Agatha Christie & Elizabeth Daly:
When the Queen of Crime takes a break from penning her own mysteries who does she read? Elizabeth Daly!
In one interview or another Christie stated that Elizabeth Daly was her favorite American mystery writer and unsurprisingly I agree with the great lady! Daly’s mysteries really are very fun to read. Why? Daly does a wonderful job of pairing a murder mystery with something vaguely absurd like a Victorian death mask (on steroids) with buttons or Byron’s poetry with a governess reappearing from her vacation on an astral plain. Plots which sound odd but when boiled down to their essence all have very rational means, motive and opportunity when ferreted out by the proper detective. The proper detective being the some what reluctant Henry Gamadge - who is sensible, down to earth and so charming that even Anthony Boucher stated Gamadge, “…is a man so well-bred as to make Lord Peter Wimsey seem a trifle coarse.” high praise indeed!
But one of the things which I love about this series, unlike so many of the mysteries of this period - the Gamadge mysteries should be read in order. Henry Gamadge collects people as he makes his way through life (as we all do) with each person growing as they make their way along the long road. Which makes stepping into each book feel like you are catching up with old friends - life happens between each book.
Plus each book ties some sort of biblio or paper based ephemera into the mystery one way or another - without ever falling into the theme trap. Since Gamadge is a documents expert and bibliophile, any kind of ink on paper falls within his set of skills. Each bit of paper Gamadge works with is essential to the mystery investigation and Daly never throws it in just for effect (which often happens in themed mysteries these days). Plus there is a bit of the absurd, humor and warmth to the writing - which makes me think that Daly liked writing about Gamadge and his exploits. Unlike so many mystery novelists (including Christie) who didn’t always like their creations. Plus the plotting and pacing in Daly’s mysteries are great and she plays by the rules!
"…I was born to perturb the orbits of others, myself remaining unsuspected and unseen"
From: Deadly Nightshade
This is one of the best descriptions of Henry Gamadge I have read so far…
My 52 Weeks With Christie: A.Miner©2016