|Could there be a thriller in his pocket?|
I think many people today regard classical, or so-called "cozy" detective fiction, as something appealing more to middle-aged and older readers, so it's interesting to note that during the Golden Age of detective fiction, between the two world wars, classic mystery was seen as something of a college campus craze, like wearing raccoon coats and swallowing goldfish.
In the United States, detective novelists John Dickson Carr (1906-1977), Todd Downing (1902-1974) and Milton M. Propper (1906-1962), for example, were avid mystery readers in college, as was another detective novelist I hadn't written about on the blog before, Clifford Orr (1899-1951), Dartmouth, Class of '22.
|Clifford Orr (1899-1951)|
Carr, It Walks by Night (1930)
Downing, The Murder on Tour (1933)
Propper, The Strange Disappearance of Mary Young (1929)
Clifford Orr, The Dartmouth Murders (1929)
Carr was only 23 when his first novel detective novel was published, Propper a year younger.
After publishing The Dartmouth Murders, Orr would publish The Wailing Rock Murders in 1932 and the same year he was said to have The Cornell Murders in preparation, but the latter novel never appeared (too bad, a line of college titled mysteries could have kept Orr in gravy for some time). Orr later went on to become an editor at the New Yorker, where he remained until his untimely death in 1951.
The Dartmouth Murders was filmed as A Shot in the Dark in 1935, a poverty row production that nevertheless has its modern admirers. Orr's first novel holds up well for fans of classic mystery, though his second one, Wailing Rock Murders, is, in my view the superior book of the pair. The latter novel is extremely rare, but happily a new edition is forthcoming from Coachwhip, who will be publishing the novel as a twofer with The Dartmouth Murders.
|North Mass, Dartmouth (setting of the first death in|
The Dartmouth Murders; note modern fire escape)
In classic tradition, the local sheriff allows the father to more or less run the investigation for him, Ellery Queen or Philo Vance presumably not having been available for amateur consultation that week. Unfortunately, two more deaths will follow the first before a murdering fiend is found. In classic fashion, the trail of the mystery seems to lead to Boston and old sins that have cast long shadows....
|Rollins Chapel, Dartmouth|
(scene of the second murder in
The Dartmouth Murders)
I'll have a separate post on the latter novel coming soon!