|French edition of "For Murder Will Speak"|
The "Humdrums" is a term coined by the late Julian Symons to describe an informal school of British detective writers who shared the same painstaking, and in Symons's eyes tedious, attention to technical detail and cared more about elaborate plotting than character. The exact composition of the movement varied according to Symons's mood swings but the core members are widely perceived to be Freeman Wills Crofts, Cecil John Street under his various aliases, J.J. Connington and - much to the bewilderment of those who actually read him - Henry Wade. Symons would probably be surprised to learn that most of these writers were French favourites in the Thirties and, in some cases, much later.
|FW Crofts, France's favourite GA writer|
Not only France imported Humdrum fiction but it produced some of its own as well. The most notorious specimen is probably Noel Vindry who is basically a humdrum writer who specialized in impossible crimes rather than unbreakable alibis.
This enthusiasm seems in retrospect not only surprising, but weird in that in the meantime some Golden Age writers we now hold as the period's major stars barely made a blip on the French radar. John Dickson Carr for instance only had four novels translated prior to the war and would not become a household name until well after his death. None of this shall be unexpected, as we French pride ourselves in never doing things like the others, and crime fiction is no exception.
Masters of the Humdrum Mystery by Curtis Evans