The English Murder Mystery: Still Popular?

The murder mystery is one of my favorite genres. A good read and a great puzzle, all in one nice, hand-sized package. I especially enjoy those written by British authors and based in some historical period. Somehow, it seems the British authors were the best at setting a mood, hiding the clues, and most of all, making a central character that could carry story after story. (After story.)

Here are some examples of what I mean. Ngaio Marsh, who wrote the Inspector Alleyn books. Alan Hunter and his George Gently novels. Dorothy L. Sayers, who invented and breathed life into Lord Peter Wimsey. P. D. James, who brought Adam Dalgliesh to the Force; although I enjoy Cordelia Gray more. And naturally the Ellis Peter novels involving Brother Cadfael.

Agatha Christie’s work, over 80 novels, can’t be discounted either. Hercule Poirot is the original Monk, quirks and all. Miss Marple solves cases while offering you tea and crumpets. All set in a period when England was still an empire with real clout, although perhaps no longer in the ascendancy. Her locales are intimate, even when they are panoramic, because the characters are personal.

Then there’s my all-time favorite, Sherlock Holmes. A. C. Doyle got things going like nobody else has before or since. His creation was so powerfully embraced by readers that Sir Arthur had to revive him after killing him off at Reichenbach Falls. (And the Strand magazine thanks him for that.) I’ve enjoyed Laurie King’s “extension” of Holmes’ career, though the Marry Russell novel stream.

All this is enough to get anybody’s brain juices flowing. I think I’ll go invent my own English detective and write a story or six…

Murder Most Delicious…

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