Pat McGerr (1917 – 1985)

mcgerrA fourth-generation Nebraska daughter, Patricia “Pat” McGerr (December 26, 1917 – May 11, 1985) made her literary reputation as the writer of seventeen novels (most of them mysteries, but a few telling stories of women of the early Catholic Church), and more than fifty short stories. She won an Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine/MWA prize for her 1968 story “Match Point in Berlin,” the Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere in 1952 for her 1951 novel Follow, As the Night, and her first novel, Pick Your Victim (1946), was selected as one of the Fifty Classics of Crime Fiction, 1900-1950.

Although she was born in Falls City, Nebraska, her family settled in Lincoln, where McGerr graduated from UN-L with a Bachelor of Arts. Her mother was one of the seven Dore sisters, well known in Lincoln, and this is alluded to jokingly in the title to one of her first books, The Seven Deadly Sisters (1947). After graduation, Patricia and her three sisters moved to Washington, D.C. and eventually New York City.

Earning a masters in journalism at Columbia University in 1937, she worked in public relations and as an assistant editor of an industry magazine in New York City. In her thirteenth novel, she had finally reclaimed her full first name — Patricia. “My publisher thought that the name ‘Pat’ sounded masculine and many male readers of mysteries would be put off by a woman author of such fiction unless she were a Mignon Eberhart or an Agatha Christie.” A television series, based on McGerr’s recurring character, Selena Mead, starring Polly Bergen, was planned for CBS Television in 1965-66 but never got to the air. Patricia McGerr died May 11, 1985 in Bethesda, Maryland, at the age of 67. (Source: City of Lincoln Nebraska Libraries)

McGerr is principally known for having created a hitherto-unknown twist on the traditional whodunnit. Her best-known novel, Pick Your Victim (1946), tells the story of a small group of American soldiers in an isolated Arctic base who are desperate for reading material and diversion. They find a torn scrap of newspaper which has arrived as the cushioning for a parcel. The torn scrap tells part of the story of a man who has been convicted of a murder, and who is known personally by one of the GIs—the murderer is identified, but the name of the victim has been torn away. The GIs form a betting pool and pump their informant for every bit of information about any potential victim to enable them to better place their bets, and the story told by the informant is the body of the novel. At the end, the name of the victim is revealed. McGerr’s other novels were sometimes ingenious but rarely commercially successful. The Seven Deadly Sisters (1947) attempts a similar inversion of the whodunnit formula, with less success. Near the end of her writing career, McGerr created a continuing character, Selena Mead, who became involved in espionage-based plots in and around Washington, D.C. (Source: Wikipedia)

Bibliography: Pick Your Victim (1946); The Seven Deadly Sisters (1947); Catch Me if You Can (1948); Save the Witness (1949); Follow, As the Night (1949) aka Your Loving VictimDeath in a Million Living Rooms (1951) aka Die Laughing; Fatal in My Fashion (1954); Is There a Traitor in the House? (1965); Murder is Absurd (1967); Stranger with My Face (1968); For Richer For Poorer Till Death (1969); Legacy of Danger (1970); Daughter of Darkness (1974); Dangerous Landing (1975) (Source: Golden Age of Detection Wiki)

To the best of my knowledge Pat McGerr books are out of print, difficult to find in the second hand market at a decent price and no electronic editions exist.


(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Collins The Crime Club (UK) 1947)

Synopsis: A group of Marines in the Aleutians learn of a murder from an incomplete newspaper. They know who confessed to the crime but not the identity of the victim. Pete, one of the Marines once knew the suspects. They have a lottery based on the victim’s identity while Pete tells what he remembers about them.

Pick Your Victim has been reviewed, among others, by Marvin Lachman at Mystery File, TomCat at Beneath the Stains of Time, Xavier Lechard at Golden Age of Detection Wiki, Pietro De Palma at Death Can Read, Noah Stewart at Noah’s Archive, Rusty at Justice for the Corpse, Kate Jackson at Cross-examining Crime, and Jim Noy at The Invisible Event.

Patricia McGerr by Micahel E.Grost


8621d698f6fe220fbb87e6342111b310dell0212backMapback is a term used by paperback collectors to refer to the earliest paperback books published by Dell Books, beginning in 1943. The books are known as mapbacks because the back cover of the book contains a map that illustrates the location of the action. Dell books were numbered in series. Mapbacks extend from #5 to at least #550; then maps became less of a fixed feature of the books and disappeared entirely in 1951. (Numbers 1 through 4 had no map, although a later re-publication of #4, The American Gun Mystery by Ellery Queen, added a map.) The occasional number in the series between #5 and #550 contains no map, but some sort of full-page graphic or text connected with the book’s contents. … the Dell ‘mapbacks’ are among the most well known vintage paperbacks.

I wasn’t aware what the term “mapback” really meant until I came across the book I’m reading right now: Helen McCloy “Cue for Murder” Dell Mapback #212. And I thought it was worth sharing it for those who might not be  familiar with this term.

My Book Notes: The Rising of the Moon, 1945 (Mrs Bradley #18) by Gladys Mitchell

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Thomas & Mercer, 2014. Book Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 4280 KB. Print Length: 281 Pages. ASIN: B00IEIIOA8. ISBN-13: 978-1-4778-1888-6. First published in Great Britain by Michael Joseph, 1945. 

51GCGJJ0BILSynopsis: Could there be a Jack-the-Ripper copycat in the sleepy village of Brentford? Two women have been found brutally murdered, each under the light of a full moon. When a third mutilated body is identified, brothers Simon and Keith Innes discover that their brother Jack was mysteriously absent from their home on that last moonlit night. After Jack’s snob’s knife goes missing from his tool box, Simon and Keith have no choice but to investigate and clear his name. With the help of the peculiar amateur detective Mrs. Bradley, the brothers race to find answers…before the rising of another full moon. The belovedly eccentric Mrs. Bradley and her ingenious sleuthing are sure to impress in this cleverly woven classic. You’ll never guess who lurks in the shadows—and why.

My Take: The story is narrated from the perspective of Simon Innes, a thirteen-year-old boy. Simon lives together with his younger brother Keith, aged eleven, in Brentford, now-a-days a suburban town in West London, where the story takes place. They are orphans in care of their older brother Jack who lives with his wife June, their three-year-old son Tom and Christina, a lodger whom June is jealous of because of her beauty. Although published in 1945, the story takes place some years before the outbreak of WW II. When the story begins, Simon and Keith are enjoying their Easter holidays, wandering unsupervised through town in search of adventure. A small antique and junk shop, sometimes displaying  weapons like daggers, swords and old horse-pistols, is their favourite spot to play. A queer old woman, in charge of the shop, lets them come in and touch whatever takes their fancy. She addresses them always formally, him as Mr Innes and his brother like Mr Keith.

Brentford’s carefree life is disrupted one day when a Jack-the-Ripper style serial killer begins murdering young women on full moon nights. Simon and Keith find it an opportunity to deploy their skills as sleuths and they get to work on the case. However, one day they will be shocked with one of their findings. Just after the discovery of a third victim, they begin to suspect that their own brother, Jack, might be the murderer, and they are determined to do whatever it takes to help him. This is the moment when Dame Beatrice Lestrange Bradley shows up in Brentford and, despite their initial reticence, the two brother gain her trust and decide to help her.

My interest in this novel arose as a consequence of the conference Bodies from the Library this year. The story was among the suggested readings and, so far, my knowledge of Gladys Mitchell works was limited only to The Saltmarsh Murders. For lack of a better term, The Rising of the Moon is a detective novel that could well be described as peculiar. It’s peculiar in the sense that the narrator is a thirteen-year-old boy, in that despite being published in 1945 the action takes place sometime before WW II, and because Mrs Bradley appears almost half way through the novel in what could be considered a secondary role. It turns out being curious to highlight that even though the story revolves around a serial killer, it’s extremely original given the choice of the leading role and narrator of the story. A choice not without risk that clearly reflects the spirit of innovation in Gladys Mitchell’s novels. She not only comes out with success of this challenge, but she writes her best novel in accordance with some reviewers. And I won’t be who will question it.

The Rising of the Moon has been reviewed, among others, by Les Blatt at Classic Mysteries, Nick Fuller at Golden Age of Detection Wiki, Patrick Ohl At the Scene of the Crime, Jason Half at The Stone House, and Moira at Clothes In Books.

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(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets, LLC. Michael Joseph (UK) 1945)

About the Author: Gladys Maude Winifred Mitchell was an English author best known for her character of  Mrs Bradley, the heroine of 66 detective novels. She also wrote under the pseudonyms Stephen Hockaby and Malcolm Torrie. Gladys Mitchell was born in Cowley, near Oxford on 19 April 1901 to James Mitchell, a market gardener of Scottish parentage, and his wife Annie. She was educated at Rothschild School, Brentford and The Green School, Isleworth, before attending Goldsmiths College and University College London from 1919 to 1921. Upon her graduation, Mitchell became a teacher of history, English and games at St Paul’s School, Brentford until 1925. She then taught at St Ann’s Senior Girls School, Hanwell until 1939. In 1926 she obtained an external diploma in European History from University College, and she then began writing novels while continuing to teach. In 1941 she joined Brentford Senior Girls School, where she stayed until 1950. After a three-year break from teaching, she took a job at Matthew Arnold School, Staines, where she taught English and history, coached hurdling and wrote the annual school play until her retirement to Corfe Mullen, Dorset in 1961, where she lived until her death on 27 July 1983, aged 82.

Although primarily remembered for her mystery novels, Mitchell also published ten children’s books under her own name, historical fiction under the pseudonym Stephen Hockaby, and more detective fiction under the pseudonym Malcolm Torrie. She also wrote a great many short stories, all of which were first published in the Evening Standard. She was an early member of the Detection Club along with G. K. Chesterton, Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers and throughout the 1930s was considered to be one of the “Big Three women detective writers”, but she often challenged and mocked the conventions of the genre – notably in her earliest books, such as the first novel Speedy Death (1929), where there is a particularly surprising twist to the plot, or her parodies of Christie in The Mystery of a Butcher’s Shop (1929) and The Saltmarsh Murders (1932). She was a member of the Middlesex Education Association, the British Olympic Association, the Crime Writers’ Association, PEN and the Society of Authors. In 1976 she was awarded the Crime Writers’ Association Silver Dagger.

Selected bibliography: The Mystery of a Butcher’s Shop (1929), The Saltmarsh Murders (1932), Death at the Opera (1934), The Devil at Saxon Wall (1935), Come Away, Death (1937), Brazen Tongue (1940), When Last I Died (1941), The Rising of the Moon (1945), Death and the Maiden (1947), The Dancing Druids (1948), Tom Brown’s Body (1949), Groaning Spinney (1950), The Echoing Strangers (1952), Merlin’s Furlong (1953), Dance to Your Daddy (1969), Nest of Vipers (1979), and The Greenstone Griffins (1983).

A Gladys Mitchell Tribute Site has reviews of almost all the books in its Bibliography section.

The Stone House: A Gladys Mitchell Tribute Site

Artistic Difference: What makes GLADYS MITCHELL special?

Mary Jean DeMarr on Gladys Mitchell (1989)

Gladys Mitchell at Golden Age of Detection Wiki

Gladys Mitchell Obituary

Cuando sale la luna, de Gladys Mitchell (tr. Maria de los Angeles Via Rivera)

Spanish Translation 2012 Madrid: Fábulas de Albión, as Cuando sale la luna, tr. Maria de los Angeles Via Rivera.

9788493937928Sinopsis: ¿Podría existir un imitador de Jack el Destripador en el tranquilo pueblo de Brentford? Dos mujeres han aparecido brutalmente asesinadas, cada una bajo la luz de una noche de luna llena. Cuando aparece un tercer cuerpo mutilado, los hermanos Simon y Keith Innes descubren que su hermano Jack estaba misteriosamente ausente de su casa esa última noche de luna llena. Después de que la navaja snob de Jack desaparece de su caja de herramientas, Simon y Keith no tienen más remedio que investigar y limpiar su nombre. Con la ayuda de la peculiar detective aficionada Mrs. Bradley, los hermanos se apresuran a encontrar respuestas … antes de otra noche de luna llena. La ecantadoramente excéntrica Mrs. Bradley y su ingeniosa investigación seguramente impresionarán en este clásico inteligentemente entrelazado. Usted  nunca adivinará quién acecha en las sombras y por qué.

Mi opinión: La historia está narrada desde la perspectiva de Simon Innes, un niño de trece años. Simon vive con su hermano menor Keith, de once años, en Brentford, hoy una ciudad suburbana en el oeste de Londres, donde tiene lugar la historia. Son huérfanos al cuidado de su hermano mayor Jack, que vive con su esposa June, su hijo de tres años Tom y Christina, una inquilina de quien June siente celos por su belleza. Aunque se publicó en 1945, la historia tiene lugar algunos años antes del estallido de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Cuando comienza la historia, Simon y Keith disfrutan de sus vacaciones de Pascua, vagando sin supervisión por la ciudad en busca de aventuras. Una pequeña tienda de antigüedades y trastos viejos, que a veces exhibe armas como dagas, espadas y viejas pistolas de arzón, es su lugar favorito para jugar. Una extraña señora mayor, a cargo de la tienda, les deja entrar y tocar lo que les apetezca. Ella se dirige siempre a ellos de manera formal, a él como señor Innes y a su hermano como señor Keith.

La vida despreocupada de Brentford se ve interrumpida un día cuando un asesino en serie al estilo de Jack el Destripador comienza a asesinar a mujeres jóvenes en las noches de luna llena. Simon y Keith encuentran una oportunidad para desplegar sus habilidades como detectives y se ponen a trabajar en el caso. Sin embargo, un día se sorprenderán con uno de sus hallazgos. Justo después del descubrimiento de una tercera víctima, comienzan a sospechar que su propio hermano, Jack, podría ser el asesino, y están decididos a hacer lo que sea necesario para ayudarlo. Este es el momento en que Dame Beatrice Lestrange Bradley aparece en Brentford y, a pesar de su reticencia inicial, los dos hermanos se ganan su confianza y deciden ayudarla.

Mi interés por esta novela surgió como consecuencia de la conferencia Bodies from the Library de este año. La historia estaba entre las lecturas sugeridas y, hasta ahora, mi conocimiento de las obras de Gladys Mitchell se limitaba solo a The Saltmarsh Murders. A falta de un término mejor, The Rising of the Moon es una novela policíaca que bien podría describirse como peculiar. Es peculiar en el sentido de que el narrador es un niño de trece años, en que a pesar de estar publicada en 1945 la acción tiene lugar en algún momento anterior a la Segunda Guerra Mundial, y porque la Sra. Bradley aparece casi a la mitad de la novela en lo que podría considerarse un papel secundario. Resulta curioso resaltar que aunque la historia gira en torno a un asesino en serie, es sumamente original dada la elección del protagonista y narrador de la historia. Una elección no exenta de riesgos que refleja claramente el espíritu de innovación en las novelas de Gladys Mitchell. Ella no solo sale con éxito de este desafío, sino que escribe su mejor novela de acuerdo con algunos críticos. Y no seré yo quien lo ponga en duda.

Acerca del autor: Gladys Maude Winifred Mitchell fue una autora inglesa más conocida por su personaje de la señora Bradley, la heroína de 66 novelas de detectives. También escribió bajo los seudónimos de Stephen Hockaby y Malcolm Torrie. Gladys Mitchell nació en Cowley, cerca de Oxford, el 19 de abril de 1901, hija de James Mitchell, un horticultor de ascendencia escocesa, y de su mujer Annie. Fue educada en el Rothschild School, de Brentford y en el Green School, de Isleworth, antes de asistir al Goldsmiths College y al University College de Londres de 1919 a 1921. Tras su graduación, Mitchell pasó a ser profesora de historia, inglés y juegos en St Paul’s School, de Brentford hasta 1925. Luego enseñó en el St Ann’s Senior Girls School, de Hanwell hasta 1939. En 1926 se diplomó en Historia Europea por el University College, y luego comenzó a escribir novelas mientras continuaba enseñando. En 1941 formó parte del profesorado de la Brentford Senior Girls School, donde permaneció hasta 1950. Tras un descanso de tres años apartada de la docencia, aceptó un puesto en la escuela Matthew Arnold School, Staines, donde enseñó inglés e historia, fue entrenadora de carrera de vallas y escribió la obra de teatro anual de la escuela hasta que se retiró a Corfe Mullen, Dorset en 1961, donde vivió hasta su muerte el 27 de julio de 1983, a la edad de 82 años.

Aunque recordada principalmente por sus novelas de misterio, Mitchell también publicó diez libros para niños con su propio nombre, novelas históricas con el seudónimo de Stephen Hockaby y varias novelas policíacas mas con el seudónimo de Malcolm Torrie. También escribió una gran cantidad de relatos, todos ellos publicados por primera vez en el Evening Standard. Fue miembro del Detection Club junto con GK Chesterton, Agatha Christie y Dorothy L. Sayers y durante la década de 1930 se la consideró una de las “tres grandes escritoras poliíacas”, pero a menudo desafiaba y se burlaba de las convenciones del género, especialmente en sus primeros libros, como la primera novela Speedy Death (1929), donde hay un giro particularmente sorprendente en la trama, o sus parodias de Christie en The Mystery of a Butcher’s Shop (1929) y The Saltmarsh Murders (1932). Fue miembro de la Middlesex Education Society, de la British Olympic Association, de la Crime Writers’ Association, del PEN, y de la Sociedad de Autores. En 1976 recibió la Silver Dagger de la Crime Writers’ Association.

Bibliografía seleccionada: The Mystery of a Butcher’s Shop (1929), The Saltmarsh Murders (1932), Death at the Opera (1934), The Devil at Saxon Wall (1935), Come Away, Death (1937), Brazen Tongue (1940), When Last I Died (1941), The Rising of the Moon (1945) única obra de Gladys Mitchell disponible en español con el título de  Cuando sale la luna (Fábulas de Albión, 2012), Death and the Maiden (1947), The Dancing Druids (1948), Tom Brown’s Body (1949), Groaning Spinney (1950), The Echoing Strangers (1952), Merlin’s Furlong (1953), Dance to Your Daddy (1969), Nest of Vipers (1979), and The Greenstone Griffins (1983).

A Gladys Mitchell Tribute Site tiene reseñas de casi todos los libros en la sección Bibliografía.

Marta Marne en La Pared Vacía

My Book Notes: The Duke of York’s Steps, 1929 (Inspector Poole #2) by Henry Wade

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The Murder Room, 2016. Book Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 1203 KB. Print Length: 240 pages. ASIN: B01DT7MSN2. ISBN-13: 978-1-4719-1838-4. Published in 1929 by Constable in London.

hbg-title-9781471918384-10Synopsis: A wealthy banker, Sir Garth Fratten, dies suddenly from an aneurysm on the Duke of York’s Steps. His doctor is satisfied that a mild shock such as being jostled would be enough to cause Sir Garth’s death. It all seems so straightforward, and there is no inquest. But Fratten’s daughter Inez is not satisfied. She places an advertisement in the London newspapers that comes to the attention of Scotland Yard, and Inspector John Poole is assigned to make enquiries. Poole’s investigation leads him into a world of high finance where things are not as they seem; a sordid world in which rich young men make fools of themselves over chorus girls.

My Take: Sir Garth Frateen, Chairman of the well-known family bank that bears his name, is at the peak of a long and honourable financial career when he is diagnosed with an aneurysm. His doctor therefore recommends him to slow down his workload. However, ignoring the advice of his doctor, Sir Garth is considering joining the Board of Directors of a new company offered to him by Major-General Sir Hunter Lorne, a great friend from his school days. What he does not know is that another board member has threatened to resign if Sir Garth joins the Board, despite the prestige that his incorporation would bring.

One day, as Sir Garth Fratten and Leopold Hessel wander around the Duke of York’s steps, a man bumps into Sir Garth and, excusing himself, continues his way in a hurry. Fratten doesn’t fall, although he might have if Hessel hadn’t been on the other side to steady him. Sir Garth seems to recover but, shortly after, he collapses and falls to the ground. A car immediately takes him to his doctor, who can do nothing to save his life. His aneurysm had burst, Sir Garth was already dead when he arrived and his doctor signs a death certificate from natural causes. Therefore, it does not seem necessary to open an inquest.

Sir Garth’s fortune, after some bequests, will be split evenly between his daughter Inez and Inez’s half-brother Ryland, who was losing his father’s favour in view of his constant need for money to pay for his whims. The matter would have been forgotten had it not been for an advertisement in the Personal Column of The Times three days later that says:

“Duke of York’s Steps. Miss Inez Fratten will be glad to hear from the gentleman who accidentally stumbled against her father, Sir Garth Fratten, on Thursdays, 24th October, some time after 6 p.m. Write 168 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.”

The advertisement holds the attention of Sir Leward Marradine, Assistant Commissioner in charge of Scotland Yard’s CID, who recalls seeing Inez once in the company of her father. Next, he visits her in case he can be of any help and, following his visit, he asks Chief Inspector Barrod to appoint someone to look into it. An sceptical Barrod decides Detective-Inspector John Poole would be the right person for this job. In fact, he doesn’t have Poole in high regard and is delighted to send him into a nonsense investigation. Poole is of a type he doesn’t like –well-educated, “genteel” (Barrod thought), probably soft, and certainly possessed of a swelled head. A failure –or at any rate, a fiasco– would do him no harm. The investigation however will take an unexpected turn when Poole gets the authorization to exhume Sir Garth’s body.

The story is well set in the London of the 1920s and offers us a good description of its daily life. Inspector Poole is a nice chap who finds his way to overcome all the hurdles that he encounters. Probably an early example of a police procedural that entertains and  provides us a pleasant reading experience. The plot is complex and the characterization is excellent. A highly promising start by an author to whom I expect to read more in a non too distant future. No wonder Martin Edwards included The Duke of York’s Steps in The Story of Classic Crime in 100 books. In short, a very satisfying read.

The Duke of York’s Steps has been reviewed, among others by Patrick At the Scene of the Crime, Nick Fuller at The Grandest Game in the World, dfordoom at Vintage Pop Fictions, Jim Noy at The Invisible Event, and Laurie Kelley at Bedford Bookshelf.


(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Constable (UK), 1929)

About the Author: Henry Wade was the pseudonym of Major Sir Henry Lancelot Aubrey-Fletcher, CVO DSO, 6th Baronet and Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire from 1954 to 1961. He was born in Surrey, England on 10 September 1887 and was the only son and second child of Sir Lancelot Aubrey-Fletcher, 5th Baronet and Emily Harriet Wade, though his father had a son by a previous marriage who died in infancy. He was educated at Eton and then New College, Oxford. As well as academic success, Wade also had a distinguished military career, serving in both the First and Second World War with the Grenadier Guards, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and the French Croix de guerre in 1917. In 1911 he married Mary Augusta Chilton OStJ, and they had five children. He was a member of Buckinghamshire County Council and was appointed High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire in 1925. He played Minor counties cricket for Buckinghamshire from 1921 until 1928. Henry and Mary were married until 1963 when she died. In 1965, he married his second wife Nancy Cecil Reynolds. Nancy and Henry were married until his death on 30 May 1969, aged 81.

Wade was a major figure in the development of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, writing twenty stories and two story collections. He did not received the immediate credit and respect he deserved. Indeed, seven of his books were not even published in America. His first novel, The Verdict of You All, was published in 1926 by Constable, and he continued to produce a novel a year for the next thirty years (except for the World War II 2 years). Of his early books The Duke of York’s Steps merits particular attention, as do The Dying Alderman. Wade’s work was always tightly plotted, skilfully written and extremely atmospheric. His penultimate novel is perhaps his best. A Dying Fall is superbly written, with very strong and deeply developed characters. The fact that was published in 1955, nearly 30 years after his first novel serves only to enhance his reputation. The novel also, famously, did not reveal the solution until the very last line. Wade was a founding members of the Detection Club.

‘Wade … became the first major crime novelist to blend police procedure and strong plots with exploration of the relationships and, sometimes, rivalries between police officers of all ranks. Far from being a backward-looking reactionary, he developed into one of Golden Age’s most ambitions innovators. The quality of his work has been underestimated, in part because of its variety, and perhaps also because Julian Symons, whose rare lapses of critical judgement were not quite so rare when it came to the Golden Age, ranked him alongside Freeman Wills Crofts and the Coles as a “humdrum”. At his best, Wade was anything but.’ (Martin Edwards’ The Golden Age of Murder, HaperCollinsPublshers, 2015)

Suggested Inspector Poole series: The Duke of York’s Steps (1929), No Friendly Drop (1931), Constable Guard Thyself! (1934), Bury Him Darkly (1936), The High Sheriff (1937).

Other novels: The Dying Alderman (1930), The Hanging Captain (1932), Heir Presumptive (1935), A Dying Fall (1955).

The Orion Publishing Group publicity page

Henry Wade page at Golden Age of Detection Wiki

Harcourt and Henry Wade

Further reading:  Curtis Evans, The Spectrum of English Murder: The Detective Fiction of Henry Lancelot Aubrey-Fletcher and G.D.H. and Margaret Cole (Coachwhip Publications, 2015)

The Duke of York’s Steps, de Henry Wade

Sinopsis: Un rico banquero, Sir Garth Fratten, muere repentinamente de un aneurisma en la escalinata del duque de York. Su médico está convencido de que una leve conmoción, como un empujón, hubiera sido suficiente para causar la muerte de Sir Garth. Todo parece tan sencillo que no hay investigación. Pero la hija de Fratten, Inez, no está satisfecha. Publica  un anuncio en los periódicos de Londres que llama la atención de Scotland Yard, y se asigna al inspector John Poole para que realice averiguaciones. La investigación de Poole lo lleva a un mundo de altas finanzas donde las cosas no son lo que parecen; un mundo sórdido en el que los jóvenes ricos hacen el ridículo con las coristas.

Mi opinión: Sir Garth Frateen, presidente del conocido banco familiar que lleva su nombre, se encuentra en la cima de una larga y honorable carrera financiera cuando le diagnostican un aneurisma. Por tanto, su médico le recomienda que ralentice su carga de trabajo. Sin embargo, ignorando los consejos de su médico, Sir Garth está considerando unirse al Consejo de Administración de una nueva compañía que le ofreció el general de división Sir Hunter Lorne, un gran amigo de sus días escolares. Lo que no sabe es que otro consejero ha amenazado con dimitir si Sir Garth se incorpora al Consejo, a pesar del prestigio que traería su incorporación.

Un día, mientras Sir Garth Fratten y Leopold Hessel deambulan por los escalones del Duque de York, un hombre se encuentra con Sir Garth y, disculpándose, continúa su camino a toda prisa. Fratten no se cae, aunque podría haberlo hecho si Hessel no hubiera estado al otro lado para sostenerle. Sir Garth parece recuperarse pero, poco después, se derrumba y cae al suelo. Un automóvil lo lleva de inmediato a su médico, quien no puede hacer nada por salvarle la vida. Su aneurisma había estallado, Sir Garth ya estaba muerto cuando llegó y su médico firma un certificado de defunción por causas naturales. Por tanto, no parece necesario abrir una investigación.

La fortuna de Sir Garth, después de algunos legados, se dividirá en partes iguales entre su hija Inez y el medio hermano de Inez, Ryland, quien estaba perdiendo el favor de su padre en vista de su constante necesidad de dinero para pagar sus caprichos. El asunto se habría olvidado si no hubiera sido por un anuncio en la Columna Personal de The Times tres días después que dice:

“Los escalones del Duque de York. La señorita Inez Fratten estará encantada de saber del caballero que tropezó accidentalmente con su padre, Sir Garth Fratten, el jueves 24 de octubre, poco después de las 6 p.m. Escribir a 168 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.”

El anuncio llama la atención de Sir Leward Marradine, el comisario jefe a cargo del Departamento de Investigación Criminal de Scotland Yard, quien recuerda haber visto a Inez una vez en compañía de su padre. A continuación, la visita en caso de que pueda ser de alguna ayuda y, después de su visita, le pide al inspector jefe Barrod que nombre a alguien para que lo investigue. Un escéptico Barrod decide que el detective-inspector Poole sería la persona adecuada para este trabajo. De hecho, no tiene a Poole en alta estima y está encantado de enviarlo a una investigación sin sentido. Poole es de un tipo que no le gusta: bien educado, “cortés” (pensó Barrod), probablemente deelicado y poseido sin duda de ciertas ínfulas. Un fracaso, o al menos un fiasco, no le haría ningún daño. Sin embargo, la investigación tomará un giro inesperado cuando Poole obtenga la autorización para exhumar el cuerpo de Sir Garth.

La historia está bien ambientada en el Londres de la década de 1920 y nos ofrece una buena descripción de su vida cotidiana. El inspector Poole es un buen tipo que encuentra la manera de superar todos los obstáculos que encuentra. Probablemente un ejemplo temprano de un procedimiento policial que entretiene y nos brinda una grata experiencia de lectura. La trama es compleja y la caracterización excelente. Un comienzo muy prometedor de un autor al que espero leer más en un futuro no muy lejano. No es de extrañar que Martin Edwards incluyera The Duke of York’s Steps en The Story of Classic Crime in 100 books. En resumen, una lectura muy satisfactoria.

Acerca del autor: Henry Wade fue el seudónimo del mayor Sir Henry Lancelot Aubrey-Fletcher,CVO DSO, sexto Baronet y Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire de 1954 a 1961. Nació en Surrey, Inglaterra el 10 de septiembre de 1887. Fue el ùnico hijo y segundo niño de Sir Lancelot Aubrey-Fletcher, quinto baronet y Emily Harriet Wade, aunque su padre tuvo un hijo de un matrimonio anterior que murió en la infancia. Fue educado en Eton y luego en New College, Oxford. Además del éxito académico, Wade también tuvo una distinguida carrera militar, sirviendo tanto en la Primera como en la Segunda Guerra Mundial con la Guardia de Granaderos, y fue galardonado con la Orden de Servicio Distinguido y la Croix de guerre francesa en 1917. Miembro del Consejo del Condado de Buckinghamshire, fue nombrado Alto Sheriff de Buckinghamshire en 1925. Fue Lord Teniente de Buckinghamshire desde 1954 hasta 1961. Jugó al Minor counties cricket por  Buckinghamshire desde 1921 hasta 1928. En 1911 se casó con Mary Augusta Chilton OStJ, y tuvieron cinco hijos. Fue miembro del Consejo del Condado de Buckinghamshire y fue nombrado Alto Sheriff de Buckinghamshire en 1925. Jugó al cricket de los Minor counties por Buckinghamshire desde 1921 hasta 1928. Henry y Mary estuvieron casados ​​hasta 1963 cuando ella murió. En 1965, se casó con su segunda mujer, Nancy Cecil Reynolds. Nancy y Henry estuvieron casados ​​hasta su muerte el 30 de mayo de 1969, a los 81 años.

Wade fue una figura importante en el desarrollo de la Edad de Oro de la novela policiaca, escribiendo veinte novelas y dos colecciones de relatos. No recibió el crédito y el respeto inmediatos que se merecía. De hecho, siete de sus libros ni siquiera se publicaron en los Estados Unidos. Su primera novela, The Verdict of You All , fue publicada en 1926 por Constable, y continuó produciendo una novela al año durante los siguientes treinta años (a excepción de los 2 años de la Segunda Guerra Mundial). De sus primeros libros, The Duke of York’s Steps merece una atención particular, al igual que The Dying Alderman. El trabajo de Wade siempre estuvo bien elaborado, hábilmente escrito y es extremadamente atmosférico. Su penúltima novela es quizás la mejor. A Dying Fall está magníficamente escrita, con personajes muy poderosos y desarrollados en profundidad. El hecho de que se publicara en 1955, casi 30 años después de su primera novela, solo sirve para realzar su reputación. La novela también, como es sabido, no revela la solución hasta la última línea. Wade fue uno de los miembros fundadores del Detection Club.

“Wade … se convirtió en el primer novelista policiaco importante en combinar procedimientos policiales y tramas sólidas con la exploración de las relaciones y, a veces, las rivalidades entre agentes de policía de todos los rangos”. Lejos de ser un reaccionario retrógrado, se convirtió en uno de los innovadores más ambiciosos de la Edad de Oro. La calidad de su trabajo ha sido subestimada, en parte debido a su variedad, y quizás también porque Julian Symons, cuyos raros lapsos de juicio crítico no eran tan raros cuando se trataba de la Edad de Oro, lo catalogó junto a Freeman Wills Crofts y los Coles como ‘hundrum’. En su mejor momento, Wade fue todo lo contrario .” (The Golden Age of Murder de Martin Edwards, HaperCollinsPublshers, 2015)

Bibliografía recomendada del inspector Poole: The Duke of York’s Steps (1929), Sin dejar una gota (1931), Comisario, ¡ponte en guardia! (1934), Enterrarlo en la oscuridad (1936), The High Sheriff (1937).

Otras novelas: The Dying Alderman (1930), The Hanging Captain (1932), Presunto heredero (1935), A Dying Fall (1955).

My Book Notes: The Crime at Tattenham Corner, 1929 (Inspector Stoddart Book 2) by Annie Haynes

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

Dean Street Press, 2015. Book Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 898 KB. Print Length: 242 Pages. ASIN:‎ B012XGLKE8. eISBN: 978 1 910570 75 3. First published in the UK by Bodley Head in 1929.

51nIgW-JtBLDescription: The body lay face downwards in a foot of water at the bottom of the ditch. Up to the present it has not been identified. But a card was found in the pocket with the name of —

The grisly discovery was overshadowed in the public imagination by Derby Day, the most prestigious event in the English horse-racing calendar. But Peep o’ Day, the popular favourite for the Derby and owned by the murdered man, won’t run now. Under Derby rules, the death means automatic disqualification. Did someone find an ingenious if ruthless way to stop the horse from competing? Or does the solution to the demise of Sir John Burslem lie away from the racetrack? The thoughtful Inspector Stoddart starts to investigate in a crowded field of sinister suspects and puzzling diversions.

The Crime at Tattenham Corner was the second of the four Inspector Stoddart mysteries, first published in 1928. This new edition features an introduction by crime fiction historian Curtis Evans.

My Take: On Derby Day the papers carried the news of a mysterious death that very morning. Not far from Tatteham Corner, the body of a middle-aged man has been found in a ditch. He belongs to the upper classes and he’s supposed to be a stranger in the district. So far, his identity has not been determined. Detective-inspector William Stoddart along with his assistant Alfred Harbord are called in to investigate. Although the body was found face down in the stagnant water of a ditch, the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head. Supposedly, Stoddart could help identify the body as Sir John Burslem, even if he has only met him occasionally. But the card in the dead man’s pocket and his wristwatch offer little doubt about his identity. Also, Mr Ellerby, Sir John’s valet, confirmed this shortly after.

Not only was Sir John a big name in high finance, but he was also the owner of the racehorse Peep o’Day, the hot favourite to win this year’s Derby Stakes. His unexpected death, according to the Derby rules, automatically disqualifies Peep o’Day from the Derby. Consequently, Perlyon, the second favourite, will be the winner of the Derby that year. Perlyon owner, Sir Charles Stanyard, turns out to be Sir John’s great rival. Coincidentally, Sophie Burslem, before becoming Mrs John Burslem, was about to marry him, although she broke off her engagement at the last minute to marry Sir John. Sir Charles, the most obvious suspect, provides a solid alibi, and thus the investigation turns to the last hours of Sir John and his close circle of friends and relatives. Just at a time when the sudden disappearance of Mr Ellerby raises a new question mark in a case that becomes more complicated than we could have imagined.

If only for the magnificent portrait that Annie Hayes provides us of the epoch in which the story unfolds, it is well worth reading this novel, by an author unjustly forgotten for a long time. But besides, the story happens to be entertaining, it has a nice plot and is carefully elaborated. And it has a couple of interesting twists at the end that may caught the reader by surprise. I would like to repeat here that I first heard of Annie Haynes at The Passing Tramp. Shortly after Martin Edwards also wrote about her at ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’. Other bloggers I regularly follow have written  reviews on her books, but it was only recently, after reading Narrating Female Experience through Genre Hybridity in the Novels of Annie Haynes at crossexaminingcrime, that I started to become interested in her oeuvre. I only hope now not to let too much time pass without reading another of her books.

The Crime at Tattenham Corner has been reviewed, among others by Kate Jackson at Cross-Examining Crime, TomCat at Beneath the Stains of Time, and NancyO at the crime segments.

About the Author: Annie Haynes (1865 – 1929) was born in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, in September 1864. The exact date of her birth is unknown, she was christened on 7 October 1864. She was the eldest child of ironmonger, Edwin Haynes, and his wife, Jane. Her parents separated when she was young and she grew up living with her mother, brother, and grandparents on the Coleorton Hall estate where her grandfather, Montgomery Henderson, worked as a gardener. After her mother’s death in 1905, Haynes moved from Leicestershire to London and lived with her friend Ada Heather-Bigg, a journalist, philanthropist and feminist, at 14 Radnor Place, Hyde Park. Interested in crafting crime and detective novels, Annie Haynes would often visit murder scenes or attend murder trials to get first information about killers and their victims. In 1914, at the age of 50, Haynes began suffering from rheumatoid arthritis which Heather-Bigg described as leaving Haynes ‘in constant pain’. She said that eventually, ‘It was impossible for her to go out into the world for fresh material for her books, her only journeys being from her bedroom to her study.’

Haynes’s first novel, The Bungalow Mystery, was published by Agatha Christie’s publisher, The Bodley Head, in 1923. Haynes and Christie were the only two female authors to be published by the imprint. Eleven more novels followed, the last two being published posthumously. The Abbey Court Murder (Bodley Head, 1923), The House in Charlton Crescent (Bodley Head, 1926), The Crow’s Inn Tragedy  (Bodley Head, 1927), all featured the character Inspector Furnival. The Man with the Dark Beard (Bodley Head, 1928), The Crime at Tattenham Corner (Bodley Head, 1929), Who Killed Charmian Karslake? (Bodley Head, 1929), and The Crystal Beads Murder (Bodley Head, 1930) featured Inspector Stoddart. Haynes non-series novels are The Bungalow Mystery (Bodley Head, 1923), The Secret of Greylands (Bodley Head, 1924), The Blue Diamond (Bodley Head, 1925), The Witness on the Roof (Bodley Head, 1925), and The Master of the Priory (Bodley Head, 1927)

After suffering from crippling rheumatoid arthritis for fifteen years, Haynes died of heart failure, aged 64, on 30 March 1929. Her novel Who Killed Charmian Karslake? was published later the same year. Haynes died leaving The Crystal Beads Murder unfinished, it was completed by an anonymous writer and published in 1930. In 2015, Haynes’s novels were re-published by Dean Street Press. In an introduction to the 2015 edition of The Crystal Beads Murder, author Curtis Evans speculates that the anonymous writer who completed the book after Haynes’s death was Lucy Beatrice Malleson who also wrote under the pen names Anthony Gilbert and Anne Meredith. (Several sources and Wikipedia)

Dean Street Press publicity page

Annie Haynes (1865-1929) by Carol Westron

Annie Haynes articles at The Passing Tramp

The Crime At Tattenham Corner, de Annie Haynes

Descripción: El cuerpo yacía boca abajo en apenas 30 cm de agua en el fondo de la zanja. Hasta el momento no se ha identificado. Pero se encontró una tarjeta en el bolsillo con el nombre de …

El espeluznante descubrimiento fue eclipsado en la imaginación del público por el Derby de Epsom, el evento más prestigioso del calendario de carreras de caballos inglés. Pero Peep o ’Day, el favorito popular para el Derby y propiedad del hombre asesinado, no se presentará ahora. Según las reglas del Derby, la muerte significa la descalificación automática. ¿Alguien encontró una manera ingeniosa, aunque despiadada, de evitar que el caballo compita? ¿O la solución a la desaparición de Sir John Burslem se encuentra fuera del circuito de carreras? El detallista inspector Stoddart comienza a investigar en un campo abarrotado de sospechosos siniestros y derivaciones desconcertantes.

The Crime at Tattenham Corner fue el segundo de los cuatro misterios portagonizados por el Inspector Stoddart, publicado por primera vez en 1928. Esta nueva edición presenta una introducción del historiador de novela policiaca Curtis Evans.

Mi opinión: El día del Derby, los periódicos publicaron la noticia de una muerte misteriosa esa misma mañana. No lejos de Tatteham Corner, se ha encontrado el cuerpo de un hombre de mediana edad en una zanja. Pertenece a la clase alta y se supone que es un extraño en el distrito. Hasta el momento, no se ha determinado su identidad. El inspector-detective William Stoddart y su asistente Alfred Harbord son llamados para investigar. Aunque el cuerpo fue encontrado boca abajo en el agua estancada de una zanja, la causa de la muerte fue una herida de bala en la cabeza. Supuestamente, Stoddart podría ayudar a identificar el cuerpo como el de Sir John Burslem, incluso si solo lo ha visto ocasionalmente. Pero la tarjeta en el bolsillo del muerto y su reloj de pulsera ofrecen pocas dudas acerca de su identidad. Además, el Sr. Ellerby, el ayuda de cámara de Sir John, confirmó esto poco después.

Sir John no solo era un nombre importante en las altas finanzas, sino que también era el propietario del caballo de carreras Peep o’Day, el gran favorito para ganar el Derby Stakes de este año. Su muerte inesperada, de acuerdo con las reglas del Derby, automáticamente descalifica a Peep o’Day del Derby. En consecuencia, Perlyon, el segundo favorito, será el ganador del Derby de ese año. El propietario de Perlyon, Sir Charles Stanyard, resulta ser el gran rival de Sir John. Casualmente, Sophie Burslem, antes de convertirse en la señora de John Burslem, estuvo a punto de casarse con él, aunque rompió su compromiso en el último minuto para casarse con Sir John. Sir Charles, el sospechoso más obvio, proporciona una coartada sólida y, por lo tanto, la investigación se centra en las últimas horas de Sir John y su círculo cercano de amigos y parientes. Justo en un momento en el que la repentina desaparición del señor Ellerby plantea un nuevo interrogante en un caso que se vuelve más complicado de lo que podríamos haber imaginado.

Aunque sólo sea por el magnífico retrato que nos brinda Annie Hayes de la época en que se desarrolla la historia, bien vale la pena leer esta novela, de un autor injustamente olvidado durante mucho tiempo. Pero además, la historia resulta entretenida, tiene una buena trama y está cuidadosamente elaborada. Y tiene un par de giros interesantes al final que pueden sorprender al lector. Me gustaría repetir aquí lo que escuché por primera vez de Annie Haynes en The Passing Tramp. Poco después, Martin Edwards también escribió sobre ella en ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’. Otros blogueros a los que sigo con regularidad han escrito reseñas sobre sus libros, pero fue solo recientemente, después de leer Narrating Female Experience through Genre Hybridity in the Novels of Annie Haynes en crossexaminingcrime, que comencé a interesarme por su obra. Solo espero ahora no dejar pasar demasiado tiempo sin leer otro de sus libros.

Acerca de la autora: Annie Haynes (1865 – 1929) nació en Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, en septiembre de 1864. Se desconoce la fecha exacta de su nacimiento, fue bautizada el 7 de octubre de 1864. Era la hija mayor de Edwin Haynes, y su mujer, Jane. Sus padres se separaron cuando ella era joven y creció viviendo con su madre, hermano y abuelos en la finca Coleorton Hall donde su abuelo, Montgomery Henderson, trabajaba como jardinero. Después de la muerte de su madre en 1905, Haynes se mudó de Leicestershire a Londres y vivió con su amiga Ada Heather-Bigg, periodista, filántropa y feminista, en el 14 de Radnor Place, Hyde Park. Interesada en crear novelas de misterio y policiacas, Annie Haynes solía visitar escenas de asesinatos o asistir a juicios por homicidio para obtener información de primera mano sobre los asesinos y sus víctimas. En 1914, a la edad de 50 años, Haynes comenzó a sufrir de artritis reumatoide que Heather-Bigg describió como que dejaba a Haynes “con un dolor constante”. Dijo que, finalmente, “le fue imposible salir al mundo en busca de material nuevo para sus libros, ya que sus únicos viajes eran desde su habitación hasta su estudio”.

La primera novela de Haynes, The Bungalow Mystery, fue publicada por el editor de Agatha Christie, The Bodley Head, en 1923. Haynes y Christie fueron las dos únicas autoras publicadas por este sello. Siguieron once novelas más, las dos últimas se publicaron póstumamente. The Abbey Court Murder (Bodley Head, 1923), The House in Charlton Crescent (Bodley Head, 1926) [Publicada en español: Asesinato en Charlton Crescent. Morcín (Asturias): Editorial dÉpoca, 201]), The Crow’s Inn Tragedy (Bodley Head, 1927), todos protagonizados por el Inspector Furnival. The Man with the Dark Beard (Bodley Head, 1928), The Crime At Tattenham Corner (Bodley Head, 1929), Who Killed Charmian Karslake? (Bodley Head, 1929) [Publicada en español: ¿Quién mató a Charmian Kaslake?. Sherlock Editores, 2018] y The Crystal Beads Murder (Bodley Head, 1930) con el inspector Stoddart. Las novelas de Haynes que no pertenecen a ninguna serie son The Bungalow Mystery (Bodley Head, 1923), The Secret of Greylands (Bodley Head, 1924), The Blue Diamond (Bodley Head, 1925), The Witness on the Roof (Bodley Head, 1925) y The Master of the Priory (Bodley Head, 1927)

Después de padecer una paralizante artritis reumatoide durante quince años, Haynes murió de insuficiencia cardíaca, a los 64 años, el 30 de marzo de 1929. Su novela ¿Quién mató a Charmian Karslake? fue publicada más tarde el mismo año. Haynes murió dejando sin terminar The Crystal Beads Murder, fue completada por una escritora anónima y publicada en 1930. En el 2015, Dean Street Press volvió a publicar las novelas de Haynes. En una introducción a la edición de 2015 de The Crystal Beads Murder, el autor Curtis Evans especula que la escritora anónima que completó el libro después de la muerte de Haynes fue Lucy Beatrice Malleson, quien también escribió bajo los seudónimos de Anthony Gilbert y Anne Meredith. (Varias fuentes y Wikipedia)

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