Francis Quarles
Created by
Julian Symons (1912-1994)

Sharp-dressed man about town FRANCIS QUARLES was the private detective who worked the clue-ridden streets of post-WWII London, solving over countless cleverly plotted fair play mysteries in the fiftiess and sixties. most of them first appeared in The London Evening Standard, although many subsequently popped up in EQMM and other digests and several collections.

Quarles often hinted at some rather murky doings he was involved in during the war, but never got too specific. Still, no case was too big or too small for Quarles, and he would frequently dash out from his office in Trafalgar Square to see that justice was done, be it petty theft or murder.

The most recent collection, The Detections of Frances Quarles (2006, Crippen & Landru), with an introduction by editor John Cooper and an afterword by Symons' widow, collects 41 of the stories, including 21 previously uncollected investigations.

Symonds, of course, is generally considered one of the most distinguished British mystery writers to emerge after World War II, recognized with both the The Cartier Diamond Dagger, the Crime Writers Association's highest honor and named as a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. He also wrote social and military history, biography, studies of crime and literature, and poetry, but he's perhaps best known for Bloody Murder, one of the better known and more controversial works in the field of crime fiction criticism. Subtitled "From the detective story to the crime nove," and as candid, opinionated and sometimes just plain cranky as its author, it was revised twice, in 1985 and 1992, but Symons never let go of its central theme: that the classic puzzle mystery, associated with such writers as Agatha Christie and John Dickson Carr ( and which Symons himself often wrote), somehow fell short of the more modern "crime novel," which put emphasis on psychology and motivation. You can imagine how well that went over in some circles.




Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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