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Additional resources for 100 Masters of Mystery and Detective Fiction (Magill's Choice)
Library of Congress) fair, with the cultivated Countess Èveline Hanska. Besides pursuing a voluminous correspondence, the lovers met as often as opportunity and money allowed. Nevertheless, after her husband died in 1841, she continued to evade the marriage proposals of a financially strapped and increasingly ill Balzac (he suffered from cardiac hypertrophy), until March 14, 1850, when she finally married him. After the couple returned to Paris on May 21, Balzac’s condition quickly worsened. He died soon after, on August 18, 1850.
The book was written to divert the course of English detective fiction, and in this, as well as in sales and reviews, it was an outstanding success. Sherlock Holmes, an important figure of Bentley’s youth, so dominated the field that his inventor, Arthur Conan Doyle, was called upon to solve real crimes. Bentley challenged Doyle’s icy, introverted, infallible hero with a good-humored, susceptible extrovert who caught the public mood and became as much a model for less original writers as Sherlock Holmes had been.
Indeed, Mrs. Manderson emerges as the central, and finest, character in the book. Whereas in the Hammett-Chandler school women are conventionally untrustworthy to the degree that they are desirable, Mabel Manderson is as idealized as any fine lady in troubadour verse. That she symbolizes the importance of family life becomes even more clear later in Trent’s Own Case. An attempt, as Bentley put it, at “a new kind of detective story,” Trent’s Last Case was an immediate success and its reputation and sales in many languages continue to grow.
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