The GOLDEN YEAR of Crime Fiction
"Death seems to provide the minds of the Anglo-Saxon race with a greater fund of innocent enjoyment than any other single subject." Dorothy L Sayers, 1934
The British Golden Age of detective fiction peaked in 1934. The hugely popular formula for the restoration of order amongst the upper classes was lead by Agatha Christie - the biggest selling novelist of all time – whose best-known story Murder on the Orient Express was published in this year. Dorothy L Sayers superb novel The Nine Tailors and Margery Allingham’s Death of a Ghost also hit the shelves whilst Ngaio Marsh’s quintessentially English detective Roderick Alleyn made his first appearance. Another memorable character arriving this year was John Dickson Carr’s (writing as Carter Dickson) first Sir Henry Merrivale locked room mystery The Plague Court. Over the pond Rex Stout’s armchair detective Nero Wolfe made his debut in the novel Fer-de-Lance and things were boiling up. Noir arrived in the shape of James M Cain’s stunning debut The Postman Always Rings Twice and Dashiel Hammet’s maintained the controversy with his biggest commercial success The Thin Man.
Murder on the Orient Express, 1934
Just after midnight, a snowdrift stopped the luxurious Orient Express in its tracks. By the morning there was one passenger fewer. An American lay dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside.
The Nine Tailors, 1934
Dorothy L Sayers
After the death of an unknown man, the famous Lord Peter Whimsey is called to investigate. Steeped in the atmosphere of a quiet parish this is a tale of suspense, character, and mood by one of the great masters of the mystery novel.
The Postman Always Rings Twice, 1934
James M Cain
Cain's first novel is the fever-pitched tale of a drifter who stumbles into a job, into an erotic obsession, and into a murder.
The Thin Man, 1934
Nick and Nora Charles are a rich couple living a liquor-soaked open marriage. They solve homicides in between wisecracks and martinis in this murder mystery that doubles as a sophisticated comedy of manners.
A Man Lay Dead, 1934
Death of a Ghost, 1934
The Plague Court Murders, 1934
At Sir Hubert Handesley's country house party, five guests have gathered for the uproarious parlour game of ‘Murder’. Yet no one is laughing when the lights come up on an actual corpse, the good-looking and mysterious Charles Rankin.
Nero Wolfe plays snake charmer in a case with more twists than an anaconda as he hopes to catch a killer who's still got poison in his heart after the murders of an immigrant and a college president.
Chief-Inspector Masters, genial ghost-layer of the London police, finds the body of of a medium, stabbed to death on the floor. The door had been bolted from within and locked from without, and there was no other means of getting in or out.
The first killing took place at a crowded art show, in full view of the cream of London society. For the second killing, only the victim and the murderer were present. Now the scene was set for the third.