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Extra resources for 100 Masters of Mystery and Detective Fiction (Magill's Choice)
Eames, Hugh. : Studies of Problem Solvers, Doyle, Simenon, Hammett, Ambler, Chandler. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1978. Lambert, Gavin. The Dangerous Edge. New York: Grossman, 1976. Lewis, Peter. Eric Ambler. New York: Continuum, 1990. McCormick, Donald. Who’s Who in Spy Fiction. London: Elm Tree Books, 1977. Panek, LeRoy L. The Special Branch: The British Spy Novel, 1890-1980. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1981. Wolfe, Peter. Alarms and Epitaphs: The Art of Eric Ambler.
Trent’s tangible presence derives from his background and his circumstances being so close to those of his creator. Sigsbee Manderson’s passing is regretted only by those who stood to lose money by it. One of those who did not was his wife. Nevertheless, Mabel Manderson is the antithesis of all the double-crossing dames brought to a peak of perfection if not credibility by Hammett and Chandler and subsequently parodied in the espionage stories of the Cold War. Goodness, as John Milton and others have found, is harder to embody than evil.
The reading public was entranced by someone who had all the answers, someone for whom the grimmest, grimiest, and most gruesome aspects of life—murder most foul—could be tidied up, dusted off, and safely divested of their most dire threats so that life could continue peaceful, placid, and prosperous. Anthony Berkeley entered the increasingly fertile field of mysteries, becoming a major figure with the 1925 publication of the often-reprinted short story “The Avenging Chance,” which featured detective Roger Sheringham, on whom his author bestowed the worst of all possible characteristics of insufferable amateur sleuths.