(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Christianna Brand may be considered a pioneer of the medical thriller, as her highly honored 1944 novel Green for Danger preceded by decades the popular works of Patricia Cornwell and Robin Cook. Indeed, H. R. F. Keating called it the finest novel of the Golden Age of mystery fiction. Her detective fiction illustrates the dictum of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel that a change in quantity may become transformed into a change in quality. The standard British mystery emphasized complex plotting in which the reader was challenged to decipher the clues to the perpetrator of the crime.

Brand’s works took the emphasis on surprise to new heights: Sometimes the key to the story emerged only with the novel’s last line. Few readers proved able to match wits with her Inspector Cockrill, and if he was not present, she had other ways to fool the audience. On one occasion, she “gave away” the story by a subtle clue in the first paragraph. Also, many of her books show an irrepressible humor that she carried to much further lengths than most of her contemporaries.

Christianna Brand Bibliography

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Barnard, Robert. “The Slightly Mad, Mad World of Christianna Brand.” The Armchair Detective 19, no. 3 (Summer, 1986): 238-243. Discusses the off-kilter nature of Brand’s stories and characters and their importance to her overall work.

Brand, Christianna. “Inspector Cockrill.” In The Great Detectives, edited by Otto Penzler. Boston: Little, Brown, 1978. Brand’s own description of her most famous and successful character.

Briney, Robert E. “The World of Christianna Brand.” In Buffet for Unwelcome Guests: The Best Short Mysteries of Christianna Brand, edited by Francis M. Nevins, Jr., and Martin H. Greenberg. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1983. An examination of the internal logic and character of the world generated by Brand’s fiction, as well as the relationship between that world and the mysteries, detectives, and murderers that inhabit it.

Klein, Kathleen Gregory, ed. Great Women Mystery Writers: Classic to Contemporary. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994. Contains an essay that examines the life and writings of Brand.

Malmgren, Carl D. Anatomy of Murder: Mystery, Detective, and Crime Fiction. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 2001. Discusses Brand’s London Particular. Bibliographic references and index.

Penzler, Otto. “In Memoriam, 1907-1988.” The Armchair Detective 21, no. 3 (Summer, 1998): 228-230. An obituary and appreciation of Brand, detailing her place in the history of British detective fiction.

Penzler, Otto. “The Works of Christianna Brand.” In Green for Danger. Topanga, Calif.: Boulevard, 1978. An overview of the author’s work, provided as a foreword to an edition of her most famous and most popular detective novel.

Rowland, Susan. From Agatha Christie to Ruth Rendell: British Women Writers in Detective and Crime Fiction. New York: Palgrave, 2001. Discusses several of Brand’s colleagues. A good source on the conventions of the genre and the context of Brand’s contributions to it. Bibliographic references and index.

Symons, Julian, ed. The Hundred Best Crime Stories. London: The Sunday Times, 1959. Places Brand as the author of one of the hundred best crime stories of all time.