Thursday, July 9, 2015

Mystery Writers at War

Many of the mysteries written in the late 1930s and into 1940 took the approaching conflict in Europe and China as a backdrop. What is interesting for me as the historian is how close many of their suppositions were correct. Well at least some of them.

Agatha Christie in N or M and Margery Allingham both write about the fears that were prevalent in England in 1940. Both talk of the concerns of Germans landings (some dressed as nuns), 5th Column activates and a general feeling of fear. France had fallen, the army lacked arms and there were no easy solutions. All took time and that appeared to be in short supply.

In these stories, as in the reality of 1940, the British saw it as their duty for each individual to do their part. While not everyone can be an Albert Campion or Tommy and Tuppence, there were the Peter Fleming and George Orwell.

The stories give a good feel for the period. A time when no one knew if America would be entering the war or if Germany was going to cross the channel. When most people were not aware of what Peter Fleming was up to or the fellows in Bletchley Park.

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