The World Cup of Golden Age Mystery Writers – Round Two

Round One is over!

Before we launch into the head-to-head rounds, we should mention the major dramas so far. Group One had a dead heat between fourth and fifth between Earl Derr Biggers and Henry Wade. In the interests of fairness, I tossed a coin and Wade won, so he’s through to the next round. Just. George Bellairs won the battle of the recently reprinted authors, ousting both Christopher Bush and Richard Hull in Group Two. The interest in Group Three came in who came second, with Georgette Heyer and Gladys Mitchell switching places on a regular basis – Heyer just pipped her – similarly in Group Four, Ngaio Marsh just pipped Cyril Hare for the same position. Group Five was the closest of all the groups, with Michael Innes edging R Austin Freeman for second place, and Patrick Quentin knocking out Philip MacDonald by a mere two votes. Craig Rice and E R Punshon came joint last, but with the highest number of votes for that position in any group. Group Six was claimed to be the Group of Death, but to be honest, the first four places here were constant from Day One. The biggest shock, to me at least, was Group Seven, with Patricia Wentworth knocking out John Rhode! It’s a good thing Brian Flynn took a comfortable third place in Group One, or I’d think you were all out to annoy me… Also second and third were again very tight here, with Margery Allingham just edging Nicholas Blake. Finally Group Eight was the battle of the Anthonys, with Gilbert edging Boucher for third place.

You should be able to see the full results if you go to the original post – if I’ve clicked the right buttons…

Anyway, on to the knockout rounds.

I spent a while seeding this carefully – basically I seeded the groups based on the votes received for the winning author but I’m not going into any more detail than that, as I really can’t be bothered to start a discussion on seeding techniques. Trust me, it’s as fair as it can be.

Remember, you are basing this on how much you enjoyed reading anything by the author, not for any imagined or otherwise contribution to the genre. I want to see which authors you genuinely enjoy reading. You can consider the whole canon or a single title. If you’ve only read something by one author, vote for them if you liked it, abstain if it was so-so but only vote for the other person if you really hated the first author…

OK, here we go – these are in no particular order so don’t bother to try and work out who plays who in the next round…

This round will close at 6pm GMT on Sunday. Off you go…


  1. Oh, heartbreaking votes to have to make. I also abstained in several just because I haven’t read enough of either in a group to make a choice or because it was an impossible choice to make. But, oh, pitting Bellairs against Crispin and (If I now remember correctly which I might not. Whatever, that round was exceptionally hard) Innes against Lorac (?), two of my favorites! I voted against Christie, of course, just to be contrary. This is starting to feel like Strictly Come Dancing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry to see AEW Mason go. Definitely a favourite. Good news QPQ goes on. MysteriousPress has just released a new bunch of Stagge books in Kindle. They are on sale right now $2.


    Liked by 2 people

      • Hope you downloaded, “The Scarlet Circle”. That is my favourite of the Stagge pseudonym novels. Dawn as usual is a bit annoying, but other than that I liked this one very much.


      • I very much enjoyed it as well. However, I thought Dawn was cute rather than annoying.


      • I don’t think that was one of the two so I’ll look into it. Starting with Book 1 and I already am slightly annoyed by Dawn but maybe I’ll warm up to her. I’m not delighted by most children in mysteries (some of my friends would point out that I’m that way in real life for the most part).


      • I am reading Scarlet Circle right now. This is about my 12th or 13th QPQ but only my second of the Stagge books.
        I rather like Dawn. A strength of QPQ is creating a fully realized place and atmosphere, and she is part of that.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Most of these are no-brainers.
    Match 1: Agatha Christie (Quentin’s good, but the Queen of Crime is peerless)
    Match 2: Dorothy L. Sayers (vs. Wentworth? – ha!)
    Match 3: Margery Allingham (an easy choice, vs. Flynn)
    Match 4: Brand vs. Freeman! Brand was one of the best cluers and plotters, although maddeningly arch, while Freeman introduced science to the detective story, invented the inverted, and made the genre respectable. Freeman it is.
    Match 5: Anthony Gilbert (uneven, but she’s livelier and more ambitious than the competent, conventional Heyer)
    Match 6: Simenon vs. Hare – I’ve enjoyed the few Simenons I’ve read, but haven’t read enough; I went for Hare
    Match 7: Josephine Tey (overrated, and a much better character writer than a mystery plotter; but I haven’t read Gardner, and don’t intend to)
    Match 8: Berkeley (I like Boucher, but he only wrote a handful of books, all entertaining works in the Carr/Queen line; Berkeley was an often-brilliant innovator)
    Match 9: McCloy (I don’t like Stout)
    Match 10: Queen (Wade’s early ones are good, in the Croftsian line, and his characterization is superior to most humdrums, but I don’t like his later police procedurals)
    Match 11: Blake (easy; he’s one of my favourites, although I do enjoy Lorac, a sound second-tier writer)
    Match 12: Innes (no question; Crofts was historically important, and The Cask and Starvel are excellent – but Innes had style, imagination, and wit)
    Match 13: Gladys Mitchell vs G.K. Chesterton. That one gave me pause. Two of my very favourite writers; Chesterton was the most brilliant stylist and the most ingenious short story writer; there’s a depth to his works more conventional detective writers lack. But I couldn’t not vote for Mitchell.
    Match 14: Marsh. (Sprigg is amiable, but a minor writer.)
    Match 15: Crispin (I haven’t read Bellairs)
    Match 16: Carr (very easy; besides, I don’t like Bruce)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, not so sure. I’ve never been all that impressed with Allingham. And while Flynn sometimes makes me nuts (see The Creeping Jenny Mystery—which I pretty much hated with all my heart and soul), I would vote for him above Allingham. I can’t be the only one…


      • I think I’m in a similar mind about the two. I can’t really remember the Allingham’s I read (so perhaps time for a reread). Flynn isn’t “fun” to me, really, but, like Innes, he often challenges and sometimes delights me so I go back for more, despite some disappointments (still haven’t made it through League of Matthias and with Innes I’ve gotten to page 450 of Stop Press and haven’t managed to finish the last 50 pages).


      • I think you struck unlucky with Allingham.

        Death of a Ghost is the first of her “sophisticated”, arty milieu 1930s novels; enjoyable, but not the best of that period.

        Traitor’s Purse is atypical, and really requires you to have read the previous novels, and to understand Campion and Amanda’s relationship. Probably one of the worst places to start with her!

        I’d suggest:
        Police at the Funeral (multiple murders in repressed Cambridge family)
        Flowers for the Judge (publishing courtroom mystery, with a minor impossibility)
        Dancers in Mourning (Campion in love)
        The Case of the Late Pig (novella narrated by Campion, ingenious method and scheme)
        The Fashion in Shrouds (great, but maybe not to your taste; it’s the late Sayers Novel vein)
        More Work for the Undertaker (more eccentrics, in London)
        Hide My Eyes (a memorable study in evil and protective love)

        Allingham wrote wonderfully, and her people and places are vivid.

        There’s also a BBC series with Peter Davison as Campion.


      • I very much liked the series with Davison so I clearly need to go back to reading more. I have a couple of Folio editions I haven’t even cracked open yet. Thanks for the recommendations.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. 1. The mighty Christie
    3.No vote
    4 Freeman
    5.No vote
    8 Berkeley
    16.The Mighty Carr

    Liked by 1 person

    • HQ = EQ, as in Ellery Queen, not headquarters.
      Brand vs Freeman was the hardest choice, but Freeman, as Nick put it, was a pretty good writer and an innovator. Brand wrote many serviceable novels, but she was the opposite, way too nineteenth century (though that’s back in style nowadays) and her characters and drama irk me a bit. I’ve found Fog of Doubt, for instance, annoying.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Eek, some of these pairings! My answers have to be skewed towards what I read decades ago I think. AC is easy first place lifetime, but less so in the past 30 years. Read them all young! And EQ scores highly but my experience with him in recent years has been unhappy.

    I did toss QPQ a vote, rather like that faithless elector who decided only Washington should win unanimously. If it’s 873 to 1 you know why.

    Simenon I have only enjoyed recently, in the new translations, and plan to read in French so he gets a vote.

    I enjoyed one Flynn, not enough to read more, but more than the one Allingham.

    Gardner for sure. Iles. GKC. Stout. Brand but that is the hardest pairing. Carr.


    Liked by 1 person

  6. Brilliant poll that gets readers engaged on GAD triggering the desire to read and reread even more of these authors. Well done even if AC or JDC wins easily, sharing insights on the breadth of GAD can only be a good thing for all of us.

    Now to vote in what some cases feels like “Sophie’s Choice” by William Styron.


  7. So I ranked everyone on basis of total votes recieved and there were three unlucky authors who finished inside top 32 but missed out on qualification because of tougher groups:-

    1) AA Milne (54 votes, Rank 31)
    2) Philip Macdonald (55 votes, Rank30)
    3) John Rhode (57 votes, Joint Rank 27)

    The three lucky authors who replaced them were:-

    1) Anthony Boucher (52 votes, Rank33)
    2) George Bellaris (46 votes, Rank 34)
    3) Henry Wade(44 votes, Joint Rank 36)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Doesn’t really matter. Boucher, Bellairs, Wade all 3 will go out this round due to their formidable opponents.


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