Tyline Perry (1897-1978)

    A highly interesting post by Curtis Evans at The Passing Tramp, here, has prompted me to seek further into the life and work of Tyline Perry. Unfortunately I have not been able to discover much.

    She was born in Brownwood, Texas and was married to Ralph D. Perry. She mainly wrote short stories for pulp magazines like College Stories. We only know she wrote two mystery books: The Owner Lies Dead  (1930) and The Never Summer Mystery (1932). [Her obituary claims she wrote a further two novels, but Curtis Evans has not been able to determine if this is a truthful or not. (Source: Cross-Examining Crime)]. I will  appreciate any further information available.

    On 16 August 1930, The Spectator wrote about The Owner Lies Dead: ‘We have here that very rare thing—a first-class thriller which is also a novel full of human interest and sound psychology. The story opens with an account of a mining disaster. A number of men have already been trapped in an American pit when the owner’s son, Tony North, insists on making a final attempt to rescue the possible survivors. After he has been let down in the cage there is a terrific explosion. For weeks all attempts to recover his body have to be abandoned and during this time some of his relatives declare that they have seen his ghost. The rest of the book describes the attempts of several people to solve the mystery of the ghost and to discover the cause of the explosion and of many other strange events, too complicated to be mentioned here. Mr. Perry’s story will tax the ingenuity of the most cunning readers and his book deserves more than one reading in order that his brilliant manner of hiding clues may he appreciated.’

    The Owner Lies Dead is currently on top of my wish list, given the size of my to be read pile, but I’ll be looking for any opportunity to buying it soon.

    Tyline Perry’s The Owner Lies Dead was one of the most praised detective novels of 1930, in both Great Britain and the United States, a product of the High Golden Age, boasting not only an ingenious sort of “miracle” murder plot but an intriguing and unusual setting (a Colorado coalmining town) and appealing characters, reprinted by Coachwhip, in spiffy new editions with introductions by Curtis Evans. (Source: The Passing Tramp)

    owner lies dead cover wrap

    (Source: The Passing Tramp)


    Men had died before in Haunted Mine, but not by bullets!

    Fire rages through Haunted Mine, economic mainstay of the coalmining town of Genesee, Colorado. Some miners have been rescued, but seventeen still are tragically trapped in the mine’s depths. Tony Sheridan, the handsome, outgoing and seemingly much-adored nephew of Genesee’s “benevolent despot,” old Matthew North, heroically descends to the bottom of the mine in a desperate last effort at rescue. He does not return, however, nor do any of the missing men. All hope is abandoned, the ventilating shaft is shut off and both downcast and upcast are covered over by boards.

    Five weeks later, after the fire has exhausted itself, the shafts are opened and men descend to clear out the wreckage. At the foot of the main shaft Tony’s scorched body is found—with a bullet through his heart! The bullet entered from the young man’s back in such a way as to preclude suicide.

    The seventeen men whom Tony had tried to rescue are found dead in the mine behind a half-built barricade, under such circumstances that beyond any possibility of doubt they all must have been dead long before Tony made it into the mine.

    So who or what on earth could have killed Tony Sheridan?

    Originally published in 1930, The Owner Lies Dead was one of the best reviewed detective novels of the year in both the United States and the United Kingdom, praised not only for its superlative murder puzzle but for its being “that very rare thing—a first-class thriller which is also a novel full of human interest and sound psychology” (Spectator). As Dashiell Hammett, who himself knew a thing or two about murders in mining towns, declared in the Saturday Review of Literature, “it’s good.”

    This reprint edition (by CoachWhip Publications) includes bibliographic introduction by mystery fiction historian Curtis Evans (The Passing Tramp).

    The Owner Lies Dead has been reviewed, among others, at Beneath the Stains of Time, Cross-Examining Crime, and The Invisible Event.


    (Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Alfred H. King, Inc. (USA), 1932)

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