H.C. Bailey’s Reggie Fortune and the Golden Age of Detective Fiction


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About the Book

H.C. Bailey’s detective Reggie Fortune was one of the most popular protagonists of the Golden Age of detective fiction. Fortune appeared in nine novels yet it was in a series of 84 short stories that were published from 1920 to 1940 where he truly shone, combining elements of several popular archetypes—the eccentric logician, the forensic investigator, the hard-boiled interrogator, the psychological profiler, the defender of justice. This critical study examines the Fortune stories in the context of other popular detective fiction of the era. Bailey’s classics are distinguished by well-clued puzzles, brilliant sleuthing, vivid description and social critique, with Fortune evoking images of Don Quixote and the Arthurian Knights in his pursuit of truth and justice in an uncaring world.

About the Author(s)

Laird R. Blackwell is a humanities professor emeritus at Sierra Nevada College in the Lake Tahoe area of western Nevada, where he taught psychology and literature for 31 years. He is the author of four critical studies of detective fiction for McFarland and the recipient of nominations for an Edgar Award and an Agatha Award.

Bibliographic Details

Laird R. Blackwell

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 188
Bibliographic Info: appendices, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7069-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2958-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v
Preface 1
Introduction: The Golden Age of Detective Fiction 5
1. Detective Types of the Golden Age 13
2. The Eccentric Thinking Machine 16
3. The Scientist 32
4. The Psychologist 37
5. The Defender of Justice 49
6. The Philosopher 56
7. The Erudite Scholar 61
8. The Aristocrat 67
9. The ­Hard-Boiled 71
10. Literary Elements Exemplified by Golden Age Detective Fiction 75
11. Fortune Compared with Other Popular Detectives 90
12. The Fall from Fortune 140
13. The Archetype of the Reluctant Knight of the Rueful Countenance 150
Appendix A: The Most Memorable Golden Age Detective Stories 157
Appendix B: Reggie Fortune Short Story Collections and Novels 161
Works Cited 163
Index 171

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Impressively well informed…outstanding…unreservedly recommended”—Midwest Book Review
  • “Examines detective story author H.C. Bailey’s character Reggie Fortune in the context of Golden Age detective fiction from the late 1910s and the middle of the 1940s”—ProtoView