Along with such authors as Christianna Brand, Dorothy Bowers, and Elizabeth Ferrars, Rutland was one of the brightest British women newcomers to mystery writing to appear near the end of the Golden Age, producing between 1938 and 1942 a trio of detective novels distinguished by good plotting, witty writing and a sardonic and subversive sense of humor characteristic of Golden Age great Anthony Berkeley Cox.
Although the Rutland novels were very well-received in their day in both the UK and the US and Rutland was praised several decades ago in Jacques Barzun and Wendell Hertig Taylor's classic A Catalogue of Crime, Rutland received little notice in the internet era that I'm aware of until in 2010 I included her debut mystery, Knock, Murderer, Knock! (1938) on a list of my favorite Golden Age detective novels.
Pretty Sinister blog in 2011 he reviewed Rutland's second detective novel, Bleeding Hooks (1940), and in 2015 he reviewed Knock, Murderer, Knock!
John gave both books strong recommendations, and I urge you to read his blog pieces, though you might want to wait until after you've read the Rutland novels for yourselves. You will now get your chance to do precisely this, as new editions are forthcoming very shortly from Dean Street Press of both these novels, as well as Rutland's third and final mystery, Blue Murder (1942). They are available for pre-order at both Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.
I have contributed introductions to each of the three reissued novels wherein I have drawn on additional information I have been able to glean about this mysterious author, about whom, as in the case of another recently revived author, Annie Haynes, virtually nothing was publicly known five years ago.
If you are a fan of classic crime fiction from the 1930s and 1940s, you really owe it to yourselves to give these books a look. They are some of my favorite "forgotten mysteries" from the period. I must say too that I really like these cover designs!
With attractive reissues of mysteries by Ianthe Jerrold, Annie Haynes, Harriet Rutland and E. R. Punshon, Dean Street Press is, like the British Library and other publishers, making a healthy contribution to the revival of vintage English crime fiction, something I have worked to encourage for some fifteen years now. More authors are on the way in 2016.
I've started reading Knock, Murderer, Knock and, so far, it's really good. I hope to finish it and have a review up somewhere around the weekend. Keep up the good work in bringing these forgotten writers back to our attention!ReplyDelete
Thanks, and glad you are enjoying so far.Delete
All sounds great and on paper too - hurrah!ReplyDelete
Yes, they should be available in both US and UK in paper too.Delete
Can't wait to get my hands on these!ReplyDelete
They are very good imo, a real find for Crimes Queens fans and writers like Anthony Berkeley/Francis Iles.Delete
So happy to see these reissued! Shimwell/Rutland was quite a talent. I have yet to read BLUE MURDER. So far BLEEDING HOOKS is my favorite of the two I've read. The mystery elements are better dopne, clues hidden more skillfully, and the identity of the murderer is less transparent than her first book, though that debut is quite a stunner for a number of reasons. Can't wait to read why she stopped writing detective novels and what happened to her. Are all the intros different? Or can I buy just one book and get the full background on her? ;^)ReplyDelete
Yes, each intro is different. I think Knock is still my favorite, but I like the other two quite a lot as well. On rereading I appreciated Blue Murder more, but it has an even more sardonic edge than the first two and quite a clever and original plot. It's non-series, I should have mentioned that the first two do have a series detective, as you know.Delete
Among modern crime writers Harriet Rutland actually reminds me quite a bit of Minette Walters!Delete
Really exciting to see that Dean Street Press is releasing one interesting title after another! I'll check Harriet Rutland's novels out, as I am a fan of Berkeley's sarcasm.ReplyDelete
These are great Golden Age mysteries, definitely looking ahead to modern crime fiction, but with so many of the qualities we love about the Golden Age.Delete
P.S. Why the comparison with Minette Walters...?ReplyDelete
Read and see, especially that last one. Then read The Ice House (again if read already).Delete
Just checking - would starting with the second or third novel spoil the earlier ones?ReplyDelete
The last one is non-series. You could read the last one first, but it's something of a change of pace from the first two, highly unique! I think I would read them in order, although it's not necessary.ReplyDelete