Tuesday, April 9, 2013

TRENT'S LAST CASE: Great Mystery or Not?

Second readings of a book can be so worthwhile.  I had this experience not long ago when I re-read the classic Golden Age detective novel, TRENT'S LAST CASE, by E.C. Bentley.  Published in 1913, the novel was praised by mystery writer giants such as Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christie.  G.K. Chesterton, the creator of Father Brown, called it "the finest detective story of modern times."  But when I read it as a teenager (long ago) I wasn't exactly dazzled.  Still, what about a second reading of it?  I picked the book up 35 years later, read it through, and this time I had quite a different reaction.  What changed? 

Though I read a lot of mysteries from the Golden Age period of detective novels when I was younger, I rarely read them anymore now.  I pretty much got my fill years ago of elaborately plotted, rather contrived murders taking place in drawing rooms, libraries, and country estates.  So I might have expected to like TRENT'S LAST CASE even less now than then.  Strange. Well, I thought so anyway, and I wrote a piece about these two readings 35 years apart over at Criminal Element.  Check it out.