The Detection Club and The Golden Age of Mystery
By Lisa Karon Richardson
Following the Great War there was a period of optimism. The war to end all wars had been fought, and there was hope that the world would never again witness such horrors. It was a time of glamour, hope, and opulence. A time that remains edged with silver in the eye of history. During this time the mystery novel reached a pinnacle of creativity and wit. It is now known as the Golden Age of mysteries and it has left readers a rich legacy of choice stories to pick from.
In 1930 some of the best practitioners in the art of detective fiction joined together to form the Detection Club. The members included: Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, G.K. Chesterton, Baroness Orczy, E.C. Bentley, Father Knox, and several other well known authors.
They had an oath that members were required to take during an initiation ceremony. “Do you promise that your detectives shall well and truly detect the crimes presented to them using those wits which it may please you to bestow upon them and not placing reliance on nor making use of Divine Revelation, Feminine Intuition, Mumbo Jumbo, Jiggery-Pokery, Coincidence, or Act of God?”
Their guiding principle was fair play with the reader. All the clues had to be laid out so that, if astute, a reader could solve the crime too. They met for dinner in London regularly and the group actually published several books. Usually anthologies or with chapters written by different authors in a sort of round robin style.
It was as a member of this group that Father Knox came up with his list of rules which the mystery writer should not break. Proving that she is nothing if not individualistic, our own Julianna/DeAnna promptly set out to break them all. AND YET she still managed to craft a story that pays homage to the traditional mysteries that the members of Detection Club wrote during the Golden Age of Mysteries.
I really hope that you will pick up a copy of Rules of Murder and let the glitter and glitz of a bygone era sweep you away. In no time you’ll be as insouciant as Nick and Nora, as suave as Cary Grant, as cunning as Hitchcock. Well… maybe not, but you’ll feel as if you are all those things while you’re reading!
The Detection Club still exists, and I think they'd do well to invite our own DeAnna to join!
If you like mysteries, (and who doesn’t?!) what is your favorite type? Traditional, cozy, police procedural, hard-boiled, PI, something else?