Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Trench Wordfare

We’re currently standing between the 100th anniversaries of two globally significant events. On June 28, 1914, Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated while visiting Sarajevo, Bosnia, igniting fierce tensions between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Balkan states that led to the start of World War I just a month later, on July 28, 1914. That conflict lasted for more than four years and left some 30 million people dead or wounded. It also created animosities in Europe that would not go away with the 1918 armistice, but that erupted two decades later in World War II.

Recently I started to look back at the impact World War I has had on crime, mystery, and thriller fiction. I thought it might be fairly minimal; after all, most of the stories I could think of in this genre that employ international hostilities as a significant backdrop--those written by Philip Kerr, J.Robert Janes, Alan Furst, David Downing, James R. Benn, and their like--seem to root them in the Second World War. But as I dug deeper, and requested reader assistance through The Rap Sheet’s Facebook page, I realized the breadth of World War I-related mystery fiction is actually quite great. Not only did Arthur Conan Doyle contribute to it, but so have authors such as Anne Perry, Charles Todd, Edward Marston, Agatha Christie, and Robert Ryan.

The results of all that research are shown in my new column for Kirkus Reviews, which you will find by clicking here.

READ MORE:World War I, 100 Years Later: Incredible Images and Facts,” by Tom Griggs (The Airship); “Agatha Christie and Reflections on the Effects of World War I,” by Kerrie Smith (Mysteries in Paradise).

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