I've been keeping distinguished company lately. The Daily Mail, one of England's national newspapers, had a column of suggestions for summer reading, under the heading Classic Crime.
First came Margery Allingham's The Tiger in the Smoke. Allingham's name is familiar to anyone who enjoys the mystery fiction of the so-called Golden Age. Her protagonist, Albert Campion, is similar to Dorothy Sayers' Peter Wimsey in that he has an upper-class background and hides his keen brain behind a facade of foolishness. The columnist says of this book:
"Allingham was well
established as a leading light of crime fiction when she came to write
Tiger In The Smoke. All the signs are of a gifted writer aiming higher
than the formulaic mystery novel."
Second in the list is Georges Simenon, creator of Maigret, surely the best known and most translated French detective ever, to English speakers/readers. The book chosen is titled simply Maigret, and was intended to be the last in a long series that the author was growing tired of. However,
"In the event, Simenon did not give up on
Maigret. After this eponymous novel there were another 56 mysteries for
his hero to solve. Penguin is republishing them in new translations at a
rate of one a month, an inestimable service to classic crime."
And third cometh moi, with the 22nd and most recent Daisy Dalrymple mystery, Superfluous Women.
"Strict feminists may not like the title.
How can there be too many women? But the phrase, though derogatory, is
based on historical truth: the plight of young women who lost their
chance of marriage and family in the slaughter of the Great War...Superfluous Women is a good yarn with a strong period setting — spot on for relaxed summer reading."