I've been publicly airing ideas of late--wildly, even madly, ambitious, I know--for hypothetical Library of America volumes that might include what we might term "classical" mystery fiction from the Golden Age (roughly 1918-1939). With my previous list of 30 detective novels I've received some suggestions for alternate titles and some for additional writers. Only one person so far has criticized the inclusion of a specific writer.
No one mentioned Rudolph Fisher's The Conjure Man Dies (1932),which I would have included, but for the fact that it has already been taken for LOA's writers of the Harlem Rennaissance series. I did add a couple of authors, however, taking the total up to thirty, and switched a couple of titles (the added authors were Virginia Rath and Hugh Austin).
Jeffrey Marks, biographer of Craig Rice (Who Was That Lady?), has mentioned her exclusion from the list, but before 1940 she had published only one mystery novel, 8 Face at 3 (1939), not at the level of her best in my view. I think ideally she should be represented in a two-volume series called American Screwball Mystery: Eight Novels from the 1930s and 1940s. What say you to these choices as possible selections?
The Blind Barber (1934), by John Dickson Carr
Headed for a Hearse (1935), by Jonathan Latimer
The Annulet of Gilt (1938), by Phoebe Atwood Taylor
The Cut Direct (1938), by Alice Tilton
Hugger-Mugger in the Louvre (1940), by Elliot Paul
The Case of the Kippered Corpse (1941), by Margaret Scherf
Trial by Fury (1942), by Craig Rice
The Mouse in the Mountain (1943), by Norbert Davis
The trick here is that Phoebe Atwood Taylor was also Alice Tilton, so she shows up twice, in the same year. She was quite the prolific crime writer in the 1930s and 1940s, and one of the preeminent American representatives of both screwball and local color fiction fiction. She was a true American original, a Grandma Moses of murder (except, well, a heckuva lot younger).
The cause of Margaret Scherf has been taken up by Rue Morgue Press, a great advocate for the zany mystery. John Dickson Carr was better known for his frights than his chuckles, but any Carr fan will tell you that there is plenteous humor in Carr's books. The Blind Barber has long been considered a classic of mirthful mystery. Jonathan Latimer and Norbert Davis (and to some extent Craig Rice) represent the more hard-boiled side of screwball.
There's probably another set that could be devoted to "Couples" mystery, what do you think? Of course The Thin Man is already in the Dashiell Hammett set, but there are other notable examples.
There also should be, ideally, a 1940s set of detective novels, because the classical tradition was still strong in that decade. Represented here should be authors like Elizabeth Daly, as Dean James mentioned on the previous post, Hake Talbot (1944), whose Rim of the Pit is widely-loved by locked room mystery fans; and Craig Rice yet again, for her wonderful Home Sweet Homicide (1944).
At least we now have LOA a-twitter! I've known that someone connected to LOA, in addition to Sarah Weinman, reads this blog, because my discussion of Dashiell Hammett's short stories is sited here.