The Resurrection of Brian Flynn by Steve Barge and Kate Jackson was another presentation I could follow in full at Bodies From the Library 2021 Zoom Conference last Saturday. For those who might not know them:
Steve Barge reviews crime fiction, both classic and modern at his blog, In Search Of The Classic Mystery Novel. He divides his time between looking for classic mystery plots in modern releases and investigating the lost authors of the Golden Age, in particular Brian Flynn, where he has been instrumental in getting Flynn’s first ten books reprinted.
Kate Jackson has been hooked on crime, (well the reading of), since university and shares her thoughts on the topic at her blog, Cross-Examining Crime, as well as in CADs magazine. She is a CWA member and compiler of the puzzles in The Pocket Detective and The Pocket Detective 2. She also contributed to the publication: The 100 Greatest Literary Detectives (2018), ed. by Eric Sandberg, writing on Juanita Sheridan’s Lily Wu.
Their presentation took the form of an interview wherein Kate Jackson was the interviewer and Steve Barge the interviewee.
But, who was Brian Flynn?
Up to now the only information available in the Internet referred to Brian Flynn (1885 – 1958), an English author and an accountant in government service, a lecturer in elocution and speech, an amateur actor, who wrote about 50 novels, mostly for the library market. His serial character is Anthony Bathurst. (gadetection) In addition to that you may check the following post at Mystery File, and the Classic Crime Fiction page, but besides that very little was known.
Now we know that Brian Flynn was born in 1885 in Leyton, Essex. He won a scholarship to the City Of London School, and from there went into the civil service. In World War I he served as Special Constable on the Home Front, also teaching “Accountancy, Languages, Maths and Elocution to men, women, boys and girls” in the evenings, and acting in his spare time. It was a seaside family holiday that inspired Brian Flynn to turn his hand to writing in the mid-twenties. Finding most mystery novels of the time “mediocre in the extreme”, he decided to compose his own. Edith, the author’s wife, encouraged its completion, and after a protracted period finding a publisher, it was eventually released in 1927 by John Hamilton in the UK and Macrae Smith in the U.S. as The Billiard-Room Mystery. The author died in 1958. In all, he wrote and published 57 mysteries, the vast majority featuring the super-sleuth Anthony Bathurst. (Source: Dean Street Press)
Unfortunately, Brian Flynn books until recently were, and some still are, very difficult to find. But thanks to the combine efforts of the nice folks at Dean Street Press and of crime fiction historian Steve Barge, the first twenty books have been republished and and, later this year, will come to light the following ten. All them with an Introduction by Steve Barge.
The suggested readings for the Conference were: The Mystery Of The Peacock’s Eye; The Murders Near Mapleton; Murder en Route; The Fortescue Candle; and Tread Softly. The last two I’m looking forward to reading shortly. Stay tuned.
You may find more information about Brian Flynn at In Search Of The Classic Mystery Novel.
“The gentleman in Number Fifty-four—Mr. Griggs—’e’s been murdered!”
Albert Griggs, the Secretary of State for Home Affairs, is considering an important case. Two brothers have killed a servant-girl in the course of a robbery. Griggs looks at the facts carefully and comes to his final decision – he will not overturn the death penalty.
Was it this execution that led to Griggs being found shot in a hotel room? Or the fact that he had been accused by taking liberties with a certain young lady? Griggs had many enemies – and one of them hated him enough to murder him. But when Anthony Bathurst investigates, he finds something even more perplexing – how is the murder linked to the poisoning of Daphne Arbuthnot, an actress, on stage in the middle of a performance? And how is the Ku Klux Klan involved?
The Fortescue Candle was originally published in 1936. This new edition features an introduction by crime fiction historian Steve Barge.
“This man Merivale admits that he killed his wife. Makes no bones about it whatever. Confesses that he strangled her. But he says that he was fast asleep at the time that he was doing it. That all he did, he did in a dream.”
Chief Inspector MacMorran is up against the most extraordinary case of his career – a self-confessed killer who may well be found innocent given the circumstances. MacMorran is sure that Merivale is the murderer, but, worried about exoneration in court, he recruits investigator Anthony Bathurst to find evidence to convict.
Bathurst isn’t convinced. If Merivale killed his wife deliberately, why pick such a risky story which is just as likely to convict as clear him? But if Merivale is innocent, was a third party involved? And if so – how?
Tread Softly was first published in 1937. This new edition features an introduction by Steve Barge.