attempted before, and a wholly successful experiment that without challenging comparison with either of his other books is as cleverly handled and makes in its different kind as good reading as any of them. — A. St. John Adcock, "A.E.W. Mason," THE BOOKMAN (October 1910; from page 42)
AT THE VILLA ROSE would be the first of six novels featuring Inspector Hanaud, all of which are beautifully reproduced on Project Gutenberg Australia HERE.

- Four contemporary reviews of AT THE VILLA ROSE can be found HERE, HERE, HERE [go to page 392, middle bottom], and HERE [go to page 296, top left].
- For a different take on Mason, see Mike Grost's article HERE.

Category: Detective fiction

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