Rupert Penny (1909 – 1970)

PennyRupert Rupert Penny was the pen name of Ernest Basil Charles Thornett (1909 – 1970), [English writer and crossword expert] who wrote eight ingenious whodunits in a short space of time at the tail end of the Golden Age. Thornett, like many others detective novelists, undertook intelligence work during the war,as well as writing a thriller under the name Martin Tanner. He never returned to the genre, and was best known in later years as a doyen of the British Iris Society, and editor of its yearbook. (Source: Martin Edwards, The Golden Age of Murder (HarperCollins, 2015) p. 191n).

His series character was Chief Inspector Beale of Scotland Yard. They are narrated by his friend, stockbroker Tony Purdon, a man who compares himself to Watson right in the opening of Policeman’s Holiday. Some of Penny’s mysteries are available from Ramble House.

Bibliography: The Talkative Policeman (1936), Policeman’s Holiday (1937), Policeman in Armour (1937), The Lucky Policeman (1938), Policeman’s Evidence (1938), She Had To Have Gas (1939), Sweet Poison (1940), Sealed Room Murder (1941), and Rupert Penny writing as Martin Tanner Cut and Run (1941).

Mike Grost on Rupert Penny.

JJ’s articles on Rupert Penny are at The Invisible Event.

Martin Edwards articles on Rupert Penny are at Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’

Other blogs {like Beneath the Stains of Time, Pretty Sinister Books, Vintage Pop Fiction, and Countdown John’s Christie Journal} also contain reviews of some other titles by Rupert Penny.

Unfortunately I have not yet been able to find any of his books at a reasonable price.


(Source: Facsimile Dust Jacket, LLC. Collins The Crime Club (UK), 1936)

Rupert Penny wrote this longer-than-usual impossible mystery in 1937 [?]. It’s full of maps, charts and highly formatted text, and Ramble House is proud to present it as a facsimile book. Its 330 pages will transport you to the English countryside of the mid-30s as Inspector Beale and his ever-present friend Tony Purdon tackle the murder of a clergyman who had the misfortune of having his head bashed in by person or persons unknown. The author states that by the time you read the first 33 chapters you will have all the information you need to name the murderer and reconstruct the crime. Are you up to the challenge? (Source: Ramble House)

The Talkative Policeman has been reviewed, among others, at ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’ and The Invisible Event.

To get a flavour of this book you can read the first 121 pages here.

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