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Friday, August 10, 2012


If you’re a writer of detective fiction or someone who loves a good detective mystery, then you’ll want to learn all you can about the “Big Four” female detective writers from the 20s and 30s. Their combined work has sold in the billions. Okay, let’s take the leader out of the picture since her work has sold over 4 billion copies. That still leaves millions of books sold, which means there are millions of fans, which means millions of buyers. That ain’t chump change.

   1)      Number one on the list is Agatha Christie (1890 – 1976). Creator of two of the best-loved detectives, Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple. She wrote the best-selling mystery of all time and one of the best-selling books of all time, And Then There Were None, selling over 100 million copies.

   2)      Dorothy L. Sayers (1893 – 1957). Creator of one of the great detectives of the “Golden Age,” Lord Peter Wimsey—sophisticated, witty and with a high social standing. Sayers was also a translator, translating Dante’s Divine Comedy, and a feminist.

   3)      Margery Allingham (1904-1966). Creator of the detective, Albert Campion, the champion of 17 novels and 20 short stories.

   4)      Ngaio Marsh (1895-1982). She wrote 32 detective novels, featuring Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn. Marsh loved the theater and it’s not surprising that it is featured in several of her mysteries.