The Detection Club: A Primer

The Detection Club is a legendary organization of mystery writers founded in 1930 by a group of British crime novelists, including Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Anthony Berkeley. The club’s aim was to improve the quality of detective fiction and provide a forum for writers to share ideas and support each other.

The Detection Club had strict rules for its members, including that they had to be published authors of detective fiction and that they could not reveal the solution to any of their plots before the book was published. The club also had a code of ethics, which included that the detective must solve the crime by logical deduction, that the criminal should not be anyone the reader has not had a chance to get to know, and that the detective should not have any supernatural powers.

The club’s members were a diverse group of writers, including those who wrote cozy mysteries, hard-boiled detective stories, and police procedurals. The club provided a space for writers to exchange ideas and offer support, particularly during the difficult times of the Great Depression and World War II.

The Detection Club’s most famous activity was its “serial” novels, where each member would contribute a chapter to a mystery novel, with the final chapter written by the club’s president. The first serial novel, “The Floating Admiral, was published in 1931, and subsequent novels included The Scoop,” Ask a Policeman,” and The Anatomy of Murder. These serial novels were popular with readers and showcased the diverse styles of the club’s members.

The club also organized public events, including charity auctions and theatrical performances. In 1937, the club even published a book of recipes, The Detection Club Cookery Book, which included recipes from its members.

The club’s influence on the detective fiction genre was significant. The club’s members were some of the most popular and well-respected writers of their time, and their novels continue to be read and adapted for film and television today. The club’s code of ethics and rules for writing detective fiction were influential in shaping the genre, and the club’s collaborative serial novels inspired similar projects by other writers.

In conclusion, The Detection Club was a groundbreaking organization of mystery writers that had a significant impact on the detective fiction genre. The club’s strict rules and code of ethics helped to improve the quality of detective fiction, and its collaborative serial novels were popular with readers and showcased the diversity of its members’ styles. The club’s legacy continues to be felt today, and its influence on the genre is undeniable.


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