Detection Medley (1939) edited by John Rhode – an introduction

There have been a few books by the Detection Club, that august body of crime writers, over the years. The Floating Admiral, for one, Ask A Policeman and Six Against The Yard have all been reprinted relatively recently, and there have been many more over the years. But one early title that has not seen a recent reprint is the not-very-excitingly titled Detection Medley, edited by John Rhode, from 1939. It had a contemporaneous US reprint under the even more uninspiring Line-Up. Three years later, some of the content appeared as The Avon Book Of Detective and Crime Stories – definite diminishing returns in the title stakes – but as far I as I am aware, there hasn’t been a reprinting since. I’d imagine there just might be a rights issue…

As you can see, that’s quite a line-up of talent contributing to this book – if you want to hear about Rhode’s tribulations in compiling it, then do take a look at Curtis Evans’ Masters Of The Humdrum Mystery, which also includes some potential other titles, suggested by Dorothy L Sayers – I won’t spoil any of them for you other than Detective Ditty-Bag. If only…

Anyway, as a number of these stories have remained pretty obscure, I thought I’d take a look at them (as I was lucky enough to come across an affordable copy of the collection on eBay recently).But there are loads to get through, thirty-five in total, so I’m going to split this up into five posts, covering seven stories each.

But before I start off, it’s worth noting the two introductions.

Rhode’s only contribution in writing to the volume is his foreword, detailing a little of the history of the Detection Club. The introduction by A A Milne, author of a single detective novel, The Red House Mystery, is a fascinating little piece.

“An invitation to contribute to this book finds me with nothing creative to offer, but with a few gentle grievances to air.”

He proceeds to discuss why amateur detectives are so ill-mannered (citing Holmes as being a paragon of politeness compared to current detectives such as Dr Priestley, Reggie Fortune and Sir Clinton Driffield), why the police never listen to the amateur no matter how many cases they have solved in the past, and why he always identifies with the detective in the mystery novel, when this does not happen with the lead in any other sort of book. It’s an interesting little piece, fascinating to see Milne’s opinion on aspects of the genre.

Anyway, I’ll be back in my next post with the first seven items from the book. See you then. The links to the articles are below:

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