Spain's mystery novels are ten in number and appeared over a decade-long period, from 1945 to 1955. A couple of these I reviewed, somewhat indifferently, over at Mystery*File five years ago.
Spain's mystery novels were known for their madcap humor and haphazard detection, and the two I reviewed at Mystery*File certainly lived up (or down) to that reputation.
In 1953 Spain actually was turned down for membership in the Detection Club, or "blackballed" as Spain put it, Dorothy L. Sayers evidently speaking for other members when in 1953 she commented in a letter that the Spain novel she was reading was enjoyable, but lacking in clues and detection.
|On the air: Nancy Spain|
Frankly I had mostly written Spain off as a genuine mystery writer, as opposed to a satirical humorist, until I started reading her seventh detective novel, R in the Month (1950). Dedicated to Margery Allingham, who a couple of years earlier had published one of her best crime novels, the baroquely detailed More Work for the Undertaker, R in the Month is an admirable essay in "novel of manners" mystery. The social setting, a seaside resort town in southern in England, is well-conveyed, the people sharply-portrayed, the humor strong without going over-the-top, and the mystery plot linear.
I'll have more detail tomorrow on the mystery itself, plus some additional discussion about Nancy Spain's...unusual relationship with Margery Allingham and Margery's husband, Philip Youngman Carter.