The first Detection Club book that I ever read, about 30 years ago, was Verdict of 13, which appeared in a Penguin paperback edition not long after its initial publication in 1979. I was attracted very much by the distinguished list of authors, who all contributed new stories, but of course I had no idea at the time that I would ever have any personal connection with the Club.
The then President of the Club, Julian Symons, decided to put together a collection which, he said in his introduction, was meant to have ‘a distinctive approach. The contributors were asked to write a short story that should, in some way or another, concern a jury, although it was stressed that the jury need not be one sitting in a law court, nor need they number twelve. The might be a ‘jury’ of soldiers or policemen, suburban housewives or schoolboys, lawyers or old lags.’ The book as a whole, he said, ‘shows the crime story, like the Detection Club, offering talents as various as those of Cleopatra.’
A pretty good connecting theme, I think. Certainly, I enjoyed the book, and if I had to pick a favourite story, it might be the one by P.D. James. Here is a list of all the contributions:
Patricia Highsmith – Something the Cat Dragged In
H.R.F. Keating – Gup
Christianna Brand – Cloud Nine
Dick Francis – Twenty-One Good Men and True
Gwendoline Butler – The Rogue’s Twist
P.D. James – Great-Aunt Allie’s Fly-papers
Michael Innes – Pelly and Cullis
Celia Fremlin – Postgraduate Thesis
Michael Gilbert – Verdict of Three
Ngaio Marsh – Morepork
Michael Underwood – Murder at St Oswald’s
Peter Dickinson – Who Killed the Cat?
Julian Symons – Waiting for Mr McGregor