I’m a big mystery fan but don’t recall ever hearing of S.S. Van Dine although Philo Vance does ring a bell. But enough about me, here’s some background on the Scottish Terrier-owning author:
He thoroughly enjoyed identifying with his character, the independently wealthy and cultured Philo Vance, to the extent that he quickly began to live like him. Wright partied lavishly and took on eccentric hobbies— owning a Scottish Terrier kennel and breeding exotic fish— and entertained lavishly, falling into a pattern of dangerously outspending his large income. By 1934, with the nation gripped in the Great Depression, literary tastes were turning away from Wright’s aesthetic writing style, favoring grittier hard-boiled realism (a coincidental argument could be made cinematically, for the quality of Wright’s film adaptations dropped precipitously after The Kennel Murder Case (1933), easily considered the best of the series), but he had created a lifestyle he was loathe to change. In any case, by the mid-1930s his popularity had waned considerably and Wright hadn’t or couldn’t adjust to the public’s changing literary taste.
More on Amazon.com.
Update: A reader writes:
I read how thrilled you were to discover the book,
THE KENNEL MURDER CASE.
However, you will be even more thrilled to learn
that it was made into a film, starring William Powell –
by Warners Bros, 1933.
I’ve seen it many times on television over the years.
In one of the opening scenes – with a row of wooden
kennel boxes all lined up – you see all of the Scotties.
More information from knowledgeable readers in the comments.