Everyone knows what a huge fan of golden age mysteries I am. Little pleases me more than finding one I’ve not read either, in a second hand shop or among the latest batch of re-issues. They have to be read with understanding of the era they were written in, though – the past was another country.
I just about tolerated Josephine Tey’s “The Man in the Queue” even though it was terribly xenophobic and the continual use of “the Dago” to describe the unknown suspect (as well as the stuff about the method of murder being un-British) began to grate.
I’ve just finished one of the “Wallace” spy books from the 1930’s, which I started with high hopes as it read a bit like one of the adventure stories for boys I so like. However, the levels of xenophobia, homophobia and the excruciating chief villain who was – yes – disabled, was too much, even for my “remember the context” reading. In the end I devised my own back story for one of the spies (deeply closeted homosexual, hiding it behind condemnation of anything camp) which began to accord really well with the text, much to my amusement.
No more Wallaces for me, unless they come with a Gromit.