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When I was in a production of And Then There Were None in 1982 in the seaside resort of Southwold — I played the housekeeper who (spoiler alert!) dies in the opening scene — it was still going under its politically incorrect title of Ten Little Niggers. Even at the time we thought that was a bad idea, but the producer of this seaside rep was insistent.

I very much enjoyed watching the BBC’s giallo-inspired, and star packed, dramatisation of And Then There were None, released in the UK over the Christmas break. A superior piece of storytelling, the production was praised for re-invigorating the Christie formula, stripping back the fustiness to let the sheer bloodthirstiness of the piece shine through.

The series made me wonder whether “the golden age” of detective fiction as popularised in the 1920’s and 30’s in itself deserved something of a re-appraisal. Although extremely popular, the particular brand of English country house detective story epitomised by And then There Were None, has never enjoyed critical approval.

As Raymond Chandler put it in his classic essay on The Simple Art Of Murder, “the classic detective story, has learned nothing and forgotten nothing”.  While some authors may be better stylists than others, the same cast of…

Source: Agatha Christie and “cosy” crime | The Badger’s Sett


The Genealogy of Style

Cabinet of Curiosities, Domenico Remps, 1690s


The Gold-Bug is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe. The story is often compared with Poe’s “tales of ratiocination” as an early form of detective fiction. Poe became aware of the public’s interest in secret writing in 1840 and asked readers to challenge his skills as a code-breaker. Poe took advantage of the popularity of cryptography as he was writing The Gold-Bug, and the success of the story centers on one such cryptogram.

Poe originally sold The Gold-Bug to George Rex Graham for Graham’s Magazine for $52 but asked for it back when he heard about a writing contest sponsored by Philadelphia’s Dollar Newspaper. Incidentally, Poe did not return the money to Graham and instead offered to make it up to him with reviews he would write. Poe won the grand prize; in addition to winning $100, the story…

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