In today’s edition of The Guardian newspaper there is an article with details of an essay written by Agatha Christie in 1945 on the art of the British mystery story. It was commissioned by the Ministry of Information and intended as a piece of propaganda but apparently was only ever published in the Soviet Union in 1947. Among the choice comments to be found in Alison Flood’s article, she quotes Christie’s essay as saying of John Dickson Carr that he was a “master magician … the supreme conjurer, the King of the Art of Misdirection”. Christie also extolls the virtues of such fine authors as Ngaio Marsh, Margery Allingham and Dorothy L. Sayers, though not without some mild criticism. Lord Peter Wimsey she opines is “… an example of a good man spoilt”.
The essay has been included as a preface to a new edition (hardback and Kindle) of the Detection Club’s 1933 round-robin novel Ask a Policeman, with an introduction by the estimable Martin Edwards (who blogs over at Do You Write Under Your Own Name?).