The Floating Admiral

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The Floating Admiral
First edition cover
Author (Detection Club) G. K. Chesterton, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ronald Knox, Freeman Wills Crofts, etc
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Mystery novel
Publisher Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date
December 1931
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 351 pp (first edition, hardback)

The Floating Admiral is a collaborative detective novel written by fourteen members of the Detection Club in 1931. The twelve chapters of the story were each written by a different author, in the following sequence: Canon Victor Whitechurch, G. D. H. Cole and Margaret Cole, Henry Wade, Agatha Christie, John Rhode, Milward Kennedy, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ronald Knox, Freeman Wills Crofts, Edgar Jepson, Clemence Dane and Anthony Berkeley. G. K. Chesterton contributed a Prologue, which was written after the novel had been completed.[1]

In a literary game of consequences, each author would write one chapter, leaving G.K. Chesterton to write a typically paradoxical prologue and Anthony Berkeley to tie up all the loose ends. In addition, each of the authors provided their own solution in a sealed envelope, all of which appeared at the end of the book.

As Sayers explained in the introduction to the book, "Each writer must construct his instalment with a definite solution in view—that is, he must not introduce new complications merely 'to make it more difficult' ... [E]ach writer was bound to deal faithfully with all the difficulties left for his consideration by his predecessors."

Literary significance and criticism[edit]

"These members of the (London) Detection Club collaborate with skill in a piece of detection rather more tight-knit than one had a right to expect. There is enough to amuse and to stimulate detection; and the Introduction by Dorothy Sayers and supplements by critics and solvers give an insight into the writers' thoughts and modes of work."[2]

Plot summary[edit]

On a drifted boat, the body of Admiral Penistone is found. Last night, he had dinner with his niece in the house of the vicar. Afterwards he used his own boat to navigate over the river to his home. However, the boat on which the admiral is found is not his property, but is owned by the vicar. The admiral was stabbed by a knife or a dagger, but there is no blood on the floor. Furthermore, the mooring line has been cut.


  1. ^ Charles Osborne, The Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie, London, 1982.
  2. ^ Barzun, Jacques and Taylor, Wendell Hertig. A Catalogue of Crime. New York: Harper & Row. 1971, revised and enlarged edition 1989. ISBN 0-06-015796-8