‘These Names Make Clues’ by E.C.R. Lorac has been republished as part of the British Library Crime Classics series. It was first published in 1937, the year that the author became a member of the Detection Club, a networking and social group of detective fiction writers, founded in 1930. Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers and John Dickson Carr were all members, and it remains in existence today, with Martin Edwards at its helm.
Interestingly the plot revolves around a treasure hunt held by a publisher, where various authors are invited to solve clues, but using pseudonyms. In his introduction to the novel, Edwards points out the similarities to some of Lorac’s fellow club members. One wonders what they made of their depictions when it first came out?
When one of their number is found dead, Chief Inspector MacDonald, a participant in the game, begins an investigation into the death, and finds that the group are hiding more than just their real names. As he pits his wits against the authors, we as readers are drawn into a clever and intricate story, where no-one and nothing is quite as it seems.
I loved the setting and the time, as it was written at the height of the Golden Age of Murder fiction and perfectly epitomises all that I adore about that era. It is written in the language of the time, and is intelligently told, with clues scattered throughout. One just has to spot them. At times we are seeing the investigation from the point of view of MacDonald, other times of journalist Peter Vernon, an acquaintance of the inspector. A very enjoyable, brain-taxing read.
I was given this copy for review.