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The Floating Admiral

Page history last edited by Jon 11 years, 10 months ago

Detection Club, The - The Floating Admiral (1931)



Review by Nick Fuller


Given that this is a single novel written by thirteen authors without direction, it is surprisingly successful. With the exception of G.K. Chesterton, it is stylistically coherent, and the plot complications arise naturally out of the characters and situation (unlike Crime on the Coast), so that the plot is coherent and the murderer’s identity, under the skilful handling of Anthony Berkeley, properly inevitable. Other authors, however, make completely new solutions out of the old clues of tide and time-tables, wills, blackmail and black sheep. Indeed, the appendix is one of the highlights of the novel — Sayers’s solution is, as one would expect, the best, in direct contrast to the weakness of Milward Kennedy’s melodramatic one, which accuses an unknown ‘X’!


Note that Knox’s tabulation is necessary, but rather dull; and that Crofts is unstoppable:


The first question was: How had Mount made the journey? Mount had a car, but most persons of moderate income went by train, rail being so much cheaper for the long distance. Mount had been at the Vicarage at one o’clock, and he had rung up Rudge from the Charing Cross Hotel at nine. There were two, and only two, trains he could have used, the 2.5 from Whynmouth, which reached Waterloo at 5.45, and the 4.25 from Whynmouth, arriving at 8.35…


He had gone by the 1.30 which connected at Passfield Junction with the 11.0 a.m. express from Waterloo to the west.”


Of course, the most interesting round robin would be one written in alternating chapters by Crofts, Bailey, Allingham and Rhode.


Judged as a decent mystery it is - IMO - a near complete failure - but it remains of great interest to all fans of British GA writing because of the authors involved. It also opens the way to fascinating discussions about why it fails, the differences between the writers, whether such a collaboration is doomed to failure and so on.




See also http://www.guardian.co.uk/global/2011/may/07/floating-admiral-detection-club-christie and http://thepassingtramp.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/round-robin-murders-floating-admiral.html


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