In the Shadow of Agatha Christie highlights female writers of crime fiction from 1850-1917. These writers opened the door for the golden age, 1920-1939, of detective fiction led by many female authors like Christie, Margery Allingham, Ngaio Marsh, and Dorothy L. Sayers. The introduction gives a comprehensive history of pre-golden age female writers. Unfortunately, not all are represented in the sixteen stories in this book. Here is the list of stories and authors within this collection:
The Advocate’s Wedding Day by Catherine Crowe
The Squire’s Story by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
Traces of Crime by Mary Fortune
Mr. Furbush by Harriet Prescott Spofford
Mrs. Todhetley’s Earrings by Ellen Wood
Catching a Burglar by Elizabeth Corbett
The Ghost of Fountain Lane by C. L. Pirkis
The Statement of Jared Johnson by Geraldine Bonner
Point in Morals by Ellen Glasgow
The Blood-Red Cross by L. T. Meade and Robert Eustace
The Regent’s Park Murder by Baroness Orczy
The Case of the Registered Letter by Augusta Groner
The Winning Sequence by M. E. Braddon
Missing; Page Thirteen by Anna Katherine Green
The Adventure of the Clothes-Line by Carolyn Wells
Jury of Her Peers by Susan Glaspell
The quality and links to what is considered crime fiction today (murder, detective, ability to guess the solution) varies widely. The stories generally are presented in date order with the oldest first. The older stories are not necessarily the best stories but included mostly for seemingly historic reasons (the first female author’s story, the first female detective, etc.) The best story is the last, Jury of her Peers, which alone is worth picking up this book.
Overall, In the Shadow of Agatha Christie is more suited for readers interested in the history of female crime authors than Agatha Christie fans. 3 stars.
Thanks to the publisher, Pegasus Books, and NetGalley for an advance reader’s copy.