Viz the Big House Mystery

masque Cloud 1

This words-Viz is based on the titles of  the first books published in France, in the Series “Le Masque”, from 1927. Most books were translated from the English language, as the publisher claimed (somewhat disingenuously),  that there were not enough Crime Fiction Writers in France at the time. The first author published in the series was Agatha Christie. Le Meurtre de Roger Ackroyd was published in 1927.  “Le Masque” thrived on the successes of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. The series developed amongst the French public a taste for this kind of Crime Fiction plots,  themes and situations. It spread a fascination for its settings. The “English Country House”, or the “Big house in the country”, epitomized by  Styles Court, in Christie’s first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (John Lane, 1920;  French translation, La Mystérieuse Affaire de Styles,  1932)  or in The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne  captured the imagination of  readers in Europe.  As it would, elsewhere, in novels by Daphné du Maurier,  Allingham and more.  It encapsulated neatly, in a fashionably British setting the atmosphere and  tensions of the Mystery genre:  Isolation and prejudice ; hatred veiled by good education; heavy suspicions behind facades of respectability. The spectacle of privilege, and the forgetting of exploitation. The sense of a faded grandeur and the evidence of advancing decay. The  morbid and the  gothic. “Le Masque”, more than any other French series, contributed to the circulation of such  stereotypes and would have a lasting influence on perceptions of Crime Fiction .

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