George Bellairs (1902 – 1982)

descarga (2)George Bellairs was the nom de plume of Harold Blundell (1902-1982), a crime writer and bank manager born in Heywood, near Rochdale, Lancashire. He began working for Martins Bank at the age of 15, and stayed there in escalating roles of seniority until his retirement. He then settled in the Isle of Man. He wrote more than 50 books, most featuring the detective Inspector Thomas Littlejohn, and all with the same publisher. His first novel, Littlejohn on Leave, was published in 1941and his last one, An Old Man Dies, was published close to his death in 1982. He also wrote four novels under the alternative pseudonym Hilary Landon. Harold Blundell served on the boards of United Manchester Hospitals and Manchester Royal Infirmary. He married Gwladys Mabel Roberts in 1930. (Source: Wikipedia)

Read more at George Bellairs website here.

With the methodical habits of a good bank manager, he [Blundell] kept detailed records of his work as a writer, including correspondence, contracts, and press cutting. Happily for researchers into the genre, Gwladys presented his archive to the John Rylands Library, a neo-Gothic architectural masterpiece in Deansgate, Manchester, which now forms part of the University of Manchester Library. The material in the archive gives a fascinating insight into the career of a “mid-list” writer of the mid-twentieth century, an author who was never a bestseller, but who for half a lifetime worked hard to entertain his readers. (Martin Edwards)

As Curtis Evans remind us, Blundell, like Elizabeth Ferrars and Christianna Brand, ‘is not quite officially Golden Age–but he’s close enough!  His early novels from the 1940s were published in the United States by Macmillan (they also published, among British mystery writers, E. R. Punshon and Christopher Bush) and he was well received there, getting some favorable notices from, for example, crime fiction reviewer Anthony Boucher.’

Bibliography: Detective Inspector Littlejohn series: Littlejohn on Leave (1941); The Four Unfaithful Servants (1942); Death of a Busybody (1942); The Dead Shall Be Raised (1942) aka Murder Will Speak; The Murder of a Quack (1943); The Case Of The Seven Whistlers (1944); Calamity At Harwood (1945); Death in the Night Watches (1945); The Case of the Scared Rabbits (1946); The Crime At Halfpenny Bridge (1946); Death On the Last Train (1948); Outrage On Gallows Hill (1948); The Case of the Demented Spiv (1949); The Case of the Famished Parson (1949); The Case of the Headless Jesuit (1950) aka Death Brings in the New Year; Crime in Lepers’ Hollow (1950); Dead March for Penelope Blow (1951) aka Dead March for Penelope; Death in Dark Glasses (1952); Half-Mast for the Deemster (1953); A Knife for Harry Dodd (1953); The Cursing Stones Murder (1954); Death In Room Five (1955); Death Drops the Pilot (1956); Death Treads Softly (1956); Death in High Provence (1957); Death Sends for the Doctor (1957); Corpse at the Carnival (1958); Murder Makes Mistakes (1958); Bones in the Wilderness (1959); Toll the Bell for Murder (1959); Corpses in Enderby (1960); Death in the Fearful Night (1960); The Body in the Dumb River (1961) aka Murder Masquerade; Death of a Tin God (1961); Death Before Breakfast (1962); The Tormentors (1962); Death in the Wasteland (1964); Death of a Shadow (1964); Surfeit of Suspects (1964); Death Spins the Wheel (1965); Intruder in the Dark (1966); Strangers Among the Dead (1966); Death in Desolation (1967); Single Ticket to Death (1967); Fatal Alibi (1968); Murder Gone Mad (1968); The Night They Killed Joss Varran (1970); Tycoon’s Death-bed (1970); Pomeroy, Deceased (1971); Murder Adrift (1972); Devious Murder (1973); Fear Round About (1975); Close All Roads to Sospel (1976) aka All Roads to Sospel; The Downhill Ride of Leeman Popple (1978); and An Old Man Dies (1980).

Other novels: Turmoil in Zion aka Death Stops the Frolic (1943); Murder at Morning Prayers (1947) (as Hilary Landon); Circle Round A Corpse (1948) (as Hilary Landon); Choose Your Own Verdict (1949) (as Hilary Landon); and Exit Sir Toby Belch (1950) (as Hilary Landon).

Laurie Kelley at Bedford Bookshelf has reviewed several books by George Bellairs.

Rekha Rao at The Book Decoder has reviewed several books by George Bellairs.32284

(Facsimile Dust Jacket, John Gifford Limited (UK), 1942)

The Dead Shall Be Raised was reissued as part of the British Library Crime Classics range in a double-bill omnibus edition with The Murder of a Quack with an Introduction by Martin Edwards. Two classic cases featuring Detective Inspector Littlejohn. The Dead Shall Be Raised , which is also sometimes called Murder Will Speak, first appeared in 1942. Synopsis: ‘In the winter of 1940, the Home Guard unearth a skeleton on the moor above the busy town of Hatterworth. Twenty-three years earlier, the body of a young textile worker was found in the same spot, and the prime suspect was never found—but the second body is now identified as his. Soon it becomes clear that the true murderer is still at large… ‘. The second novel in this book The Murder of a Quack, was published the following year. Synopsis: ‘Nathaniel Wall, the local quack doctor, is found hanging in his consulting room in the Norfolk village of Stalden—but this was not a suicide. Against the backdrop of a close-knit country village, an intriguing story of ambition, blackmail, fraud, false alibis and botanical trickery unravels.’

The Dead Shall Be Raised aka Murder Will Speak (1942) has been reviewed, among others, by Curtis Evans at The Passing Tramp, Aidan at Mysteries Ahoy!, Rekha Rao at The Book Decoder, and John Cleal at UK Crime Review.

E.R. Punshon (1872-1956)

NPG x156338; Ernest Robertson ('E.R.') PunshonE.R. Punshon, in full Ernest Robertson Punshon, (born East Dulwich, London 25 June 1872 – died Streatham, London 23 October 1956) was an English novelist and literary critic of the early to mid 20th century. He also wrote under the pseudonyms Robertson Halkett and Robertson Halket. Primarily writing on crime and deduction, he enjoyed some literary success in the 1930s and 1940s. Today, he is remembered, in the main, as the creator of Police Constable Bobby Owen, the protagonist of many of Punshon’s novels, who was eventually promoted to sergeant, inspector, superintendent and, finally, commander. A popular Scotland Yard detective, Owen appeared in 35 novels from 1933 to 1956. Punshon reviewed many of Agatha Christie’s novels for The Guardian on their first publication. Punshon was also a prolific writer of short stories, and a selection of his crime and horror fiction has recently been collected together. (Source: Wikipedia)

E. R. Punshon, Bobby Owen, and Art

Bobby Owen series: Information Received (1933); Death Among The Sunbathers (1934); Crossword Mystery (1934); Mystery Villa (1934); Death of A Beauty Queen (1935); Death Comes to Cambers (1935); The Bath Mysteries (1936); Mystery of Mr. Jessop (1937); The Dusky Hour (1937); Dictator’s Way (1938); Comes a Stranger (1938); Suspects – Nine (1939); Murder Abroad (1939); Four Strange Women (1940); Ten Star Clues (1941); The Dark Garden (1941); Diabolic Candelabra (1942); The Conqueror Inn (1943); Secrets Can’t be Kept (1944); Night’s Cloak (1944); There’s a Reason for Everything (1946); It Might Lead Anywhere (1946); Helen Passes By (1947); Music Tells All (1948); The House of Godwinsson (1948); So Many Doors (1949); Everybody Always Tells (1950); The Golden Dagger (1951); The Secret Search (1951); The Attending Truth (1952); Strange Ending (1953); Brought to Light (1954); Dark Is The Clue (1955); Triple Quest (1955); and Six Were Present (1956).

In bold the books I already have on my TBR pile. I wonder why I haven’t read more Punshon books to date.

Read further:

Mike Grost on E.R. Punshon

E.R. Punshon by Martin Edwards

TomCat at Beneath the Stains of Time has reviewed a fair amount of books by E.R. Punshon

J F Norris did the same at Pretty Sinister Books

Les Blatt at Classic Mysteries

And Nick Fuller at The Grandest Game in the World

At Mystery*File, as well

Curtis Evans at The Passing Tramp has also reviewed The Dusky Hour (1937) and So Many Doors (1949)


(Facsimile Dust Jacket, Ernest Benn Limited (UK), 1933)

Information Received is the first of E.R. Punshon’s acclaimed Bobby Owen mysteries, first published in 1933 and the start of a series which eventually spanned thirty-five novels.

Description: In his London townhouse, city magnate Sir Christopher Clarke is found lying murdered. At the other end of the house his safe hangs open and rifled, and earlier in the day he had visited his solicitors in order to make a drastic change in his will. Later it is discovered that there has been fraud connected with the dead man, and this is but one of the many complications with which Superintendent Mitchell is faced. Fortunately he has the assistance of young Constable Owen, a talented young Oxford graduate who, finding all other careers closed to him by the ‘economic blizzard’ of the early thirties, has joined the London Police force. (Source: Dean Street Press).

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