(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

In the Arthur Crook novels, Anthony Gilbert (Lucy Beatric Malleson) develops a protagonist very different from the fashionable detective favored by her contemporaries. Tough and resourceful but lacking the elegance of Dorothy L. Sayers’s or Ngaio Marsh’s heroes, Crook has the earthy vitality of a Charles Dickens character, and he remains essentially himself, despite whatever complicated action swirls around him. The Crook novels move rapidly and present a vivid and recognizable picture of everyday London life. The characters, especially the minor ones, are sketched with quick, sure strokes, and they arouse the reader’s sympathetic interest. Gilbert’s plots are ingenious and complex; she avoids involvement with legal intricacies but presents clues fairly. Although the volume of her production makes uneven workmanship inevitable, the best of the Arthur Crook novels are entertaining, carefully crafted, and satisfying in their mixture of action and humor.

Anthony Gilbert Bibliography

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Bakerman, Jane S. “Bowlers, Beer, Bravado, and Brains: Anthony Gilbert’s Arthur Crook.” The Mystery FANcier 2 (July, 1978): 5-13. A profile of Gilbert’s most famous character, cataloging his distinctive traits and analyzing his personal style.

Moore, Lewis D. Cracking the Hard-Boiled Detective: A Critical History from the 1920’s to the Present. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2006. Rare study that treats both the American and the British versions of the hard-boiled detective, providing useful context for the rough-edged Arthur Crook character. Bibliographic references and index.

Scaggs, John. Crime Fiction. New York: Routledge, 2005. Contains chapters on early mystery and detective fiction and the hard-boiled mode, which help put Gilbert’s novels in perspective.

Wakeman, John, ed. “Anthony Gilbert.” In World Authors, 1950-1970. New York: Wilson, 1975. Gilbert is profiled in this massive list of the writers of the world and their accomplishments.