LETTERS : Stand up the real detective

IN YOUR article on the US historian Natalie Davis ("Tricks of history", Sunday Review, 5 February), her book The Return of Martin Guerre is described as "a virtuoso performance, a dazzling display of historical detective work and storytelling". I fail to understand why no credit has been given to an earlier American writer, Janet Lewis, who wrote three novels based on the circumstantial evidence of trials in 16th, 17th and 18th century Europe. Her nouvelle, The Wife of Martin Guerre, was published in 1941. In view of the historical and legal detail in Janet Lewis's work, the amount of "detective work" and indeed "story telling" required of Davis would have been minimal.

Diana Hendry

Montpelier, Bristol

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