Tue 30 Mar 2010
AGATHA CHRISTIE, DOROTHY L. SAYERS, E. C. BENTLEY and Other Distinguished Members of the Detection Club – The Scoop [and] Behind the Screen. Introduction by Julian Symons. Harper & Row, hardcover, 1983. Charter, reprint paperback, 1984. First published by Victor Gollancz, UK, hardcover, 1983.
According to Julian Symons, the Detection Club is “a slew of crime writers, slew being surely the right collective noun.”
To raise money to acquire club premises, the members collectively wrote two crime novels to be read on BBC radio, each made up of chapters by different authors. These stories have remained buried in the files of the BBC’s magazine, The Listener, until now.
It must have been fun to be a mystery fan in the 30′s: Imagine being able to hear Christie, Sayers, Bentley, Berkeley, Knox, Dane, et al reading their own chapters over the air!
And it must have been great fun writing them too. Mostly they are just fun, not to be taken seriously as mystery and detection stories. Perhaps the noted authors took the whole thing as a kind of game, a spoof on what they did for a living.
The Scoop has a passable plot and cliched characters. The less said about the plot and characters of Behind the Screen the better. But taken as spoofs, just for fun, they are fun. And they are interesting examples of their authors’ work when they let down their hair and their standards.