The Queens of Crime

The 1920s and 1930s are called the Golden Age of crime fiction. I propose that we use that handle—”Golden Age”—as a nomenclature convention and not as a judgment label (I just don’t like the implication that everything was awesome back then and has gone downhill since; yes, the Golden Age was great, but the genre grows and changes and produces other great stuff all the time).
The Golden Age was dominated by female detective fiction writers, most of them British. You might have heard the expression “the Queens of Crime”; it probably was used to refer to Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, and Margery Allingham. Singularly, “the Queen of Crime” usually refers to Agatha Christie, the most prolific of those ladies.They codified and popularized a standard of quality detective fiction: the plots must be absorbing, the characters memorable (often offbeat, eccentric, or otherwise brightly colored), and whodunnit must be a satisfying surprise (unless the reader was paying very close attention).
- See more at: http://www.sohopress.com/crime-read-along-may-2012-introduction-to-josephine-teys-the-man-in-the-queue/1060/#sthash.TLuUA0rV.dpufeens of Crime
The 1920s and 1930s are called the Golden Age of crime fiction. I propose that we use that handle—”Golden Age”—as a nomenclature convention and not as a judgment label (I just don’t like the implication that everything was awesome back then and has gone downhill since; yes, the Golden Age was great, but the genre grows and changes and produces other great stuff all the time).
The Golden Age was dominated by female detective fiction writers, most of them British. You might have heard the expression “the Queens of Crime”; it probably was used to refer to Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, and Margery Allingham. Singularly, “the Queen of Crime” usually refers to Agatha Christie, the most prolific of those ladies.They codified and popularized a standard of quality detective fiction: the plots must be absorbing, the characters memorable (often offbeat, eccentric, or otherwise brightly colored), and whodunnit must be a satisfying surprise (unless the reader was paying very close attention).
- See more at: http://www.sohopress.com/crime-read-along-may-2012-introduction-to-josephine-teys-the-man-in-the-queue/1060/#sthash.TLuUA0rV.dpuf
The Golden Age of crime fiction, roughly the period between WWI and WWII, was a period when female detective fiction writers (British ones mostly) were producing popular novels that maintained a high and dependable standard for readers of crime novels.  They had memorable characters, intriguing plots, and the books (if not the detectives) always observed the rules of fair play—no last minute tricks, the reader is told everything they need to know to solve the mystery. Typically they are also told a whole lot of other stuff that obfuscates the question, but without that were is the challenge. Four women: Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, and Margery Allingham were the stars of this period and are known as the “Queens of Crime.”  This is one of my favorite genres and this page is a place for me to collect info about these amazing writers and to keep track of my reading of their work. Linked titles take you to my postings about those books.  

Margery Allingham
Allingham published many of her books under multiple titles and some under the pseudonym Maxwell March. This list uses the titles from the Allingham Society bibliography except where I read an edition that had one of the variant titles. 

Blackkerchief Dick; The White Cottage Mystery; The Crime at Black Dudley; Mystery Mile; Look to the Lady; Police at the Funeral; Sweet Danger; Other Man's Danger; Death of a Ghost; Rogue's Holiday; Flowers for the Judge; The Shadow in the House; Six Against the Yard (with various co-authors); Mr. Campion: Criminologist; The Case of the Late Pig; Dancers in Mourning; The Fashion in Shrouds; Mr. Campion and Others; Black Plumes; Traitor's Purse; The Oaken Heart; Dance of the Years; Coroner's Pidgin; Wanted: Someone Innocent; The Case Book of Mr. Campion; More Work for the Undertaker; Deadly Duo (includes Wanted and Last Act); The Tiger in the Smoke; The Patient at Peacock's Hall; No Love Lost (includes Patient and Safer Than Love); The Beckoning Lady; Hide My Eyes.

In 1959 Crime and Mr. Campion was published and after that there were many omnibus editions including various groupings of the earlier works, sometimes with new works added. I have not listed all these because it makes my head spin to try sorting it all out. 


Agatha Christie

Title list still under construction.


Web links

Ngaio Marsh


Artists in CrimeBlack as He's PaintedClutch of ConstablesColour Scheme; Dead Water; Death and the Dancing Footman; Death at the BarDeath in a White TieDeath in Ecstasy; Death of a Fool; Death of a Peer; Died in the Wool; Enter a Murderer; False Scent; Final Curtain; Grave Mistake; Hand in Glove; Killer Dolphin; Last Ditch; Light Thickens; A Man Lay Dead; Night at the Vulcan; The Nursing Home Murder; Overture to Death; Photo Finish; Scales of Justice; Singing in the Shrouds; Spinsters in Jeopardy; Tied up in Tinsel; Vintage Murder; When in Rome; A Wreath for Rivera



Web links
Overview from the New Zeland Book Council
A Ngaio Marsh Challenge from Vanda Symon at Overkill

Dorthy L. Sayers

Whose Body?Clouds of Witness; Unnatural Death; The Unpleasantness at the Bellona ClubLord Peter (stories)Strong Poison; The Five Red HerringsHave His Carcase; Hangman's Holiday; Murder Must Advertise; The Nine Tailors; Gaudy Night; Busman's Honeymoon; In the Teeth of the Evidence; Striding Folly; Thrones, Dominations; Six Against the Yard (with various co-authors)


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Misc. Clippings
  • There is an interesting piece in The Guardian which posits that Allingham is the greatest of these writers.
  • An article in the National Post makes an argument for placing Canada's Margaret Millar in this list.
  • Mysteries in Paradise posted a slideshow of these (and more) women of mystery.
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