For Mysteries Unlocked: Essays in Honor of Douglas G. Greene I wrote an essay last year on Carolyn Wells, about whom I have written here a fair bit, in part because we needed another essay on writers who began writing mystery fiction in the gaslight era, in part because I thought we could use another essay on a woman writer and in part because, after all, Wells was a boyhood favorite of locked room mystery king John Dickson Carr and in his biography of Carr Doug has a wonderful anecdote about Carr, Fredric Dannay (of Ellery Queen) and Wells.
I recently found the following passage on page one of one of Wells' late mysteries, The Missing Link (1938). It's not a good book (sadly, few of Wells' books after the early 1920s are any good and indeed many are, as documented by Bill Pronzini in Gun in Cheek, "alternative" classics), but this passage I thought might be of interest:
A reader of detective stories was [Leif] Murray, and of the traditional sort. Like the oft described statesmen, members of Parliament, presidents, kings and even the clergy, he reveled in mystery yarns, if they were good ones.
His notion of a good one was a tale whose interest depended on originality of plot and cleverness of workmanship. One that presented a real puzzle to the intellectual reader.
He wanted no underworld characters, no gangster's work, no torture chambers or oubliettes, but rather a nice, clean, white-collared murder, with plenty of problems for a ratiocinative mind.
I do share Wells' admiration for a good puzzle (I hope I have a "ratiocinative mind"), though I don't know about that "nice, clean, white-collared murder" part. I'm pretty certain murder isn't nice and I believe blood shows on white collars.
However, I am reading a certain cozy by Carolyn Hart and will let you know what I think. Can Hart fans guess which title I selected? I notice some people complain about all the mystery references in her books, but, as you might guess, I rather like those!