Curious to know the details behind the quiz questions––and the answers? The correct answer is highlighted in red below. An explanation follows each question.
1. Which of these well-known authors did not write a mystery?
A. A. Milne
J. K. Rowling
Most famous for Winnie the Pooh, Milne also wrote The Red House Mystery. J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, was outed as the pen behind Robert Galbraith, the ostensible author of last year's The Cuckoo's Calling mystery and the upcoming The Silkworm. William Faulkner wrote Knight's Gambit, a collection of six mystery stories. The prolific Roald Dahl wrote the classic mystery story, Lamb to the Slaughter.
2. Which of these is not a person who appears occasionally in a mystery series?
Sir Impey Biggs
Mrs. Merdle does appear occasionally in Dorothy L. Sayers's Lord Peter Wimsey series, but she's a car, not a person. Sir Impey Biggs is a lawyer who appears from time to time in the same series. Marko Vukčić is the owner of Nero Wolfe's favorite Rusterman's restaurant. Lin Chung is Phryne Fisher's semi-regular lover in Kerry Greenwood's books. Nigel Bathgate is a sometime Watson to Ngaio Marsh's Roderick Alleyn.
3. Which of these authors does not write his or her mysteries in a Scandinavian language?
Anne Holt and Jo Nesbø write in Norwegian. Kjell Eriksson writes in Swedish, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir in Icelandic and Jarkko Sipilä in Finnish. According to linguistics classification of languages, all but Finnish are Scandinavian, or northern Germanic, languages. Finnish belongs to the Finno-Ugric group, along with Estonian––and Hungarian!
4. Which of these has not been used as a murder weapon in a well-known mystery?
a leg of lamb
a vacuum cleaner
a bottle of champagne
Warning: Don't read this answer if you want to avoid spoilers as to some Golden Age books/stories. In Dorothy L. Sayers's Strong Poison, a cracked egg is the vehicle for poison. A frozen leg of lamb makes an easily-concealed murder weapon for a wronged wife to use on her philandering husband in Roald Dahl's Lamb to the Slaughter. A jeroboam of champagne is tragically wasted when it's used to kill in Ngaio Marsh's Vintage Murder. In Ronald Knox's Solved By Inspection, a bed is made into an unlikely murder weapon. The bed is raised (using ropes) up to the ceiling of a rich man's private gymnasium, and he starves with a laden buffet of food below, because he is too afraid of heights to chance escape.
Although I seem to recall that a vacuum cleaner is used to rather gruesome effect in Jo Nesbø's The Redeemer, I don't think it's been used as a murder weapon. Correct me if I'm wrong!
5. Which of these detectives is not age appropriate for the group?
Dr. Siri Palboun
Flavia de Luce
Flavia is a pre-teen chemistry whiz and busybody in Alan Bradley's series. All the other characters listed are senior citizens. Dr. Siri Palboun is a coroner in 1970s Laos in Colin Cotterill's series. Arthur Bryant is the not-so-natty half of the Bryant and May team in Christopher Fowler's Peculiar Crimes Unit series. Hildegarde Withers is a New York schoolteacher retired to Los Angeles in Stuart Palmers series, written from the 1930s to 1960s, some of which were made into films (most notably starring Edna Mae Oliver). (Withers was 39 at the start of the series, so not a senior citizen at that point, but she was certainly no pre-teen.) Buck Schatz is a retired Memphis cop––and the plague of his assisted living center––in Daniel Friedman's series.
6. Which of these sleuths does not share a profession with the others?
All are journalists, except for Swyteck, who is a lawyer in James Grippando's books. Trent is E. C. Bentley's creation; Qwilleran is Lilian Jackson Braun's; Parlabane is Christopher Brookmyre's; McMorrow is Gerry Boyle's.
7. Which of these mystery authors was not married to one of the other authors listed?
Philip Youngman Carter
Ross Macdonald is the pseudonym of Kenneth Millar. He adopted a pseudonym because his wife, Margaret Millar, achieved success before he did. Margery Allingham's husband, Philip Youngman Carter, collaborated with her on her early Campion novels, finished her last one from the uncompleted manuscript she left at her death, and wrote two continuation Campion novels. He wrote a number of his own mystery stories and designed book covers for many mystery writers, including Allingham.
8. Which one of these is a murder mystery?
The Cradle Will Fall
The Man Who Was Thursday
The Franchise Affair
The Belting Inheritance
Some of the best crime fiction novels don't include murder. Dorothy L. Sayers's Gaudy Night involves poison pen letters and dirty tricks at a fictional Oxford women's college. G. K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday involves an anarchist plot. In Josephine Tey's The Franchise Affair, a teenage girl accuses two elderly ladies of having abducted her and forced her into involuntary servitude. Julian Symons's The Belting Inheritance involves a surprise claimant to an estate. But Mary Higgins Clark's The Cradle Will Fall is, despite that innocent-sounding title, decidedly a murder mystery.
9. Which of these is not one of Ronald Knox's commandments for detective novelists?
- Not more than one secret room or passage is allowable
- The detective must not himself commit the crime
- Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.
- No lady, especially a lady of high birth, may take on the role of detective.
- The stupid friend of the detective, the Watson, must not conceal any thoughts which pass through his mind; his intelligence must be slightly, but very slightly, below that of the average reader.
10. Which of these mystery characters performs a different type of role from the others?
Though he was once a burglar (in his slimmer days), in Margery Allingham's Campion novels, Lugg is a law-abiding sidekick. It's all those other guys who are crime fiction villains. Casper Gutman is the superficially amiable man who desperately covets the black bird in Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon. Carl Peterson is Bulldog Drummond's nemesis. Arnold Zeck is a criminal mastermind and Nero Wolfe nemesis. Tom Ripley is the sociopathic protagonist of several Patricia Highsmith noir novels.