So far my list looks like this:
Five. Mary Roberts Reinhart’s Miss Pinkerton.
Six. Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout
Seven. The Three Coffins, also released as The Hollow Man by John Dickson Carr
Eight. The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy L. Sayers.
Nine. Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.
Ten. Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man.
My pick to join the top ten list, at number four is another British author, Anthony Berkley.
Four. The Case of the Poisoned Chocolates. Berkley wrote under several names. His first novel, The Layton Court Mystery, was published anonymously in 1925 and introduced Roger Sheringham who showed up in subsequent novels including this one. Berkley joined my list because this novel contains so many of the elements that made mysteries written during this period, truly the golden age.
Scotland Yard is stumped so six amateur sleuths, a group called the Crime Circle, seek to solve the crime. Sheringham utilizes several different methods of detection including deductive and inductive reasoning. Berkley’s writing contains subtle humor, always a plus for me, and he keeps the reader guessing until the final page.
Three. Agatha Christie joins the top ten list for a second time with one of my all-time favorites, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.
It’s difficult to talk about this classic without giving away the ending. If you haven’t read it, it’s a must. Christie at her imaginative best!
Two. Dashiell Hammett also makes the top ten list for the second time with his classic, The Maltese Falcon. The story is secondary here. It’s all about Sam Spade. Hammett must have liked this character because he gave him his first name (Samuel Dashiell Hammett.) When you read the book, you’ll note that Hammett did not have Humphrey Bogart in mind as Sam Spade, but few can think of the character without Boggy coming to mind. Although the story is secondary, the writing, particularly the dialogue is brilliant. Here’s one exchange I enjoyed.
Brigid O’Shaughnessy: I haven’t lived a good life. I’ve been bad, worse than you could know.
Sam Spade: You know, that’s good, because if you actually were as innocent as you pretend to be, we’d never get anywhere.
So there you have it, nine of the top ten novels of the Golden Age. Thanks to all of you who gave me suggestions. I hope your favorites made the list. One more, the novel I consider the top novel of the Golden Age. Can you guess?