Lionel Davidson Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Lionel Davidson’s novels are well-crafted thrillers that vary in setting, point of view, and theme. Davidson skillfully depicted scenes in London, Israel, Germany, and Prague, capturing the idiosyncratic speech in each country. His heroes, often cranky bachelors, enjoy drink and women. Although Davidson coolly poked fun at his heroes and their adventures, some of his novels also consider historical themes and social issues and are suspenseful and humorous. In The Chelsea Murders (1978), he treats the genre of the murder mystery itself with irony. In all of his novels, there is an engaging intellectual component.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Davidson, Lionel. “A Sudden Smile.” In Julian Symons Remembered: Tributes from Friends, collected by Jack Walsdorf and Kathleen Symons. Council Bluffs, Iowa: Yellow Barn Press, 1996. Davidson’s homage to his fellow mystery writer reveals his own investments in the craft of fiction.

James, Michael. “A Writer After a Good Hiding: Lionel Davidson.” The Times, March 12, 1994. Describes Davidson’s background and notes his successful The Night of Wenceslas as bringing gritty new realism to the thriller. His sixteen-year absence from writing ended with the publication of Kolymsky Heights. Davidson said he started two other books during his hiatus but abandoned them because he felt they were not good enough.

Priestman, Martin, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Crime Fiction. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Critical study consisting of fifteen overview essays devoted to specific genres or periods within crime fiction. Contains a chapter on thrillers, which sheds light on Davidson’s work. Bibliographic references and index.

Scaggs, John. Crime Fiction. New York: Routledge, 2005. Contains chapters on police procedurals and crime thrillers, which help place Davidson’s work in context.