Rafael Bernal (1915 – 1972)

rafaelbernalRafael Bernal, born in 1915 in Mexico City, doesn’t come to mind when one thinks of great detective novelists of the 1960s. There is little about him on the Internet in English, and none of his other novels, plays, story collections or histories have been translated. Although he wrote dozens of books, his 1969 novel, The Mongolian Conspiracy, is considered his masterwork. Bernal was a renaissance man: He earned his doctorate in literature from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, and his bachelor’s degree at Loyola in Montreal, in addition to studying at the Colegio Francés de San Borja in Peru and at the Instituto de Ciencias y Letras in Mexico City. Although he was a successful novelist and journalist for TV, radio and film, he ultimately became a Mexican diplomat after years of extensive travel left him with a taste for the jet-set lifestyle. (The cities and countries he traveled to as a tourist or served in as a diplomat reads like a veritable list of exotic locales in Graham Greene novels: Europe, Central America, Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela, the U.S., Canada, Honduras, Peru, the Philippines, Japan and Switzerland, where he died while serving his country. He was buried in Geneva. Twenty years after his death his remains returned to Mexico. (Source: Los Angeles Times and El Mundo)

New Directions publicity page

His Name was Death (New Directions Publishing Corporation, Publication date: 11/02/2021)

Rafael Bernal Book Series in Order

Selected bibliography: Un muerto en la tumba (1946); Tres novelas policíacas [A collection of three short stories: El extraño caso de Aloysius Hands”, “De muerte natural”, and “El heroico Don Serafín”] (1946); Su nombre era muerte (1947) [English translation: His Name Was Death]; El complot mongol (1969) [English translation: The Mongolian Conspiracy]; and Antología Policíaca (2015) [A selectiion of short stories including: El extraño caso de Aloysius Hands”, “De muerte natural”, El heroico Don Serafín”, “Un muerto en la tumba”, “La muerte poética”, “La muerte madrugadora”, y “La declaración”].

My Book Notes: Mr Splitfoot, 1968 (Dr. Basil Willing #12) by Helen McCloy

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The Murder Room, 2013. Book Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 336 KB. Print Length: 256 pages. ASIN: B00FL3CCE8. ISBN: 978-1-4719-1255-9. First published in the US by Dodd, Mead & Company, New York, 1968 and in the UK by Victor Gollancz Ltd, London, 1969.

9781471912559Description: To wake the devil, Lucinda summoned the arch fiend with the ancient invocation, and from the secret room where her friend Vanya had agreed to hide came the eerie response. The rapping called up all the terror of the old tales, and the joke was going marvellously.
Until Lucinda realised that Vanya had never arrived at the old house . . .

My Take: Mr Splitfoot, the 12th instalment in the thirteen novels that make up Helen McCloy’s series featuring Dr Basil Willing, is for my taste the best in the series, to put it clearly. Which is quite something as this is a series I’m much enjoying. Following a first chapter, as a kind of introduction, in which two youngsters, Lucinda and Vanya, are scheming, out of sheer boredom, a prank in the style of the Fox sisters. In the second chapter Dr Basil Willing and his wife are heading towards a ski lodge when they get stranded in a snowstorm and their car has a break down. They haven’t the faintest idea of where they are and decide to continue on foot with the misfortune that Gisela twists her ankle. Fortunately they spot the lights of a house in the far distant and direct towards it. There are already seven people in the house, with barely any room for them, but they offer them a couch in the sitting room to pass the night. The house, named Crow’s Flight, belongs to David Crowe who is staying there with his wife Serena even though he has rented it to the Swaynes –Francis, his wife Folly, and Lucinda, Francis’ daughter from a first marriage. The third couple are the Alcotts, Brad and Ginevra. Basil remembers then that Alcott and Blair are Francis Swayne’s publishers. After the usual  introductions, Lucinda, a fifteen year old girl, reminds them there is one empty room at the head of the stairs that has not been in use for over fifty years. To tell the truth, it has never been in need to be used and is supposed to be haunted. According to an ancient legend, everyone who has ever slept in that room has been found dead in the morning.

After dinner, Lucinda performs her trick, in collusion with Vanya, saying: “Do as I do, Mr. Splitfoot!” And she claps her hands three times. And promptly the answer comes: Rap … rap …rap. But just then the telephone rings. It’s Vanya’s mother to tell her Vanya has fever and can’t come out tonight, and Lucinda faints. This cause a change of plans. Mrs Swayne decides to take Lucinda to her room and put Mrs Willings in Lucinda’s room. It’s a single room and, therefore, Dr Willing and Mr Swayne will have to camp out in the living room tonight. At this point, Dr Willing suggests to take the closed room himself leaving the couch for Mr Swayne. Finally the four men decide to draw cards to determine by lot who will spend the night in the haunted room. David Crowe draws the lower card, but despite all precautions taken, Crowe is found dead that night. 

The story, as the author herself estates, is a locked room mystery. Even if the door was left open, it was at all times under surveillance of the three other men who were in the house. It was a room that no one but the dead man could have entered before his death. No one could have gone upstairs to the room where Crowe was, without being seen or heard. The hall door was open so they could hear the bell if it rang and they had the stair in full view al the time. No one could have come down the upper hall to that room without them would have heard something. There is no carpet, only scatter rugs, and the floorboards creak. No one could have approach the house from the outside without leaving tracks in the new-fallen snow. There were none when the police arrive. No one could have scuffled with Crowe in the haunted room without leaving some marks on the dust in the floor. To all intents and purposes, it was a locked room even though the door stood open.

No one better than Curtis Evans to sum up in a few words what I think of this superb novel:

In Mr. Splitfoot, however, Helen McCloy, then sixty-four, produced one of the best of her thirteen mysteries starring psychiatrist sleuth Dr Basil Willing, who had debuted three decades earlier, at the tail end of the Golden Age, in 1938.  The novel makes use of some of the genre’s hoariest tropes –the breakdown of the sleuth’s car in the countryside, the country house party, the snowbound mansion, the Christmastime setting, the haunted mansion, the locked room– and triumphantly succeeds in giving them a fresh gloss.  I first read the novel over two decades ago and upon rereading it this week I found that I enjoyed it every bit as much as I did the first time round.  It’s a late flowering of Golden Age ingenuity to be cherished by lovers of vintage mystery. (The Passing Tramp)

Highly recommended.

Mr Splitfoot has been reviewed, among others, at Pretty Sinister Books, Beneath the Stains of Time, At the Scene of the Crime, ahsweetmysteryblog, Classic Mysteries, In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, The Reader is Warned, Dead Yesterday, The Passing Tramp, The Grandest Game in the World, and The Green Capsule

About the Author: Helen McCloy was born in New York City, on 6 June 1904 to writer Helen Worrell McCloy and William McCloy, managing editor of the New York Evening Sun. After discovering a love for Sherlock Holmes as young girl, McCloy began writing her own mystery novels in the 1930s. In 1938 she introduced her psychiatrist-detective Dr Basil Willing, who debuted in her first novel Dance of Death (William Morrow & Co., 1938). He appeared in thirteen of McCloy’s novels and several short stories acting as a paid consultant to New York City’s District Attorney. Willing is famous for saying, “every criminal leaves psychic fingerprints, and he can’t wear gloves to hide them.” Dr. Willing also appears in McCloy’s 1955 supernatural mystery Through a Glass, Darkly — hailed as her masterpiece and likened to John Dickson Carr. Although McCloy was known primarily as a mystery novelist, she published under the pseudonym Helen Clarkson also a science fiction story, The Last Day (1959), regarded as the first really technically well-informed novel on the subject. McCloy went on in the 1950s and 1960s to co-author the review column for a Connecticut newspaper. A rather prolific author, McCloy won Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine awards for the short stories “Through a Glass, Darkly” (reprinted in The Singing Diamonds, 1965) and “Chinoiserie” (reprinted in 20 Great Tales of Murder, 1951). In 1950, she became the first female president of Mystery Writers of America (MWA) and in 1953, she was honoured with an Edgar® Award from the MWA for her critiques. She helped to establish MWA’s New England Chapter in 1971, and was named an MWA Grand Master in 1990. Her contributions to the genre are recognized today by the annual Helen McCloy/MWA Scholarship to nurture talent in mystery writing—in fiction, nonfiction, playwriting, and screenwriting. Helen McCloy died in Boston, Massachusetts, on 1 December 1994. aged 90. Although, based on other sources, she died in 1992. In 1987, critic and mystery writer H. R. F. Keating included her Basil Willing title Mr Splitfoot in a list of the 100 Best Crime and Mystery Books.

Dr Basil Willing Mysteriy Series: Dance of Death (1938) (UK title: Design for Dying); The Man in the Moonlight (1940); The Deadly Truth (1941); Cue for Murder (1942); Who’s Calling (1942); The Goblin Market (1943); The One That Got Away (1945); Through a Glass, Darkly (1950); Alias Basil Willing (1951); The Long Body (1955); Two-Thirds of a Ghost (1956); The Singing Diamonds aka Surprise, Surprise (1965) short stories; Mister Splitfoot (1968); Burn This (1980); and The Pleasant Assassin and Other Cases of Dr Basil Willing (Crippen & Landru, 2003) short stories, some of which originally appeared in The Singing Diamonds.

Other Fiction: Do Not Disturb (1943); Panic (1944); She Walks Alone (1948) aka Wish Your Were Dead; Better Off Dead (1949); Unfinished Crime aka He Never Came Back (1954); The Slayer and the Slain (1957); Before I Die (1963); The Further Side of Fear (1967); Question of Time (1971); A Change of Heart (1973); The Sleepwalker (1974); Minotaur Country (1975); Cruel as the Grave (1976) aka The Changeling Conspiracy; The Impostor (1977); and The Smoking Mirror (1979)

Recommended Short Stories: “Chinoiserie” (1935); “Through a Glass, Darkly” (1948) later expanded into a novel of the same name in 1950; “The Singing Diamonds” (1949); “Murder Stops the Music” (1957); and “Murphy’s Law” (1979).

The Orion Publishing House publicity page

Helen McCloy at Golden Age of Detection Wiki

Helen McCloy – by Michael E. Grost

Murder in Mind by Christine Poulson

Helen McCloy (1904-1994) – pseudonym Helen Clarkson

Sr. Splitfoot, de Helen McCloy

Descripción: Para despertar al diablo, Lucinda convoca al archienemigo con la antigua invocación, y desde la habitación secreta donde su amigo Vanya había acordado esconderse llegó la espeluznante respuesta. El golpe despertó todo el terror de los viejos cuentos, y la broma iba de maravilla.
Hasta que Lucinda se dio cuenta de que Vanya nunca había llegado a la vieja casa….

Mi opinión: Sr Splitfoot, la duodécima entrega de las trece novelas que componen la serie de Helen McCloy con el Dr. Basil Willing, es para mi gusto la mejor de la serie, para decirlo claramente. Lo cual es bastante, ya que esta es una serie que estoy disfrutando mucho. Tras un primer capítulo, a modo de introducción, en el que dos jóvenes, Lucinda y Vanya, están maquinando, por puro aburrimiento, una broma al estilo de las hermanas Fox. En el segundo capítulo, el Dr. Basil Willing y su esposa se dirigen hacia una estación de esquí cuando quedan varados en una tormenta de nieve y su auto tiene una avería. No tienen la menor idea de dónde están y deciden seguir a pie con la desgracia de que Gisela se tuerce el tobillo. Afortunadamente, ven las luces de una casa a lo lejos y se dirigen hacia ella. Ya hay siete personas en la casa, sin apenas espacio para ellos, pero les ofrecen un sofá en el salón para pasar la noche. La casa, llamada Crow’s Flight, pertenece a David Crowe, quien se aloja allí con su esposa Serena a pesar de que se la ha alquilado a los Swayne: Francis, su esposa Folly y Lucinda, la hija de Francis de un primer matrimonio. La tercera pareja son los Alcott, Brad y Ginevra. Basil recuerda entonces que Alcott y Blair son los editores de Francis Swayne. Después de las habituales presentaciones, Lucinda, una joven de quince años, les recuerda que hay una habitación vacía en la parte superior de las escaleras que no se ha utilizado durante más de cincuenta años. A decir verdad, nunca ha sido necesario usarla y se supone que está embrujada. Según una antigua leyenda, todos los que alguna vez durmieron en esa habitación fueron encontrados muertos por la mañana.

Después de la cena, Lucinda realiza su truco, en connivencia con Vanya, diciendo: “¡Haga lo que yo hago, Sr. Splitfoot!” Y aplaude tres veces. Y pronto llega la respuesta: Rap … rap … rap. Pero en ese momento suena el teléfono. Es la madre de Vanya para decirle que Vanya tiene fiebre y no puede salir esta noche, y Lucinda se desmaya. Esto provoca un cambio de planes. La Sra. Swayne decide llevar a Lucinda a su habitación y poner a la Sra. Willings en la habitación de Lucinda. Es una habitación individual y, por lo tanto, el Dr. Willing y el Sr. Swayne tendrán que acampar en la sala de estar esta noche. En este punto, el Dr. Willing sugiere ocupar la habitación cerrada él mismo dejando el sofá para el Sr. Swayne. Finalmente los cuatro hombres deciden echar cartas para determinar por sorteo quién pasará la noche en la habitación encantada. David Crowe saca la carta más baja, pero a pesar de todas las precauciones tomadas, Crowe es encontrado muerto esa noche.

La historia, como dice la propia autora, es un misterio de habitación cerrada. Aunque la puerta se dejó abierta, estuvo en todo momento bajo la vigilancia de los otros tres hombres que se encontraban en la casa. Era una habitación a la que nadie más que el muerto podía haber entrado antes de su muerte. Nadie podría haber subido a la habitación donde estaba Crowe sin ser visto ni oído. La puerta del pasillo estaba abierta para que pudieran escuchar la campana si sonaba y tenían la escalera a la vista todo el tiempo. Nadie podría haber entrado por el pasillo superior a esa habitación sin que ellos hubieran escuchado algo. No hay moqueta, solo pequeñas alfombras dispersas, y la tarima del piso cruje. Nadie podría haberse acercado a la casa desde el exterior sin dejar huellas en la nieve recién caída. No había ninguna huella cuando llegó la policía. Nadie podría haber atacado a Crowe en la habitación encantada sin dejar marca alguna en el polvo del suelo. A todos los efectos, era una habitación cerrada a pesar de que la puerta se encontraba abierta.

Nadie mejor que Curtis Evans para resumir en pocas palabras lo que pienso de esta magnífica novela:

En Sr. Splitfoot, sin embargo, Helen McCloy, entonces de sesenta y cuatro años, presenta uno de los mejores de sus trece misterios protagonizado por el detective psiquiatra Dr. Basil Willing, que había debutado tres décadas antes, al final de la Edad de Oro, en 1938. La novela hace uso de algunos de los temas recurrentes más antiguos del género –la avería del coche del detective en medio del campo, la fiesta en la casa rural, el caserón cubierto de nieve, el entorno navideño, la mansión encantada, la habitación cerrada– y logra con éxito darles un nuevo brillo. Leí la novela por primera vez hace más de dos décadas y, al releerla esta semana, descubrí que la disfruté tanto como la primera vez. Es un floreción tardía del ingenio de la Edad de Oro para ser apreciada por los aficionados a los misterios vintage. (The Passing Tramp)

Muy recomendable.

Acerca del autor: Helen McCloy nació en la ciudad de Nueva York, el 6 de junio de 1904, hija de la escritora Helen Worrell McCloy y William McCloy, editor en jefe del New York Evening Sun. Después de descubrir su afición por Sherlock Holmes cuando era niña, McCloy comenzó a escribir sus propias novelas de misterio en la década de 1930. En 1938 presentó a su psiquiatra-detective, el Dr. Basil Willing, en su primera novela, Dance of Death. El Dr. Basil Willing aparece en 13 novelas de McCloy, así como en varios relatos breves actuando como consultor remunerado del fiscal de distrito de la ciudad de Nueva York. Willing es famoso por decir: “todo criminal deja huellas dactilares psíquicas y no puede usar guantes para ocultarlas”. El Dr. Willing también aparece en el misterio sobrenatural de McCloy de 1955 Through a Glass, Darkly, aclamado como su obra maestra a semejanza de John Dickson Carr. Aunque McCloy era conocida principalmente como una novelista de misterio, también publicó bajo el seudónimo de Helen Clarkson una historia de ciencia ficción,The Last Day (1959), considerada la primera novela realmente bien fundamentada sobre el tema. McCloy pasó a ser coautora de la columna de reseñas de un periódico de Connecticut en las décadas de 1950 y 1960. Escritora bastante prolífica, McCloy ganó los premios Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine por los cuentos “Through a Glass, Darkly” (reeditado en The Singing Diamonds, 1965) y “Chinoiserie” (reeditado en 20 Great Tales of Murder, 1951). En 1950, se convirtió en la primera mujer en presidir la Asociación de Escritores de Misterio de Estados Unidos (Mystery Writers of America, MWA) y en 1953, fue galardonanda con un premio Edgar® de la MWA por sus reseñas. En 1971 contribuyó a crear la sección de la MWA en Nueva Inglaterra, y fue nombrada Gran Maestro de la MWA en 1990. Sus contribuciones al género son reconocidas hoy por la beca anual Helen McCloy/MWA para fomentar el talento en la literatura de misterio, ficción, no ficción, obras dramáticas y guiones. Helen McCloy murió en Boston, Massachusetts, el 1 de diciembre de 1994. a los 90 años. Aunque, según otras fuentes, murió en 1992. En 1987, el crítico y escritor de misterio HRF Keating incluyó su título de Basil Willing Mr Splitfoot en una lista de los 100 Mejores Libros de Crimen y Misterio.

Serie de misterio del Dr. Basil Willing: Dance of Death (1938) (UK title: Design for Dying); The Man in the Moonlight (1940); The Deadly Truth (1941); Cue for Murder (1942); Who’s Calling (1942); The Goblin Market (1943); The One That Got Away (1945); Through a Glass, Darkly (1950); Alias Basil Willing (1951); The Long Body (1955); Two-Thirds of a Ghost (1956); The Singing Diamonds (1965) libro de relatos; Mister Splitfoot (1968); Burn This (1980); and The Pleasant Assassin and Other Cases of Dr Basil Willing (Crippen & Landru, 2003) relatos breves, algunos de ellos publicados originalmente en The Singing Diamonds.

Otras Novelas: Unfinished Crime (1954); The Further Side of Fear (1967); The Sleepwalker (1974); The Impostor (1977).

Relatos Breves Recomendados: “Chinoiserie” (1935); “Through a Glass, Darkly” (1948); “The Singing Diamonds” (1949); “Murder Stops the Music” (1957); and “Murphy’s Law” (1979).

My Book Notes: “The Silent Informer”aka “Murder Stops the Music”, 1957 (Dr Basil Willing s.s.) by Helen McCloy

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ellery_queens_mystery_uk_195808My take: “Murder Stops the Music” is a short story by Helen McCloy featuring Dr Basil Willing. It was first published in This Week Jan 27 1957 and  then in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine July 1958 US issue as “The Silent Informer”. A month later it appeared in the UK issue of the same title magazine, and was later collected  at The Pleasant Assassin And Other Cases Of Dr. Basil Willing (Crippen & Landru Publishers, 2003).

The action takes place during the summer in Cape Cod (Massachusetts) around a charity event at the Village Hall. Gertrude Ehrental, a famous concert pianist, who three years ago bought the old Ashley place has  agreed to perform at the local festival. During her performance the light turns off. It seems a fuse has blown, but when the light returns, Gertrud Ehrental is found stabbed to death, slumped on the piano keyboard. All in all, a short but well-plotted mystery.  

About the Author: Helen Worrell Clarkson McCloy (1904-1994). Born in New York City, Helen McCloy was educated in Brooklyn, at the Quaker Friends’ school, and later studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. From 1927-1932 she worked for Hearst’s Universal News Service after which she freelanced as an art critic and contributor to various publications, including the London Morning Post. Shortly after her return to the US she published her first novel, Dance of Death, in 1938, featuring her popular series detective-psychologist Basil Willing. The novel Through a Glass Darkly, a puzzle in the supernatural tradition of John Dickson Carr, is the eighth in the Basil Willing series and is generally acknowledged to be her masterpiece. In 1946 McCloy married fellow author Davis Dresser, famed for his Mike Shayne novels. Together they founded Halliday & McCloy literary agency as well as the Torquil Publishing Company. The couple had one daughter, Chloe, and their marriage ended in 1961. In 1950 Helen McCloy became the first woman president of the Mystery Writers of America and in 1953 she was awarded an Edgar® by the same organisation for her criticism. She helped establish MWA’s New England Chapter in 1971, and was named an MWA Grand Master in 1990. Helen McCloy died in Boston, Massachusetts, on 1 December 1994. aged 90. Although, based on other sources, she died in 1992. In 1987, critic and mystery writer H. R. F. Keating included her Basil Willing title Mr Splitfoot in a list of the 100 best crime and mystery books.

Dr Basil Willing Mystery Series: Dance of Death (1938) (UK title: Design for Dying); The Man in the Moonlight (1940); The Deadly Truth (1941); Cue for Murder (1942); Who’s Calling (1942); The Goblin Market (1943); The One That Got Away (1945); Through a Glass, Darkly (1950); Alias Basil Willing (1951); The Long Body (1955); Two-Thirds of a Ghost (1956); The Singing Diamonds aka Surprise, Surprise (1965) short stories; Mister Splitfoot (1968); Burn This (1980); and The Pleasant Assassin and Other Cases of Dr Basil Willing (Crippen & Landru, 2003) short stories, some of which originally appeared in The Singing Diamonds.

Recommended short stories: “Through a Glass, Darkly” (1948); “The Singing Diamonds” (1949); “Murder Stops the Music” (1957); and “Murphy’s Law” (1979)

Helen McCloy at Golden Age of Detection Wiki

Helen McCloy – by Michael E. Grost

Murder in Mind by Christine Poulson

Helen McCloy (1904-1994) – pseudonym Helen Clarkson

“The Silent Informer” aka “Murder Stops the Music” by Helen McCloy

Mi opinión: “Murder Stops the Music” es un relato breve de Helen McCloy con el Dr. Basil Willing. Se publicó por primera vez en This Week el 27 de enero de 1957, y luego en la edición estadounidense de julio de 1958 de la revista Ellery Queen Mystery como “The Silent Informer”. Un mes después apareció en la edición británica de la revista del mismo título y más tarde se recopiló en The Pleasant Assassin And Other Cases Of Dr. Basil Willing (Crippen & Landru Publishers, 2003).

La acción tiene lugar durante el verano en Cape Cod (Massachusetts) en torno a un evento benéfico en el ayuntamiento. Gertrude Ehrental, una célebre concertista de piano, que compró hace tres años la antigua casa de Ashley, ha aceptado actuar en el festival local. Durante su actuación, la luz se apaga. Parece que se ha fundido un fusible, pero cuando vuelve la luz, Gertrud Ehrental es encontrada muerta a puñaladas, desplomada sobre el teclado del piano. En conjunto, un misterio breve pero con un buen argumento.

Biografía del autor: Helen Worrell Clarkson McCloy (1904-1994). Nacida en la ciudad de Nueva York, Helen McCloy se educó en Brooklyn, en la escuela Quaker Friends’, y luego estudió en la Sorbona de París. De 1927 a 1932 trabajó para el Universal News Service de Hearst, después trabajó de forma independiente como crítica de arte y colaboradora de varias publicaciones, incluido el London Morning Post. Poco después de su regreso a los Estados Unidos, publicó su primera novela, Dance of Death, en 1938, con su popular serie protagonizada por el psiquiatra-detective Basil Willing. La novela Through a Glass Darkly, un enigma en la tradición sobrenatural de John Dickson Carr, es la octava de la serie Basil Willing y generalmente está reconocida como su obra maestra. En 1946 McCloy se casó con el también autor Davis Dresser, famoso por sus novelas de Mike Shayne. Juntos fundaron la agencia literaria Halliday & McCloy y la Torquil Publishing Company. La pareja tuvo una hija, Chloe, y su matrimonio terminó en 1961. En 1950, Helen McCloy se convirtió en la primera mujer en presidir de Mystery Writers of America y en 1953 la misma organización le otorgó un Edgar® por sus reseñas. Contribuyó a crear la sección de Nueva Inglaterra de la MWA en 1971 y fue nombrada Gran Maestre de la MWA en 1990. Helen McCloy murió en Boston, Massachusetts, el 1 de diciembre de 1994. a los 90 años. Aunque, según otras fuentes, murió en 1992. En 1987 , el crítico y escritor de misterios HRF Keating incluyó su novela protagonizada por el Dr, Basil Willing Mr Splitfoot en una lista de los 100 mejores libros de crimen y misterio.

Serie de misterio del Dr. Basil Willing: Dance of Death (1938) (UK title: Design for Dying); The Man in the Moonlight (1940); The Deadly Truth (1941); Cue for Murder (1942); Who’s Calling (1942); The Goblin Market (1943); The One That Got Away (1945); Through a Glass, Darkly (1950); Alias Basil Willing (1951); The Long Body (1955); Two-Thirds of a Ghost (1956); The Singing Diamonds (1965) libro de relatos; Mister Splitfoot (1968); Burn This (1980); and The Pleasant Assassin and Other Cases of Dr Basil Willing (Crippen & Landru, 2003) relatos breves, algunos de ellos publicados originalmente en The Singing Diamonds.

Relatos breves recomendados: “Through a Glass, Darkly” (1948); “The Singing Diamonds” (1949); “Murder Stops the Music” (1957); y “Murphy’s Law” (1979)

Sir Basil Thomson (1861-1939)

NPG x67038; Sir Basil Home ThomsonBasil Thomson, the third son of William Thomson (1819–1890), provost of the Queen’s College and later Archbishop of York, and his wife, Zoë Skene, was born on 21 April 1861 at Oxford. Thomson was educated at Worsley’s School (1866–74), and at Eton College (1874–9). He then went up to New College, but suffering from depression, he left Oxford University after only two terms and in 1882 emigrated to the United States to train as a farmer in Iowa.

According to his biographer, Noel Rutherford: “In 1883 he learned that Grace Webber was contemplating marriage to another, which led to a relapse of his nervous condition and a precipitate return to England. He was able to reach an understanding with the Webbers that if he could establish himself financially a marriage proposal might be entertained, and with that end in mind, and through the good offices of his father, he obtained a place as a cadet in the colonial service attached to Sir William Des Voeux, governor of Fiji.”

In 1884 Thomson was appointed stipendiary magistrate at Nadroga. Richard Deacon argues that “he had a natural gift for learning languages and was made a magistrate at the end of three months, instead of having to wait two years like his fellow cadets.” After three years in Fiji he was transferred to British New Guinea. However, he contracted malaria and was invalided home. After make a full recovery he married Grace Webber in October 1889. The following year he became an adviser to the high commissioner for the Western Pacific. Over the next eleven months Thomson reformed taxation and introduced penal reforms. In 1891 he became assistant commissioner for native affairs in Suva, but in 1893, because of the health of his wife, Thomson returned to England.

Thomson entered the Inner Temple and read for the bar examinations. He also embarked on a career as a writer. This included the publication of South Sea Yarns (1894), The Diversions of a Prime Minister (1894) and The Indiscretions of Lady Asenath (1898). Unable to make a living from writing Thomson became successively governor of Cardiff, Dartmoor and Wormwood Scrubs prisons and from 1908 until 1913 he served as secretary to the Prison Commission. According to Noel Rutherford: “As a prison governor Thomson had to attend all executions carried out in his prison. This seems to have affected him little and he remained a firm advocate of capital punishment. As secretary of the Prison Commission he had to deal with those opposed to it and gave them short shrift. He was equally dismissive of suffragettes, especially when they responded to imprisonment by engaging in hunger strikes.”

In 1913 Thomson was appointed assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and head of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at New Scotland Yard. When the First World War broke out in 1914 the CID became the enforcement arm of the War Office and Admiralty in intelligence matters. Thomson now became head of the 114-man Special Branch, a unit set up to conduct investigations to protect the State from perceived threats of subversion.

Thomson joined forces with Vernon Kell and Eric Holt-Wilson of the Home Section of the Secret Service Bureau, that had responsibility for investigating espionage, sabotage and subversion in Britain, to draft The Defence of the Realm Act (DORA). This was an attempt “to prevent persons communicating with the enemy or obtaining information for that purpose or any purpose calculated to jeopardise the success of the operations of His Majesty’s Forces or to assist the enemy.” This legislation gave the government executive powers to suppress published criticism, imprison without trial and to commandeer economic resources for the war effort. During the war publishing information that was calculated to be indirectly or directly of use to the enemy became an offence and accordingly punishable in a court of law. This included any description of war and any news that was likely to cause any conflict between the public and military authorities.

Thomson later recalled that a major problem in 1914 was spy mania as reports flooded in of German agents working in Britain: “It assumed a virulent epidemic form accompanied by delusions which defied treatment… It attacked all classes indiscriminately and seemed even to find its most fruitful soil in sober, stolid, and otherwise truthful people.” Of the twenty-one German suspects arrested only one was brought to trial. As Christopher Andrew, the author of The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 (2009) has pointed out: “After the outbreak of war…. German military intelligence began to target Britain, though its main priorities remained France and Russia… The most active period for German espionage in Britain was the first winter of the war.”

On 20th October 1914, one of Thomson’s agents, Jeremiah Lynch (1888-1955), arrested German spy, Carl Hans Lody. He received a public trial with his case was reported widely in the press. This provided Thomson with the image of a successful spy catcher. Lody was convicted of war treason and was executed in the Tower of London on 6th November.

Thomson had the responsibility of arresting and interrogating German spies. Twelve of these were executed during the First World War. According to Richard Deacon: “Thomson was contemptuous of the calibre of German spies, claiming that they were untrained for gathering information of any practical value. He was himself one of the most formidable interrogators of his day.”

Basil Thomson recruited Arthur Maundy Gregory as an agent. According to Brian Marriner: “Gregory, a man of diverse talents, had various other sidelines. One of them was compiling dossiers on the sexual habits of people in high positions, even Cabinet members, especially those who were homosexual. Gregory himself was probably a latent homosexual, and hung around homosexual haunts in the West End, picking up information…. There is a strong suggestion that he may well have used this sort of material for purposes of blackmail.”

Thompson later admitted that it was Gregory who told him about the homosexual activities of Sir Roger Casement. “Gregory was the first person… to warn that Casement was particularly vulnerable to blackmail and that if we could obtain possession of his diaries they could prove an invaluable weapon with which to fight his influence as a leader of the Irish rebels and an ally of the Germans.”

On 21st April 1916, Casement was arrested in Rathoneen and subsequently arrested on charges of treason, sabotage and espionage. As Noel Rutherford points out: “Casement’s diaries were retrieved from his luggage, and they revealed in graphic detail his secret homosexual life. Thomson had the most incriminating pages photographed and gave them to the American ambassador, who circulated them widely. They were a significant, if unmentioned, ingredient in the trial and subsequent execution of Casement.” Later, Victor Grayson claimed that Arthur Maundy Gregory had planting the diaries in Casement’s lodgings.

In January 1917, the German military attaché in Madrid transmitted radio messages to Berlin describing the helpful activities of a German spy, code-named H-21. French intelligence agents intercepted the messages and, from the information they contained, identified H-21 as Margareta Zelle (Mata Hari). On 13th February 1917, she was arrested in Paris. Thomson went to France to interrogate her, and concluded that there was no evidence that she was a spy. However, she was executed on 15th October, 1917.

Thomson worked very closely with Vernon Kell of the Home Section of the Secret Service Bureau (MI5). Thomson and Kell decided to create a card-index system on all potential subversives. It is claimed that acquired details of over 16,000 people. It has been claimed that most of these people were just members of left-wing organisations and were not guilty of subversion.

Noel Rutherford has argued: Thomson’s most controversial activities concerned his surveillance of labour organizations. In 1916 the Ministry of Munitions asked him to organize an intelligence operation to report to it on industrial unrest. Thomson culled some of the best men from the CID for this service, and on the basis of their assessments issued regular reports to the ministry and later to the Home Office. In May 1917 a major strike occurred among engineering and munitions workers in response to a ‘comb-out’ to draft unskilled workers from these protected industries into the army. The war cabinet sought Thomson’s advice on the matter. He advised prosecuting the ringleaders. Seven were arrested and the strike was called off in return for a pledge that no further arrests would be made.”

In early 1918 Thomson asked Arthur Maundy Gregory to spy on Victor Grayson, the former MP for Colne Valley, who was described as a “dangerous communist revolutionary”. Gregory was told: “We believe this man may have friends among the Irish rebels. Whatever it is, Grayson always spells trouble. He can’t keep out of it… he will either link up with the Sinn Feiners or the Reds.” Gregory became friendly with Grayson. David Howell writes that “Grayson subsequently lived in apparent affluence – a contrast with his recent poverty – in a West End flat. His associates included Maundy Gregory… The significance of this relationship and the source of Grayson’s income remain unknown.”

In 1919 Thomson was appointed as head of the Directorate of Intelligence. This placed him in overall control of naval, military, foreign, and domestic intelligence. Influenced by the events of the Russian Revolution, Thomson developed a strong fear of a revolution. He later wrote that: “February 1919 was the high-water mark of revolutionary danger in Great Britain. Many of the soldiers were impatient at the delay in demobilization. Russia had shown how apparently easy it was for a determined minority to seize the reins of power.”

Thompson’s promotion created a great deal of jealousy in the intelligence services. Eric Holt-Wilson of MI5 wrote: “Despite statements to the contrary in the press and elsewhere, Sir Basil Thomson’s organization has never actually detected a case of espionage, but has merely arrested and questioned spies at the request of MI5, when the latter organization, which had detected them, considered that the time for arrest had arrived. The Army Council are in favour of entrusting the work to an experienced, tried and successful organization rather than to one which has yet to win its spurs. Sir Basil Thomson’s existing higher staff consists mainly of ex-officers of MI5 not considered sufficiently able for retention by that Department. The Army Council are not satisfied with their ability to perform the necessary duties under Sir Basil Thomson’s direction, and they are satisfied that detective officers alone, without direction from above, are unfitted for the work.”

In 1921 a Secret Service Committee of senior officials was instructed to make recommendations “for reducing expenditure and avoiding over-lapping”. In its report published in July, Thomson’s Directorate of Intelligence, was criticized for overspending, duplicating the work of other agencies and producing misleading reports. Sir William Horwood, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, joined in the attack and sent David Lloyd George a memorandum denouncing “the independence of the Special Branch” under Thomson as a “standing menace to the good discipline of the force” and that the Directorate of Intelligence was both wasteful and inefficient. As a result of these complaints Thomson was asked to resign.

Thomson’s great friend, William Reginald Hall, took up his case in the House of Commons. On 3rd November 1921, Hall declared: “There is no man who has been a better friend of England than Sir Basil Thomson”. He went on to argue that his downfall was due not merely to his “open enemies”, the Bolsheviks, the Russians, the extremists” but to a secret plot that involved the Labour Party.

In December 1925, Thomson and a young woman named Thelma de Lava, were arrested in Hyde Park and charged with committing an act in violation of public decency. Thomson pleaded not guilty and said he was carrying out investigations for an article on prostitution. He was found guilty and fined £5. Christopher Andrew, the author of The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 (2009) has argued: “Thomson’s supporters hinted darkly that he had been framed either by his enemies in the Met or by subversives.”

Basil Thomson’s autobiography, The Scene Changes, was published shortly before his death on 26th March 1939 in Teddington. (Source: Spartacus Educational)

His eight crime novels featuring series character Inspector Richardson were written in the 1930’s and received great praise from Dorothy L. Sayers among others. He also wrote biographical and criminological works.

The Richardson books (the first title given is that of the 2016 Dean Street Press edition)

  • Richardson’s First Case (1933) – originally PC Richardson’s First Case
  • Richardson Scores Again (1934) – retitled Richardson’s Second Case in the US
  • The Case of Naomi Clynes (1934) – originally Inspector Richardson CID, retitled The Case of Naomi Clynes in the US
  • The Case of the Dead Diplomat (1935) – originally Richardson Goes Abroad, retitled The Case of the Dead Diplomat in the US
  • The Dartmoor Enigma (1935) – originally Richardson Solves a Dartmoor Mystery, retitled The Dartmoor Enigma in the US
  • Who Killed Stella Pomeroy? (1936) – originally Death in the Bathroom, retitled Who Killed Stella Pomeroy? in the US
  • The Milliner’s Hat Mystery (1937) – originally Milliner’s Hat Mystery, retitled The Mystery of the French Milliner in the US
  • A Murder Arranged (1937) – retitled When Thieves Fall Out in the US

Further reading:

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(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Doubleday The Crime Club (USA), 1934)

9781911095712_p0_v2_s550x406Description

“The late Miss Clynes, sir? How dreadful. It must have been very sudden.”

“It was.”

Naomi Clynes was found dead, her head in the gas-oven. She left a suicide note, but Richardson, newly promoted to the rank of Inspector in the C.I.D., soon has cause to think this is a case of murder. With scarcely a clue beyond a postmark and a postage stamp, treasured by the deceased, he succeeds in bringing home the crime to a person whom no one would have suspected.

The Case of Naomi Clynes was originally published in 1934. This new edition, the first in many decades, features an introduction by crime novelist Martin Edwards, author of acclaimed genre history The Golden Age of Murder. (Source: Dean Street Press)

The Case of Naomi Clynes has been reviewed, among others, by TomCat at Beneath the Stains of Time and by J F Norris at Pretty Sinister Books.

My Book Notes: Through a Glass, Darkly, 1950 (Dr Basil Willing # 8) by Helen McCloy

Esta entrada es bilingüe. Desplazarse hacia abajo para ver la versión en español

The Murder Room, 2014. Book Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 891 KB. Print Length: 256 pages. ASIN: B00NT7EFY8. ISBN: 978-1-4719-1247-4. First published in the US by Random House, in 1950 and in the UK by Gollancz, in 1951. The novel is based on McCloy short story “Through a Glass Darkly”, published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine (September 1948). It was subsequently serialized in The New York Daily News from Nov. 6, 1949 to Jan. 15, 1950, and later expanded into the 1950 full-length novel by the same title.

9781471912481Description: Gisela von Hohenems joins the teaching staff of an exclusive girls’ school in upstate New York, where she befriends fellow newcomer Faustina Coyle. But a climate of fear surrounds Faustina, and after several strange incidents that defy rational explanation, she is forced to resign. Gisela asks her fiancé, detective-psychologist Dr Basil Willing, to investigate in this highly acclaimed horror-mystery with shades of M. R. James. 

My Take: The story opens at Brereton, an exclusive female boarding school in Connecticut. The headmistress, Mrs Lightfoot, has called Faustina Coyle, a newcomer art teacher, to tell her she must leave at once. Tomorrow, at the latest. She’s fired with six months’ pay, of course, as per her contract but without further explanation. When Faustina requests a clarification, the only reply she gets is that she doesn’t quite fit into the Brereton pattern. Even more surprising, Mrs Lightfoot won’t provide her any letter of reference, what will jeopardize her professional career. We soon realise Faustina doesn’t seem to get along well with the rest of the staff at Brereton, with the only exception of Gisela von Hohenems, whom we met previously at The Man in the Moonlight (Dr Basil Willing # 2). Gisela has now become Willing’s girl friend –as a matter of fact she will married Willing in later novels and will become the mother of Basil’s only daughter. Therefore she writes a letter to Willing, who at the time is abroad, pointing out to him ‘there is something sinister about the whole affair, and, to tell you the shameless truth, I’m beginning to be a little bit frightened myself. More than ever, I wish you were in New York. I know that you would find some reasonable explanation for the whole thing.’ I wouldn’t like to add a lot more not to spoil you the pleasure of finding it out by yourselves. Suffice is to say the story revolves around paranormal phenomena, and it will depend on Dr Basil Willing to find a rational explanation for what happened and for what will take place afterwards.

Since I read the first Helen McCloy’s novels, I was convinced she will soon become one of my favourite writers, and this novel, in particular, confirms it. In Through a Glass, Darkly, I find Helen McCloy on top form. The story, an impossible crime, is wildly original and is carefully crafted. I can understand why is frequently  regarded a masterpiece. Not in vain, it came up number twelve in the famous list of top impossible crime novels, collected in 1981 by Ed Hoch. It is well possible that its ending might not be to the liking of all readers, although for my taste it’s superb. Furthermore, McCloy has manage to create the right atmosphere in which the plot unfolds. It is quite true that, occasionally, the story departs from the subject with particulars that, even though interesting, are beside the point, but this is something I can easily forgive. And as Martin Edwards stresses McCloy was clearly a highly intelligent person with whom it would have been interesting to be able to speak to. I would like to conclude citing Noah Stewart: Through A Glass, Darkly is certainly a well-written book with a great deal of creepy atmosphere, effective and subtle characterization, a good deal of interesting observation of the minutiae of dress and ornament of the late 1940s in the US of interest to social historians, an intelligently conceived plot and a theme that is woven through the action of the book. I highly recommend this novel to you.’

Now I’m off to read Mister Splitfoot, usually considered another of her masterpieces, while expecting that Agora Books reissues the rest of her oeuvre.

Through a Glass, Darkly has been reviewed, among others, at At the Scene of the Crime, Ho-Ling – Where I write about detective fiction, Death Can Read, ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’, Clothes in Books, Noah’s Archives, My Reader’s Block, Tipping My Fedora, ahsweetmysteryblog, Classic Mysteries, The Green Capsule, Dead Yesterday, Suddenly at His Residence, Cross-Examining Crime, and In Reference to Murder.

2339

(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Random House (USA), 1950)

About the Author: Helen McCloy was born in New York City, on 6 June 1904 to writer Helen Worrell McCloy and William McCloy, managing editor of the New York Evening Sun. After discovering a love for Sherlock Holmes as young girl, McCloy began writing her own mystery novels in the 1930s. In 1938 she introduced her psychiatrist-detective Dr Basil Willing, who debuted in her first novel Dance of Death (William Morrow & Co., 1938). He appeared in thirteen of McCloy’s novels and several short stories acting as a paid consultant to New York City’s District Attorney. Willing is famous for saying, “every criminal leaves psychic fingerprints, and he can’t wear gloves to hide them.” Dr. Willing also appears in McCloy’s 1955 supernatural mystery Through a Glass, Darkly — hailed as her masterpiece and likened to John Dickson Carr. Although McCloy was known primarily as a mystery novelist, she published under the pseudonym Helen Clarkson also a science fiction story, The Last Day (1959), regarded as the first really technically well-informed novel on the subject. McCloy went on in the 1950s and 1960s to co-author the review column for a Connecticut newspaper. A rather prolific author, McCloy won Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine awards for the short stories “Through a Glass, Darkly” (reprinted in The Singing Diamonds, 1965) and “Chinoiserie” (reprinted in 20 Great Tales of Murder, 1951). In 1950, she became the first female president of Mystery Writers of America (MWA) and in 1953, she was honoured with an Edgar® Award from the MWA for her critiques. She helped to establish MWA’s New England Chapter in 1971, and was named an MWA Grand Master in 1990. Her contributions to the genre are recognized today by the annual Helen McCloy/MWA Scholarship to nurture talent in mystery writing—in fiction, nonfiction, playwriting, and screenwriting. Helen McCloy died in Boston, Massachusetts, on 1 December 1994. aged 90. Although, based on other sources, she died in 1992. In 1987, critic and mystery writer H. R. F. Keating included her Basil Willing title Mister Splitfoot in a list of the 100 best crime and mystery books ever published.md11682504259

The Dr Basil Willing Mysteries: Dance of Death (1938) (UK title: Design for Dying); The Man in the Moonlight (1940); The Deadly Truth (1941); Cue for Murder (1942); Who’s Calling (1942); The Goblin Market (1943); The One That Got Away (1945); Through a Glass, Darkly (1950); Alias Basil Willing (1951); The Long Body (1955); Two-Thirds of a Ghost (1956); The Singing Diamonds aka Surprise, Surprise (1965) short stories; Mister Splitfoot (1968); Burn This (1980); and The Pleasant Assassin and Other Cases of Dr Basil Willing (Crippen & Landru, 2003) short stories, some of which originally appeared in The Singing Diamonds.

Other Fiction: Do Not Disturb (1943); Panic (1944); She Walks Alone (1948) aka Wish Your Were Dead; Better Off Dead (1949); Unfinished Crime aka He Never Came Back (1954); The Slayer and the Slain (1957); Before I Die (1963); The Further Side of Fear (1967); Question of Time (1971); A Change of Heart (1973); The Sleepwalker (1974); Minotaur Country (1975); Cruel as the Grave (1976) aka The Changeling Conspiracy; The Impostor (1977); and The Smoking Mirror (1979)

Recommended Short Stories: “Chinoiserie” (1935); “Through a Glass, Darkly” (1948) later expanded into a novel of the same name in 1950; “The Singing Diamonds” (1949); “Murder Stops the Music” (1957); and “Murphy’s Law” (1979).

The Orion Publishing House publicity page

Helen McCloy at Golden Age of Detection Wiki

Helen McCloy – by Michael E. Grost

Murder in Mind by Christine Poulson

Helen McCloy (1904-1994) – pseudonym Helen Clarkson

Through a Glass, Darkly, de Helen McCloy

Descripción: Gisela von Hohenems se incorpora al profesorado de una exclusiva escuela femenina en el norte del estado de Nueva York, donde se hace amiga de otra compañera recién llegada Faustina Coyle. Pero un clima de miedo envuelve a Faustina, y después de varios incidentes extraños que desafían toda explicación racional, se ve obligada a dimitir. Gisela le pide a su prometido, el psicólogo y detective Dr. Basil Willing, que investigue este muy aplaudido misterio de terror con matices de M. R. James.

Mi opinión: La historia comienza en Brereton, un exclusivo internado femenino en Connecticut. La directora, la Sra. Lightfoot, ha llamado a Faustina Coyle, una profesora de arte recién llegada, para decirle que debe irse de inmediato. Mañana, a más tardar. La despiden con seis meses de sueldo, por supuesto, según su contrato, pero sin más explicaciones. Cuando Faustina solicita una aclaración, la única respuesta que recibe es que no encaja del todo en el modelo de Brereton. Aún más sorprendente, la Sra. Lightfoot no le proporcionará ninguna carta de recomendación, lo que pondrá en peligro su carrera profesional. Pronto nos damos cuenta de que Faustina no parece llevarse bien con el resto del personal de Brereton, con la única excepción de Gisela von Hohenems, a quien conocimos anteriormente en The Man in the Moonlight (Dr. Basil Willing # 2). Gisela ahora se ha convertido en la novia de Willing; de hecho, se casará con Willing en novelas posteriores y se convertirá en la madre de la única hija de Basil. Por eso le escribe una carta a Willing, que en ese momento se encuentra en el extranjero, indicándole que “hay algo siniestro en todo el asunto y, para ser sincera, estoy empezando a asustarme un poco. Más que nunca, desearía que estuvieras en Nueva York. Sé que encontrarás una explicación razonable para todo esto.” No quisiera añadir mucho más para no estropearles el placer de descubrirlo por ustedes mismos. Basta decir que la historia gira en torno a fenómenos paranormales, y dependerá del Dr. Basil Willing encontrar una explicación racional de lo que sucedió y de lo que sucederá después.

Desde que leí las primeras novelas de Helen McCloy, estaba convencido de que pronto se convertiría en una de mis escritoras favoritas, y esta novela, en particular, lo confirma. En Through a Glass, Darkly, encuentro a Helen McCloy en plena forma. La historia, un crimen imposible, es tremendamente original y está cuidadosamente elaborada. Puedo entender por qué con frecuencia se considera una obra maestra. No en vano, ocupó el puesto número doce en la famosa lista de los principales misterios imposibles, recopilada en 1981 por Ed Hoch. Es muy posible que su final no sea del agrado de todos los lectores, aunque para mi gusto es soberbio. Además, McCloy ha logrado crear la atmósfera adecuada en la que se desarrolla la trama. Es muy cierto que, en ocasiones, la historia se aparta del tema con detalles que, aunque interesantes, no vienen al caso, pero esto es algo que puedo perdonar fácilmente. Y como Martin Edwards subraya, McCloy era claramente una persona muy inteligente con la que habría sido interesante poder hablar. Me gustaría concluir citando a Noah Stewart: Through A Glass, Darkly es ciertamente un libro bien escrito con una  atmósfera tremendamente espeluznante, una caracterización efectiva y sutil, una buena cantidad de observaciones interesantes sobre las nimiedades de los trajes y adornos de finales de la década de los 40 en los Estados Unidos de interés para los historiadoree sociales, una trama inteligentemente diseñada y un tema que se entrelaza con la acción del libro. Le recomiendo encarecidamente esta novela.”

Ahora me voy a leer Mister Splitfoot, generalmente considerada otra de sus obras maestras, mientras espero que Agora Books reedite el resto de su obra.

Acerca del autor: Helen McCloy nació en la ciudad de Nueva York, el 6 de junio de 1904, hija de la escritora Helen Worrell McCloy y William McCloy, editor en jefe del New York Evening Sun. Después de descubrir su afición por Sherlock Holmes cuando era niña, McCloy comenzó a escribir sus propias novelas de misterio en la década de 1930. En 1938 presentó a su psiquiatra-detective, el Dr. Basil Willing, en su primera novela, Dance of Death. El Dr. Basil Willing aparece en 13 novelas de McCloy, así como en varios relatos breves actuando como consultor remunerado del fiscal de distrito de la ciudad de Nueva York. Willing es famoso por decir: “todo criminal deja huellas dactilares psíquicas y no puede usar guantes para ocultarlas”. El Dr. Willing también aparece en el misterio sobrenatural de McCloy de 1955 Through a Glass, Darkly, aclamado como su obra maestra a semejanza de John Dickson Carr. Aunque McCloy era conocida principalmente como una novelista de misterio, también publicó bajo el seudónimo de Helen Clarkson una historia de ciencia ficción,The Last Day (1959), considerada la primera novela realmente bien fundamentada sobre el tema. McCloy pasó a ser coautora de la columna de reseñas de un periódico de Connecticut en las décadas de 1950 y 1960. Escritora bastante prolífica, McCloy ganó los premios Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine por los cuentos “Through a Glass, Darkly” (reeditado en The Singing Diamonds, 1965) y “Chinoiserie” (reeditado en 20 Great Tales of Murder, 1951). En 1950, se convirtió en la primera mujer en presidir la Asociación de Escritores de Misterio de Estados Unidos (Mystery Writers of America, MWA) y en 1953, fue galardonanda con un premio Edgar® de la MWA por sus reseñas. En 1971 contribuyó a crear la sección de la MWA en Nueva Inglaterra, y fue nombrada Gran Maestro de la MWA en 1990. Sus contribuciones al género son reconocidas hoy por la Beca anual Helen McCloy/MWA para fomentar el talento en la literatura de misterio, ficción, ficción, obras dramáticas y guiones. Helen McCloy murió en Boston, Massachusetts, el 1 de diciembre de 1994. a los 90 años. Aunque, según otras fuentes, murió en 1992.En 1987, el crítico y escritor de misterio HRF Keating incluyó su título de Basil Willing Mister Splitfoot en una lista de los 100 mejores libros de crimen y misterio jamás publicados.

Serie de misterio del Dr. Basil Willing: Dance of Death (1938) (UK title: Design for Dying); The Man in the Moonlight (1940); The Deadly Truth (1941); Cue for Murder (1942); Who’s Calling (1942); The Goblin Market (1943); The One That Got Away (1945); Through a Glass, Darkly (1950); Alias Basil Willing (1951); The Long Body (1955); Two-Thirds of a Ghost (1956); The Singing Diamonds (1965) libro de relatos; Mister Splitfoot (1968); Burn This (1980); and The Pleasant Assassin and Other Cases of Dr Basil Willing (Crippen & Landru, 2003) relatos breves, algunos de ellos publicados originalmente en The Singing Diamonds.

Otras Obras Recomendadas: Unfinished Crime (1954); The Further Side of Fear (1967); The Sleepwalker (1974); The Impostor (1977).

Relatos Breves Recomendados: “Chinoiserie” (1935); “Through a Glass, Darkly” (1948); “The Singing Diamonds” (1949); “Murder Stops the Music” (1957); and “Murphy’s Law” (1979).