I wrote a general intro and sub-intros for Gill's three detective novels, The Crime Coast (1929), (1932) and What Dread Hand? and Crime De Luxe (1933), all of which tell of the sleuthing exploits of Benvenuto Brown, French Riviera artist and amateur sleuth.
You will notice that Gill died when she was only 32. Had she lived longer I feel confident she would have emerged as one the more notable British women crime writers from the Thirties.
|"The Hope of the World" (1915)|
Young Miss Copping married for the first time, when she was only nineteen, Kenneth De Burgh Codrington, a brilliant young colonial Englishman then studying Indian archaeology at Oxford.
Codrington, a correspondent with T. S. Eliot on matters of religious philosophy, would become one of England's premier authorities on Indian antiquities. However, his marriage with Elizabeth lasted less than six years.
(See below for two of his paintings, Heavy Artillery, 1919, and King Alfred's Longships Defeat the Danes, 1927.)
The new couple occupied a ground floor studio flat at the Tower House at Tite Street, Chelsea, an abode of artists and writers for decades.
(Indeed, in a coincidental pairing of artist ancestors and detective writer descendants the Gills occupied the very same flat the famed artist James Whistler, great-uncle of mystery writer Molly Thynne, had before them.)
Two years after the marriage, Elizabeth Gill, who also dabbled in watercolors (a great-grandfather was a prominent watercolorist) and dress design, published her first detective novel, Strange Holiday (The Crime Coast in the US, the title under which Dean Street Press is reprinting it.) Three years later came What Dread Hand?
|the striking, and strikingly lurid,|
dust jacket design to the American
edition of Gill's second detective novel
The third Gill detective novel, Crime De Luxe, takes place on a luxury transatlantic ocean liner traveling from the UK to the US, where Brown is giving an exhibition of his works. This clever and thoughtfully-written novel actually is one of my favorite shipboard mysteries. The author traveled several times to the US with her husband and seems to have had a high opinion of the country.
Literate, witty, well-plotted and altogether charming, Elzabeth Gill's trio of detective novels were reprinted in the US, where they were very well-reviewed and her untimely death was reported nationally; yet after her death the books remained out-of-print for over eight decades.
Happily, that has now changed, with their reprinting by Dean Street Press. I hope you give them a look and enjoy them.