My choice for Patti Abbott's series of Forgotten Books today is Mizmaze. Quite a nice title. It is the only book by Mary Fitt that I have read, although she was a prolific crime writer for almost a quarter of a century. I was attracted to her work by the praise accorded to her by Harry Keating in Twentieth Century Crime & Mystery Writers and by Cooper and Pike in Collecting Detective Fiction.
The name of Mary Fitt concealed the identity of Kathleen Freeman, a well-regarded Greek scholar whose private nature is reflected in the biographical note in the Penguin edition of this book, in which she is quoted as saying: ‘It is… the writer of fiction who is of interest to the public, not the person of whom the writer is part.’
In a celebrity-focused age, such a modest outlook seems quaint, but it was not uncommon at the time; Agatha Christie, for one, felt the same and routinely declined requests from fans for signed photographs. What would Mary Fitt have made of blogging, I wonder?
This novel, Fitt’s last but one, was published in the year of her death, 1959. It boasts a murder in a maze – to my mind, always an evocative and appealing concept. Unfortunately, the victim, old Augustine Hatley, so lacks redeeming features that it is a wonder that he survived to a ripe old age, and the various suspects, including his two daughters, are scarcely more appealing. The detection is undertaken by Fitt’s usual pairing, Inspector Mallet and Dr Fitzbrown and the latter is oddly more prominent than the former. I have to say that it's not too hard to see why this book has long been forgotten. I'm sure Fitt wrote some good stories, but this is really more of a curiosity.