Saturday, April 7, 2018

Immersed in the "Golden Age of Crime"

It has been six weeks since the accident, and I am doing better but not fully recovered. My leg seems to be healing well, but I have lost hearing in one ear, on the side where I had the head injury. I went through some very strange tests, involving warm and cold air blown into my ears while I was wearing a mask - at one point I started to wonder if it was all actually some sort of elaborate prank! This week I'll hear the results of what I decided must be actual tests, and hopefully get some kind of prognosis and possibly a treatment plan.

On the positive side, I was able to go back to work. While this cut seriously into my reading time, and the first week was rough, it has been very good to get back into a routine, and also to get out of the house.

Over the past weeks, I have been immersed in the "Golden Age" of crime. Immediately after the accident, I found myself unable to read, or watch, anything with violence. The murder of a child and a cat in Elly Griffiths' The Crossing Places really upset me. After that, I turned to Miss Silver, and then to Albert Campion. I re-read two of Margery Allingham's books, Police at the Funeral and More Work for the Undertaker. Then I picked up Julia Jones' biography, The Adventures of Margery Allingham. From it I learned that Allingham wrote a novel based on her family, The Galantrys (the UK title is Dance of the Years). I immediately added that to my reading list, though Jones describes it as "uneven." But then I lost interest in the biography, and went back to the mysteries.

Next I picked up The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards, a history of "the writers who invented the modern detective story." He profiles the authors who founded the Detection Club, including of course Dorothy L. Sayers and Agatha Christie. I recognize many of the other names from the compilations of mysteries that he has edited for the British Library Crime Classics series. I cannot resist them or their beautiful covers. (The most recent, Blood on the Tracks, a collection of railway stories, comes out in the US in August.) The Golden Age of Murder is packed full of fascinating stories, about the authors, their books, and real-life crimes that sometimes inspired them. But it's also inspiring me to set it down in favor of the books he writes about. I checked a couple of Miss Marple books out from the library today. I was surprised to read that Georgette Heyer declined an invitation to join the Detection Club. Martin Edwards suggests it was because her husband (a barrister) supplied the plots for her mysteries. I'm currently reading her Behold, Here's Poison, and I remember how the murder was done, but not who done it. I may return to Josephine Tey next. She never joined the Club, perhaps because she was rarely in London. And I was sorry to read that Patricia Wentworth was never even invited to join. I also have The Floating Admiral on the TBR shelves, the first book written collaboratively by Detection Club members. I didn't realize that they went on to write several others, which may or may not end up on the shelves as well. Martin Edwards points out that there were just as many men publishing in the "Golden Age," even though the "Queens of Crime" are better-known today. I have enjoyed some of their short stories, but except for H.C. Bailey, I haven't been inspired to read more of their work.