Sunday, July 19, 2015

Who Completed Annie Haynes' The Crystal Beads Murder? Third Suspect: A. Fielding

Lady Dorothy Feilding (not A. Fielding)
Until research breakthroughs this year, the life of Annie Haynes was one of the most mysterious of Golden Age detective fiction writers.  Certainly rivaling Haynes in terms of personal mystery, however, was the enigmatic A. Fielding, author of 23 detective novels between 1924 and 1944.

A. Fielding was probably one Dorothy Feilding, though not the Lady Dorothie Feilding (1889-1935) some have asserted she was. However, this Dorothy Feidling remains a most elusive presence.

Noting that one thing we know about her is that she once lived down the street from Agatha Christie, I humorously suggested in a prior blog piece that Dorothy Feilding may have been Agatha Christie under an assumed name!

By 1929, when Annie Haynes died and a woman mystery writer friend stepped forward to complete her last, unfinished mystery, The Crystal Beads Murder, A. Fielding had published six detective novels and a thriller.  Over 1929-30 she would publish no less than four additional detective novels. (Fielding was a prolific mystery writer up to 1938, often publishing two novels yearly.)  Assuming Fielding would have had time to complete Haynes' mystery, is there any affirmative evidence to suggest that she did so?

Stylistically, there are similarities in the work of Christie, Fielding and Haynes alike, namely a brisk narrative style, heavily dependent on dialogue, and a partiality for genteel settings. But we know so little about Dorothy Feilding we can't say, really, whether or not she might have been a friend of Annie Haynes.  Also the section of The Crystal Beads Murders that represents the work of the substitute author actually is more reliant on descriptive writing than either Christie, Fielding or Haynes.

Conclusion: Unlikely.

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