The Floating Admiral

The Floating Admiral

Book - 2011
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Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, G.K. Chesterton and nine other writers from the legendary Detection Club collaborate in this fiendishly clever but forgotten crime novel first published 80 years ago.

Inspector Rudge does not encounter many cases of murder in the sleepy seaside town of Whynmouth. But when an old sailor lands a rowing boat containing a fresh corpse with a stab wound to the chest, the Inspector's investigation immediately comes up against several obstacles. The vicar, whose boat the body was found in, is clearly withholding information, and the victim's niece has disappeared. There is clearly more to this case than meets the eye - even the identity of the victim is called into doubt. Inspector Rudge begins to wonder just how many people have contributed to this extraordinary crime and whether he will ever unravel it...

In 1931, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and ten other crime writers from the newly-formed 'Detection Club' collaborated in publishing a unique crime novel. In a literary game of consequences, each author would write one chapter, leaving G.K. Chesterton to write a typically paradoxical prologue and Anthony Berkeley to tie up all the loose ends. In addition, each of the authors provided their own solution in a sealed envelope, all of which appeared at the end of the book, with Agatha Christie's ingenious conclusion acknowledged at the time to be 'enough to make the book worth buying on its own'.

The authors of this novel are: G. K. Chesterton, Canon Victor Whitechurch, G. D. H. Cole and Margaret Cole, Henry Wade, Agatha Christie, John Rhode, Milward Kennedy, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ronald Knox, Freeman Wills Crofts, Edgar Jepson, Clemence Dane and Anthony Berkeley.

Publisher: London : HarperCollins, c2011
Edition: 80th anniversary ed
ISBN: 9780007414468
Branch Call Number: FLOA
Characteristics: viii, 309 p. : map ; 19 cm


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Nov 15, 2012

The Floating Admiral is the result of a bit of amusement by a number of the leading detective story writers of the early '30s. Agatha Christie, G.K. Chesterton, Dorothy Sayers and others passed-on each succeeding chapter to the writer next on the list in a sort of writing relay without help of either overall outline or goal except that each succeeding chapter must advance the plot without ignoring the details of the preceding chapters. Of course, the final chapter must tie-up all that went before. All the writers are quite talented and the mechanics of the stories are at a high standard. No clue is left behind. But without an agreed-to outline, the story does meander a bit. The ending does tie-up loose ends, but the overall package is bit bulky and not very elegant. As a mystery novel, it is a bit ho-hum. But as a game, it is fun to follow the ingenuity of writers like Agatha Christie or Ronald Knox. A pretty good read.

Dec 20, 2011

An odd little book, but enjoyable. This is a kind of "progressive novel": a club of mystery writers each did a chapter in sequence. So you've got a range of styles, and some odd shifts as one of the authors didn't like the direction the narrative was taking, and directed it off another way entirely. Not necessarily an easy read, but interesting to see the progress and development. (And, some pretty good writing, too :-)

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