Detecting the Detectives

Here’s a fun thing for a Monday morning. I was listening to Paul Temple Intervenes (1942) last night (I luuurve Paul Temple) where Paul examines a bookcase to find works by Dorothy L Sayers, Agatha Christie, E Phillips Oppenheim, Freeman Wills Crofts, Edgar Wallace and Edgar Allan Poe.

Which set me wondering: how many Golden Age crime writers refer to other crime writers (or their characters) in their books? I’m not counting the Detection Club ‘round robin’ novels, or any references to Sherlock Holmes (because we’d be here all day). This is a million miles short of a definitive list, it’s just the ones that I could think of off the top of my head this morning.

Agatha Christie: let’s ignore Partners in Crime, which is a collection of parodies. There’s The Clocks, where Poirot refers to The Leavenworth Case by Anna Katharine Green and The Mystery of the Yellow Room by Gaston Leroux. Appointment With Death, while mentioning no names, implies a character’s actions are inspired by Dorothy L Sayers’s Unnatural Death. My favourite reference, however, is in The Body in the Library, where a young boy refers to having the autographs of Dorothy L Sayers, John Dickson Carr, HC Bailey… and Agatha Christie! (NB I did some scribbling about my HC Bailey love in a guest blog here, should you be interested:

In Dorothy L Sayers’s The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, Wimsey discovers books by Isabel Ostrander, Edgar Wallace and R Austin Freeman (specifically mentioning A Silent Witness) on a suspect’s bookcase. (“The girl’s been indulging in an orgy of crime!”)

Last one I can think of right now is in Freeman Wills Crofts’s The Box Office Murders, where Inspector French ‘longed for the skill of Dr Thorndyke’ (R Austin Freeman’s protagonist).

Please add to the list if you can!