Chapter 2 deals with "The Birth of the Golden Age" (Golden Age: Mystery-writing appearing--and becoming immensely popular--between the World Wars). the chapter itself is short, and gives way to six essays on six different books published between 1913 and 1922; this material, when taken as a whole, gets into subject matter such as World War One causing readers to demand escapism, from which sprang evolving notions of the "fair play" Mystery novel which allows readers to play a sort of game--that is, soak up legitimate clues and match wits with a detective (both police and amateur sleuths cropping up). maps begin to appear as aids to readers' own detection efforts--and several other tropes are being established early on, by the novels of this period (I was going to mention a few more trends coming to the fore at this early stage...but it turns out some of my Booklikes friends are planning to read this book as a group later this month, and so, you know what?, I have hurriedly re-thought my approach to Updates on this book!). suffice it to say that Martin Edwards quickly establishes that there are specific facets of Crime & Mystery novels that can be pointed out and tracked back to these early examples. most of this stuff we just take for granted now...but it all started a long time ago.
of the six books discussed as accompaniment to Chapter 2, I have only read two: Trent's Last Case, and The Skeleton Key by Bernard Capes (my recent edition of this book is actually called The Mystery of the Skeleton Key). they are both easy to recommend, and very enjoyable, but I found I couldn't quite bump the Capes book up to 4 Stars; his style is not the most wooden I've come across as I sample these old gems--many now suddenly available after many years of limbo--but it leans towards adequate, rather than lively and passionate. Trent's Last Case is--to my mind--more of a must-read. as for the Freeman Wills Crofts novel discussed--The Cask--it sounds very tempting, especially since I have recently bought four of his 'Inspector French" novels and read two already, with fairly rewarding results; I must go out of my way to recommend Inspector French And The Starvel Hollow Tragedy, which kept me riveted. but, be aware: again, Crofts' prose style is in no way flamboyant, and I know that for some of you reading from this period, the lackluster styles of these efforts are dragging them down for you, no matter how clever the puzzles can be (I think I'm just generally more lenient in this area; Death in the Tunnel reactions around Booklikes, not too long ago, being a prime example of how people can assign demerit points for different things, based on personal expectations and criteria). I will say that I can see why Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham, and Ngaio Marsh have stayed so popular, while many others--certainly many of the men--have fallen to the wayside: bring it to LIFE, dear writer! describe! energize! bring the passion! don't just put your puzzle on a conveyor belt.