(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.