Darwin L. Teilhet Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Darwin L. Teilhet used the classical, fair-play form of the detective story in ways that had rarely been successful with earlier authors. Like some later writers, he based his first books on current events and issues, and thereby produced The Talking Sparrow Murders (1934), the greatest detective novel (and one of the most powerful novels in any genre) about the Nazi takeover of Germany. Unlike most mystery writers of the 1930’s, who were political and social conservatives, Teilhet throughout his life was a liberal, a fact that adds a special flavor to his books, especially those about Baron von Kaz. In these novels, he includes acute criticisms of overzealous patriotism in the United States as well as attacks on anti-Semitism. The baron, moreover, is probably the most convincing of all humorous detectives. His constant pride lands him in difficulties, but the reader sympathizes with him. The reader understands why he acts as he does, and his foibles are amusing because, though exaggerated, they are human.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Greene, Douglas G. “The Demoniacal St. Amand and the Brave Baron von Kaz.” The Armchair Detective 15 (Summer, 1982): 219-233. Profiles Teilhet’s two most memorable sleuths, comparing them to each other as well as to other famous fictional detectives.

Greene, Douglas G. Introduction to Teilhet’s The Talking Sparrow Murders. New York: International Polygonics, 1985. Introduction to a reprint edition of Teilhet’s mystery set in Nazi Germany discusses its relationship to history and topical fiction, as well as to the mystery and detective genre.

Horsley, Lee. Twentieth-Century Crime Fiction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. Very useful overview of the history and parameters of the crime-fiction genre; helps place Teilhet’s work within that genre.

Teilhet, Darwin L. “How Some Adventure Stories Are and Are Not Written.” The Writer 57 (June, 1944): 167-169. Brief piece by Teilhet that provides insight into his writing process and his thoughts about the craft of fiction.