Edward Frederic Benson was an English novelist, biographer, memoirist, archaeologist and short story writer, known professionally as E. F. Benson. His friends called him ‘Fred’. He belonged to a brilliant if eccentric family. His father later became Archbishop of Canterbury and his mother was described by Gladstone as ‘the cleverest woman in England’. ‘Fred’ and three siblings who survived infancy all achieved distinction in their chosen fields. Benson was born on July 24, 1867 at Wellington College in Berkshire, England, where his father was the headmaster. After attending Marlborough and King’s College, Cambridge where he studied classics and archaeology, Benson worked at the British School of Archaeology in Athens. He achieved great success at an early age with his first novel, Dodo (1893). A precocious and prolific writer, he was also known as a writer of atmospheric, oblique and at times humorous or satirical ghost stories, which were often first published in story magazines such as Pearson’s Magazine or Hutchinson’s Magazine, 20 of which were illustrated by Edmund Blampied. Nowadays he is known principally for his Mapp and Lucia series about Emmeline “Lucia” Lucas and Elizabeth Mapp. In 1920 Benson became a full-time tenant of Lamb House in Rye, which had once been home to the novelist Henry James. Rye provided the setting for the Mapp and Lucia stories and their author served three terms as mayor of Rye in the late 1930s. E.F. Benson died on February 29, 1940 at the University College Hospital, London.
The Blotting Book (1908) together with an earlier book, The Luck of the Vails (1901), were his only two incursions in our genre.
The Australian academic and crime expert Stephen Knight suggests that Benson was paving the way for Anthony Berkeley/Francis Iles, and that in this book, ‘time and place are as important as they would be to the Detection Club.’ An interesting slice of historic crime, not to be forgotten. (Martin Edwards). The Blotting Book is included in The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books (2017) by Martin Edwards.
Morris Assheton is in love and means to be married. But his happiness is spoilt when he discovers that someone has been whispering poisonous rumours about him to the girl’s father. The culprit is Mills, dastardly partner to the Assheton family’s trusted lawyer. Morris vows revenge.
When Mills’ body is discovered, brutally beaten, the ugly quarrel comes to light and suspicion naturally falls on Morris. His innocence is debated in a tense courtroom, as an eager public and press look on.
Murder mystery… Courtroom drama. This is a classic whodunnit from the author of Mapp and Lucia. Crime fiction at its best.