Book Review: “The Floating Admiral” by Members of the Detection Club

Please note: I first published this book review on the “Goodreads”-website in 2022.

My Rating: 2 (of 5) “stars”

The book was first published in 1931, I bought a paperback copy published in 2017 by HarperCollins Publishers.

Hugely disappointing, one of the worst mystery novels I’ve ever read.

On paper, this is an intriguing concept: 13 mystery novel writers (including Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and G. K. Chesterton) – all members of The Detection Club – wrote a crime novel together. The book was first published in 1931.

Each writer builds upon clues presented by the previous chapters’ writers and expands the story; none of the writers knows in which direction the other writers intended to take the story. Their individual solutions to the crimes committed in this story are presented as an appendix.

Unfortunately, this book doesn’t work, at least not for me. They’re all trying too hard, and many of the writers ignore the clues presented in the previous chapters, don’t develop them further, and the story becomes more and more ludicrous.

Some of the writers also ignore the Detection Club’s writing rules, e.g., coincidental events aren’t supposed to be used to develop the story further, but they are used anyway as storytelling crutches. I always think that’s the sign of a bad writer, if he/she uses coincidence to drive a story forward.

Some of the writers don’t let the readers join in the detection game: the detective tells other characters what he has found out at some previous point in the story – and that’s the first time the readers learn of these events. I hate that! If the reader has no chance of solving the mystery on his/her own, that takes out all the fun of reading a mystery novel.

As a crime novel, this book didn’t work for me. But it’s an interesting concept, so I don’t consider reading this book a total waste of time.

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