The ‘Cecil Waye’ novels of Cecil John Charles Street


This post was meant as a private note, but I thought it might be of some interest to readers of this blog. I read this morning, in the Golden Age Detection Group Page at Facebook, that Dean Street Press will be publishing next year The ‘Cecil Waye’ novels of Cecil John Charles Street. Book Depository shows publication date February, March 2021.

Cecil John Charles Street, writing as Cecil Waye, wrote four books featuring his series characters Christopher and Vivienne Perrin – ‘Perrins, Private Investigators’: Murder at Monk’s Barn. (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1931); The Figure of Eight (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1931); The End of the Chase (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1932); and The Prime Minister’s Pencil (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1933).

The Figure of Eight and The Prime Minister’s Pencil were published in the USA by Kinsey in 1933.  No US publication details have yet been traced for the other two ‘Waye’ titles.

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For an introduction read the following article:  A ‘Rhode’ by any other name, by Tony Medawar.

The Figure of Eight (1931) has been reviewed at Golden Age of Detection Wiki.

The Prime Minister’s Pencil (1933) has been reviewed at Golden Age of Detection Wiki,

About the Author: Cecil John Charles Street, MC, OBE (1884 – January 1965), who was known to his colleagues, family and friends as John Street, began his military career as an artillery officer in the British army. During the course of World War I, he became a propagandist for MI7, in which role he held the rank of Major. After the armistice, he alternated between Dublin and London during the Irish War of Independence as Information Officer for Dublin Castle, working closely with Lionel Curtis. He later earned his living as a prolific writer of detective novels.

He produced two long series of novels; one under the name of John Rhode featuring the forensic scientist Dr. Priestley, and another under the name of Miles Burton featuring the investigator Desmond Merrion. Under the name Cecil Waye, Street produced four novels: The Figure of Eight; The End of the Chase; The Prime Minister’s Pencil; and Murder at Monk’s Barn. The Dr. Priestley novels were among the first after Dr Thorndyke to feature scientific detection of crime, such as analysing the mud on a suspect’s shoes. Desmond Merrion is an amateur detective who works with Scotland Yard’s Inspector Arnold.

Critic and author Julian Symons places this author as a prominent member of the “Humdrum” school of detective fiction. “Most of them came late to writing fiction, and few had much talent for it. They had some skill in constructing puzzles, nothing more, and ironically they fulfilled much better than S. S. Van Dine his dictum that the detective story properly belonged in the category of riddles or crossword puzzles. Most of the Humdrums were British, and among the best known of them were Major John Street …”. Symons opinion has not however prevented the Rhode and Burton books becoming much sought after by collectors and many of the early ones can command high prices. Jacques Barzun and Wendell Hertig Taylor in their A Catalogue of Crime offer a different perspective to Symons, praising several of the Rhode books in particular, though they only review a small proportion of the more than 140 titles Street produced. (Source: Wikipedia)

Further reading: Masters of the “Humdrum” Mystery: Cecil John Charles Street, Freeman Wills Crofts, Alfred Walter Stewart and the British Detective Novel, 1920-1961 (McFarland, 2014) by Curtis J. Evans.

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