I am a fan of the mystery stories written by British women during the 1920s and 1930s, although they wrote beyond that time. I read them for their social history, for the manners and behavior of the time, and for the astonishing politeness and restraint of the police. There were no SWAT teams, no brutality. As all of my favorite writers paint the same picture of police behavior, village life, the upper and lower classes, I think the depictions are true. I use the books as an escape from our barbarous time into a civilized existence when there existed ladies and gentlemen and gentlemen police, manners, and restrained behavior.
But there is much else to learn from the writers. To avoid having to repeat, “in my opinion,” I declare at the outset that what follows is just that–my opinion. I have not studied murder mysteries and have no claim to being an authority. You are respected for your own opinion.
My favorites are Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Elspeth Huxley, Josephine Tey, a pseudonym for Elizabeth MacKintosh who was Scottish, and Ngaio Marsh, a New Zealander who seems to know England as well as the others. I haven’t got around yet to Margery Allingham and have that to which to look forward.
As pure murder mysteries, Agatha Christie is the best. She is the third most read author after the Bible and Shakespeare, both declining rapidly in readership as they are disapproved. Her most famous mystery is Murder on the Orient Express. She did not realize the potential of her short story, “Witness for the Prosecution,” brought out in the movie starred by Marlene Dietrich and Charles Lawton, one of the best movies of all times.
Christie is the most prolific and most read. Her books perhaps out number the combination of the other four. Her private detectives, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple are superior characterizations to Tey’s Alan Grant, Marsh’s Chief Detective-Inspector Alleyn of Scotland Yard, and Huxley’s Superintendent Vachell, but all are memorial. Sayers’ Lord Peter Whimsey is in a class of its own.
I see my other four favorites as writers who include a murder in their novels.
Of all the murder mysteries, Sayers’ The Nine Tailors is the best. The social history and insight into what life was like, the art of bell ringing, and the mystery itself are jewels.
From Huxley we learn about British colonial life in Africa.
From Tey, who died young at 56 before she could write as much, we get penetrating insights into the liberal frame of mind that focuses criticism on society’s better side while giving support to the worser elements. Tey was very much aware of the undermining of civilized society by the perverted morality of liberals.
Sayers’ is equally famous for her other writings, and Huxley for her chronicles of British colonial life, The Flame Trees of Thika and Out in the Midday Sun. Tey is known for her historical novel, The Daughter of Time, a detective work investigating King Richard III’s hand in the murder of the princes in the Tower of London, a possible stolen election like the two the US has recently experienced. The Crime Writers’ Association judged Tey’s The Daughter of Time to be the best crime novel of all time.
Sayers rose from a decade (1922-1931) as a copywriter for an advertising agency to Dame of the British Empire. Clearly, the feminist lies about the suppression of women are nothing but lies that have indoctrinated generations of women into a false consciousness, which is where the ruling elite want all of us. If the races and genders can be put at odds, and new genders created to further foul relationships, the ruling elite can rule easily through Identity Politics as there is no unity in the population to oppose them or to hold them accountable.
I sometimes think that the last wife in the brainwashed Western World who supported emotionally her husband was my parents generation. The last child that respected their parents and grandparents was the next generation. Today to have children can be close to creating enemies, or so it often seems. There are instances of kids calling Child Protective Services and aligning with the tyrannical state against their parents. This spells the end of civilized life.
Imagine today a mystery novelist or even a university professor capable of translating Dante’s Divine Comedy. Dorothy Sayers’ did it.
Dorothy Sayers also translated The Song of Roland. Try to imagine today a mystery writer with these capabilities.
Sayers wrote theological works such as The Mind of the Maker, published in 1941. Her “Lost Tools of Learning” is the classic on the destruction of education in Western civilization, a destruction that has doomed us to barbarism.
In the Barbarian World that today is Western “civilization,” stripped of all legitimacy by “racist,” “colonialist,” “white supremacy,” accusations, Sayers’ messages are dismissed, if even known, as tools of white supremacy. My other favorite mystery writers would be dismissed as racists and apologists for the white supremacy status quo, and Elspeth Huxley for colonialist exploitation. Agatha Christie is dismissed as someone who believes justice can be achieved in a white-ruled society.
White ethnicities are a tiny percentage of the world population. For several centuries all progress has come from them. The Unwritten British constitution and the written US Constitution that protect individuals from arbitrary government power are today declared to be “agents of oppression.” Science and technology are agents of colonialist exploitation and racism. You can make your own list. Today these white ethnicities–British, German, French, Italian, American–who gave the world freedom, scientific and technological progress, prosperity, and accountable government have been turned by their own intellectuals in their own universities into “racists colonist oppressors.”
To be clear, today liberty has no defenders except for those demonized by US Democrats and Woke ideologues as “enemies of democracy” who endanger democracy with free speech.
We await the final murder of the messenger and the institutionalization of the locked down Matrix.