C. Daly King (1895 – 1963)


daly-kingCharles Daly King (1895-1963) was an American psychologist. He was educated at Newark Academy, Yale and Columbia University. After Army service in WWI he trained in psychology and wrote several textbooks. In the 1930s he wrote seven detective novels while working in psychology. His detective, Michael Lord, is attached to the New York police department. Lord’s cases are recounted by a Watson figure, Dr L Rees Pons. King coined the word ‘Obelists’ to describe suspects, and used it in three of his titles. Another series character, Trevis Tarrant, appears in a book of short stories. After Bermuda Burial (1940) King wrote no further fiction. (Source: Golden Age of Detective Wiki and Goodreads)

A bibliography can be found at the Golden Age of Detection Wiki, though only two of King’s mystery books are widely available: a short story collection The Complete Curious Mr. Tarrant, and the novel Obelists Fly High (1935). Obelists Fly High (1935) is the most admired of King’s six published mystery novels.

Among the most extraordinary performances of these years were the three “Obelist” stories (an obelist is ‘one who harbours suspicion’) of C. Daly King. ….. The most remarkable of his books, one with a gloss of slightly meretricious cleverness, is Obelyst Fly High (1935) in which a famous surgeon flying to operate his brother, the American Secretary of State, receives a death threat which is carried out on the plane. The book begins with a shooting-it-out epilogue between the police guard of the surgeon and an unnamed villain, and ends with a prologue which reveals a wholly unsuspected murderer. The glitter is meretricious because the solution outrages our capacity for belief. Nobody, however, could deny the originality of the obelist stories. King’s other work was much inferior to them, and with the coming of the War he gave up writing crime stories. (Julian Symons, Bloody Murder. From the Detective Story to the Crime Novel: A History. Penguin, 1974. p.127)

Further reading:

Warning!!! If you are tempted to read this book, it might be a good idea to read first the reviews shown below. As far as I’m concerned, for the time being I have no interest in reading it.

1965

(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Collins Harrison Smith & Robert Haas (USA), (1935)

Product Description: A very thrilling story … [with] a real surprise midway in the book, and a double-barreled shock at the end … the reader’s interest is never allowed to flag.”―The New York Times.
Captain Michael Lord of the New York City Police is the target of desperate shots fired on board a twin-engine plane, where a premeditated murder has already taken place. Will the dashing detective survive the assault? Will anyone emerge alive from the now-plummeting aircraft? And who killed the famous surgeon that the captain was guarding?
This ingeniously constructed novel begins with an epilogue, concludes with a prologue, and offers a “Clue Finder” that reveals forty hints even the sharpest armchair detective may have missed. Originally published in 1935, this long-unavailable thriller dates from the Golden Age of detective fiction, when mysteries were judged by the cleverness of their crimes and the resourcefulness of their sleuths. The twisting plot, impossible murder, “locked-room” setting, and remarkable surprises elevate Obelists Fly High to the level of the best of Ellery Queen and Agatha Christie. Reprint of the William Collins Sons & Co., Ltd., London, 1935 edition. (Source: Dover Publications)

Obelists Fly High has been reviewed, among others, at Golden Age of Detection Wiki, ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’ The Invisible Event and Vintage Pop Fictions.

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