Harriet Rutland (1901 – 1962)


Harriet Rutland was the pen-name of Olive Shimwell. She was born Olive Seers in 1901, the daughter of a prosperous Birmingham builder and decorator.
Little is known of the authors early life but in 1926 she married microbiologist John Shimwell, with whom she moved to a small village near Cork in Ireland. This setting, transplanted to Devon, inspired her first mystery novel Knock, Murderer, Knock! which was published in 1938. The second of Harriet Rutlands mysteries, Bleeding Hooks, came out in 1940, and the third and last, Blue Murder, was published in November 1942. All three novels are remarkable for their black comedy, innovative plots, and pin-sharp portraits of human behaviour, especially concerning relationships between men and women.
Olive and John were divorced in the early forties, and Olive apparently did not publish anything further. She died in Newton Abbot in 1962. Unfortunately there is no known surviving photograph of the author. (Source: Fantastic Fiction)

Bibliography: Knock, Murderer, Knock! (1938); Bleeding Hooks (1940) aka The Poison Fly Murders; and Blue Murder (1942)

Further reading: The Return of Harriet Rutland: Knock, Murderer, Knock! (1938), Bleeding Hooks (1940) and Blue Murder (1942) reissued by Dean Street Press at The Passing Tramp

John Norris at his blog (Pretty Sinister Books) in 2011 reviewed Rutland’s second detective novel, Bleeding Hooks (1940), and in 2015 he reviewed Knock, Murderer, Knock!

Time has now come for me to read Bleeding Hooks, stay tuned.

bleeding-hooksDescription

They grabbed their fishing bags, and made a dive for their rods which were standing, ready for use, outside the front door.

“Well, tight lines!” they called over their shoulders.

“Bleeding hooks!” grinned the Major.

Gladys ‘Ruby’ Mumsby was more interested in fishermen than fish. When her corpse is discovered near a Welsh sporting lodge that is hosting a group of fly fishing enthusiasts, it seems one of them has taken an interest in her too – of the murderous kind. For impaled in the palm of her hand is a salmon fishing fly, so deep that the barb is completely covered. Her face is blue. It is thought at first she died of natural causes, but the detective Mr. Winkley, of Scotland Yard, almost immediately suspects otherwise. And what happened to the would-be magician’s monkey that disappeared so soon after Mrs. Mumsby’s death?

Bleeding Hooks was the second of Harriet Rutland’s sparkling mystery novels to feature the detective Mr Winkley. First published in 1940, this new edition features an introduction by crime fiction historian Curtis Evans.

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