Brian Flynn (1885 – 1958)

Yesterday I mentioned, almost in passing, a new (to me) writer, Brian Flynn.

Among the Dean Street Press books, I’d particularly like to highlight two series. The first is the set of books by Brian Flynn, the second is those by E. and M.A. Radford. They benefit from excellent introductions by two fans who have done a good deal of admirable work in the field. Steve Barge (who blogs as The Puzzle Doctor) is a passionate Flynn fan, while Nigel Moss has long admired the work of the Radfords. I haven’t yet read enough of either novelist to be able to judge them for myself (where does the time go?), but the enthusiasm of Steve and Nigel is a recommendation in itself. (Martin Edwards at ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’).

Today I would like to restate my previous post here.

flynnBrian Flynn was born in 1885 in Leyton, Essex. He won a scholarship to the City Of London School, and while he went into the civil service (ranking fourth in the whole country on the entrance examination) rather than go to university, the classical education that he received there clearly stayed with him. Protracted bouts of rheumatic fever prevented him fighting in the Great War, but instead he served as a Special Constable on the Home Front. Flynn worked for the local government while teaching “Accountancy, Languages, Maths and Elocution to men, women, boys and girls” in the evenings, and acting as part of the Trevelyan Players in his spare time. It was a seaside family holiday that inspired him to turn his hand to writing in the mid-twenties. Finding most mystery novels of the time “mediocre in the extreme”, he decided to compose his own. Edith, the author’s wife, encouraged its completion, and after a protracted period finding a publisher, it was eventually released in 1927 by John Hamilton in the UK and Macrae Smith in the U.S. as The Billiard-Room Mystery. The author died in 1958. In all, he wrote and published 57 mysteries, the vast majority featuring the super-sleuth Anthony Bathurst. (Source:  In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel and Dean Street Press).

For additional information please check Steve Barge’s blog In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, and write down Brian Flynn in his search engine. Particularly Brian Flynn and Me – The Return Of A Forgotten Author.

Bibliography: The Anthony Bathurst Mysteries: The Billiard-Room Mystery (1927), The Case of the Black Twenty-Two (1928), The Mystery of the Peacock’s Eye (1928), The Murders Near Mapleton (1929), The Five Red Fingers (1929)*, Invisible Death (1929)*, The Creeping Jenny Mystery aka The Crime at the Crossways (1929), Murder En Route (1930), The Orange Axe (1931), The Triple Bite (1931), The Padded Door (1932), The Edge of Terror (1932), The Spiked Lion (1933), The League of Matthias (1934), The Horn (1934), The Case of the Purple Calf aka The Ladder of Death (1934), The Sussex Cuckoo (1935), The Fortescue Candle (1936), Fear and Trembling aka The Somerset Murder (1936), Tread Softly (1937), Cold Evil (1938), The Ebony Stag (1938), Black Edged (1939), The Case of the Faithful Heart (1939), The Case of the Painted Ladies (1940), They Never Came Back (1940), Such Bright Disguises (1941), Glittering Prizes (1942), Reverse the Charges (1943), The Grim Maiden (1944), The Case of Elymas the Sorcerer (1945), Conspiracy at Angel (1947), The Sharp Quillet (1947), Exit Sir John (1947), The Swinging Death (1948), Men for Pieces (1949), Black Agent (1950), Where There Was Smoke (1951), And Cauldron Bubble (1951), The Ring of Innocent (1952), The Seventh Sign (1952), The Running Nun (1952), Out of the Dusk (1953), The Feet of Death (1954), The Doll’s Done Dancing (1954), The Shaking Spear (1955), The Mirador Collection (1955), The Toy Lamb (1956), The Dice Are Dark (1956), The Hands of Justice (1957), The Wife Who Disappeared (1957), The Nine Cuts (1958), and The Saints Are Sinister (1958).

* This is slightly odd, as The Five Red Fingers is the first book published by John Long, while Invisible Death was the last title published by John Hamilton. Despite this, and the fact that the first edition of The Five Red Fingers refers to Flynn as the author of “The Silver Troika”, presumably an early title for Invisible Death, the events of The Five Red Fingers are referred to in Invisible Death. Hence the order as presented above is correct, both in publication date and in the order the books take place.

Non-Series: Tragedy at Trinket (1934)

Writing As Charles Wogan
: The Hangman’s Hands (1947),
The Horror At Warden Hall
(1948), and
Cyanide For The Chorister
(1950). (Source: In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel)

My original intention was to read first Murder En Route (1930) here, but finally I decided to follow Steve’s advice who recommends to start reading this series with The Mystery of the Peacock’s Eye (1928).

Without further ado, another one of the books I have on top of my TBR list right now is Murder En Route (1930),


(Facsimile Dust Jacket, Grosset & Dunlap (USA), 1932 reprint)

Book Description: “Education’s like murder. It will out.”

Anthony Bathurst drops into a Glebeshire church and when it transpires that the vicar is acquainted with the medical examiner on a case of murder, Bathurst is hooked. He is soon on the trail of a most bizarre murderer. Who could have slain the slightly mysterious, yet quite unsuspicious, man on the top of a local bus? Bathurst assembles a band of helpers, with the reluctant help of Inspector Curgenven, to get to the bottom of a most perplexing case. And the vicar himself helps narrate the story of what is a seemingly impossible crime.

Murder en Route was originally published in 1930. This new edition includes an introduction by crime fiction historian Steve Barge.

What others have said:

Jim F Norris @ Pretty Sinister Books: ‘Being one of Flynn’s earliest mystery novels Murder En Route was published in both UK and US editions. But obviously both are as rare as a wooden nickel these days. However, if you are lucky enough to stumble across a copy I’d snap it up in an instant. I enjoyed it immensely and it proves that the obscure writers can dish up an engrossing, ingenious and thrilling detective story to match any of the greats of the Golden Age.’

TomCat @ Beneath the Stains of Time: ‘Overall, Murder en Route is a solidly plotted and fascinating detective novel about a victim who’s as elusive as his murderer, but all of the clues are there for you to pick up and put together, if you can – making it my favorite entry in the series so far. Highly recommended!’

Steve Barge @ In Search of the Classic Mystery: ‘Overall, this is a nicely complex yet clear plot, with some good twists and turns, with the overall picture being an imaginative one. The reader may guess some parts of it, but there are clues there as to what’s going on, and it’s written with Flynn’s light touch making it, as ever, a very enjoyable read, from the opening sections on the bus to the exciting and somewhat unlikely finale. Yes, some characters suffer from the mystery-novel syndrome of not doing the obvious thing due to it making a better story – Flynn is hardly alone in committing this sin – but this is a clever and fun read. Who could ask for more?’

Kate Jackson @ crossexaminingcrime: ‘This is not the first story to use a vicar-type character to narrate a story. In the same year this book was published we also had Christie’s The Murder at the Vicarage (1930) and two years later we would have Gladys Mitchell’s The Saltmarsh Murders. Initially I was not very taken with the narration style of the rector in Murder En Route, finding it at times a bit ponderous, however as the plot unfolds I found he grew on me. Furthermore, for those who love a good cliff hanger, Flynn has plenty of these in store, making it so tempting to read just one more chapter, to find out what happens next…’

Les Blatt @ Classic Mysteries: ‘Between his first mystery, written in 1927, and his last, in 1958, the author, Brian Flynn, wrote more than fifty mysteries. And yet, his name has slipped into complete and, in my opinion, undeserved oblivion. Dean Street Press has begun republishing some of Flynn’s work, including Murder en Route, and there is a great deal there to enjoy. … The new edition from Dean Street Press of Brian Flynn’s Murder en Route includes a very informative and useful introduction, both to this book in particular and to Flynn’s work in general, from mystery historian Steve Barge. If you don’t know Brian Flynn’s work – and I certainly didn’t – I would recommend Murder en Route as a good place to start.’

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