Contribution

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

At a time when British crime fiction exerted a strong influence on American writers, Peter Cheyney was the first British author to show that he was influenced by crime fiction in the United States. His novels about tough G-man Lemmy Caution and private eye Slim Callaghan combined fast action with surprises. A popular mystery writer with no literary pretensions, Cheyney sold more than 1.5 million books in 1944 alone. An examination of his popularity shows that he was versatile in the ways he could entertain his large audience. As he progressed, his writing became more subtle, and in his Dark series near the end of his career, Cheyney produced books that vividly conveyed a picture of the divided world of wartime espionage and its cynicism, violence, and double-crosses.

Bibliography

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Harrison, Michael. Peter Cheyney, Prince of Hokum: A Biography. London: N. Spearman, 1954. At more than three hundred pages, this is by far the most comprehensive source on Cheyney’s life and career.

Horsley, Lee. The Noir Thriller. New York: Palgrave, 2001. Scholarly, theoretically informed study of the thriller genre. Includes readings of Cheyney’s Dames Don’t Care, Can Ladies Kill?, and You’d Be Surprised.

Roth, Marty. Foul and Fair Play: Reading Genre in Classic Detective Fiction. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995. A post-structuralist analysis of the conventions of mystery and detective fiction. Examines 138 short stories and works from the 1840’s to the 1960’s. Briefly mentions Cheyney and helps readers place him within the context of the genre.