My Book Notes: Cue for Murder, 1942 (Dr Basil Willing # 4) by Helen McCloy

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

Agora Books, 9 December 2021. Book Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 4379 KB. Print Length: 268 pages. ASIN: B09L4XGW5H. ISBN-13: 978-1-914904-51-6. First published in the US in 1942 by William Morrow and Company

‘Its a world of make-believe – false names and false faces! How can I tell which one of these is playing a part?’

Cue-for-Murder-eBook-Cover-300x464Description: On the New York stage, the scene is set for what appears to be the perfect murder. Within the first act of opening night, an actor is found dead during his scene, in full view of the audience and players. Even stranger, no one recognises the murdered man. But when all three suspects are trained in deception, figuring out which of them is the killer won’t be easy… Enter Dr Basil Willing. With the help of Assistant Chief Inspector Foyle, the psychiatrist-sleuth must use his understanding of the human mind to get to the bottom of this case. And it seems a canary and a housefly might be the only clues he needs to crack the case…

Cue for Murder is the fourth book in Helen McCloy’s Dr Basil Willing Mystery series.

My Take: The story takes place some months after the attack on Pearl Harbor and it begins on a plane from Washington to New York, where Dr Basil Willing reads by chance the following story in the Times under the heading “Burglar Frees Bird”:

Police are puzzled by the odd behaviour of a burglar who broke into Marcus Lazarus’ knife-grinding shop near West 44th Street shortly before dawn yesterday. Nothing was stolen, but the intruder opened the cage of Lazarus’ pet canary and set the bird free. The shop is hardly more than a shack in an alley leading to the stage door of the Royalty Theatre.

At the time, Dr Willing, who is working in the FBI’s New York office as a psychiatrist and as an investigator, thought that his knowledge of this “crime” would be limited to the few facts found in the newspapers. But next, he stops by police headquarters to greet his friend, Assistant Chief Inspector Foyle, and their conversation lead them to the canary’s story in the morning news. Foyle admits it was kind of funny when he got the report from the precinct this morning. He first  thought it might be a publicity stunt. Wanda Morley’s new show opens in the Royalty in a day or two, and the knife-grinder’s shop is right next door. But her press agent swears he doesn’t know a thing about it, and Wanda Morley’s name hasn’t been mentioned in connection with the case. However, Dr Willing, like most modern psychiatrists, believes that no human being can perform an act without a motive, conscious or unconscious.

In any case Dr Willing manages to get an invitation to attend the premiere of the play at the Royalty that same evening. The play is Fedora by Victorien Sardou, a minor work by a playwright who is perhaps best remembered today because another one of his plays, La Tosca, was turned into an opera by Puccini. Fedora was written for Sarah Bernhardt, and Wanda Morley, it is said, wants to resemble her in everything she does.

During the first act, a mortally wounded young revolutionary is taken to the house of his lover Fedora, the main character in the play. The lover is treated by a doctor and discovered by a policeman, but he dies at the end of the first act. The dying revolutionary has no lines and must remain motionless all time he is on stage. The only actors who have been close to him are Rodney Tait as the doctor, Leonard Martin as the policeman and, of course, Wanda Morley, who kisses him goodbye before dying. But when the curtain falls it is found that the young man is really dead. To everyone’s surprise, no one knows the actor (a figurant) who was playing that part. According to tradition, Sarah Bernhardt herself used to invite her lovers to play that role. The result is a murder, committed in front of the public, and with only three suspects. The only three actors that have been close to the victim during the first act. But it seems impossible to unravel the mystery of his death.

Despite some opinions in the contrary, I loved reading Cue for Murder. In my view, the plot is quite ingenious and entertaining. As far as I understand, it was a great hit when it was originally published, even though, for today standards, the story might seem to be a bit dated. In any case I enjoyed reading about the ins and outs of a Broadway theatre in the early 40s and, in this sense, the story is well documented. No doubt, McCloy was very familiar in that environment. All in all, its is extremely interesting to recover thanks to Agora Books another one of Helen McCloy’s works difficult to find. As an author, she has been one of my great discoveries this year. My gratitude also to Crime Classics Advance Readers Club for providing me a digital copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange of my honest opinion. If you like Helen McCloy as much as I do, you should not miss Cue for Murder.

Cue for Murder has been reviewed, among others, by Noah Stewart at Noah’s Archives, Robert E. Briney at Mystery File, Moira Redmond at Clothes in Books, Les Blatt at Classic Mysteries, Steve Lewis at Mystery File, Dan at The Reader is Warned, NIck Fuller at The Grandest Game in the World, Steve Barge at In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, thegreencapsule at the Green Capsule, and TomCat at Beneath the Stains of Time.

2335

(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Morrow Mystery (USA), 1942)

About the Author: Helen McCloy was born in New York city in 1904 to writer Helen Worrell McCloy and managing editor William McCloy. After discovering a love for Sherlock Holmes as young girl, McCloy began writing her own mystery novels in the 1930s. In 1933, she introduced her psychiatrist-detective Dr Basil Willing in her first novel, Dance of Death. Dr Basil Willing features in 12 of McCloy’s novels as well as several short stories; however, both are best known from McCloy’s 1955 supernatural mystery Through a Glass, Darkly — hailed as her masterpiece and likened to John Dickson Carr. McCloy went on in the 1950s and 1960s to co-author a review column a Connecticut newspaper. In 1950, she became the first female president of Mystery Writers of America and in 1953, she was honoured with an Edgar Award from the MWA for her critiques. (Fuente: Agora Books)

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.

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).

Agora Books 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

Cue for Murder, por Helen McCloy

“Es un mundo de fantasía: ¡nombres falsos y rostros falsos! ¿Cómo puedo saber cuál de ellos está desempeñando un papel? “

Descripción: En la cartelera de Nueva York, el escenario está listo para lo que parece ser el asesinato perfecto. En el primer acto de la noche del estreno, un actor es encontrado muerto durante su escena, a la vista del público y de los actores. Aún más extraño, nadie reconoce al hombre asesinado. Pero como los tres sospechosos están entrenados en el arte del disimulo, no será fácil averiguar cuál de ellos es el asesino … Entra en escena el Dr. Basil Willing. Con la ayuda del inspector jefe adjunto Foyle, el detective psiquiatra debe utilizar su conocimiento de la mente humana para llegar al fondo de este caso. Y parece que un canario y una mosca doméstica podrían ser las únicas pistas que necesita para resolver el caso …

Cue for Murder es el cuarto libro de la serie Dr Basil Willing Mystery de Helen McCloy.

Mi opinión: La historia tiene lugar unos meses después del ataque a Pearl Harbor y comienza en un avión de Washington a Nueva York, donde el Dr. Basil Willing lee por casualidad la siguiente historia en el Times bajo el título”Ladrón Libera Pájaro”:

La policía está desconcertada por el extraño comportamiento de un ladrón que irrumpió en la tienda de afilar cuchillos de Marcus Lazarus cerca de West 44th Street poco antes del amanecer de ayer. No le robaron nada, pero el intruso abrió la jaula de la mascota de Lázaro y liberó al canario. La tienda es poco más que un cuartucho en un callejón que conduce a la entrada de artistas del Royalty Theatre.

En ese momento, el Dr. Willing, que trabaja en la oficina del FBI en Nueva York como psiquiatra y como investigador, pensó que su conocimiento de este “crimen” se limitaría a los pocos hechos encontrados en los periódicos. Pero luego, se detiene en el cuartel general de la policía para saludar a su amigo, el inspector jefe adjunto Foyle, y su conversación los lleva a la historia del canario en las noticias de la mañana. Foyle admite que fue algo gracioso cuando recibió el informe de la comisaría esta mañana. Primero pensó que podría ser un truco publicitario. El nuevo espectáculo de Wanda Morley se inaugura en el Royalty en uno o dos días, y la tienda del afilador de cuchillos está justo al lado. Pero su agente de prensa jura que no sabe nada al respecto y no se ha mencionado el nombre de Wanda Morley en relación con el caso. Sin embargo, el Dr. Willing, como la mayoría de los psiquiatras modernos, cree que ningún ser humano puede realizar un acto sin un motivo, consciente o inconsciente.

En cualquier caso, el Dr. Willing consigue una invitación para asistir al estreno de la obra en el Royalty esa misma noche. La obra es Fedora de Victorien Sardou, una obra menor de un dramaturgo que quizás sea más recordado hoy porque otra de sus obras, La Tosca, fue convertida en ópera por Puccini. Fedora fue escrita para Sarah Bernhardt, y se dice que Wanda Morley quiere parecerse a ella en todo lo que hace.

Durante el primer acto, un joven revolucionario herido de muerte es llevado a la casa de su amante Fedora, el personaje principal de la obra. El amante es tratado por un médico y descubierto por un policía, pero muere al final del primer acto. El revolucionario moribundo no tiene líneas y debe permanecer inmóvil todo el tiempo que esté en escena. Los únicos actores que han estado cerca de él son Rodney Tait como el médico, Leonard Martin como el policía y, por supuesto, Wanda Morley, que se despide de él con un beso antes de morir. Pero cuando cae el telón se descubre que el joven está realmente muerto. Para sorpresa de todos, nadie conoce al actor (un figurante) que estaba interpretando ese papel. Según la tradición, la propia Sarah Bernhardt solía invitar a sus amantes a interpretar ese papel. El resultado es un asesinato, cometido frente al público, y con solo tres sospechosos. Los únicos tres actores que se han acercado a la víctima durante el primer acto. Pero parece imposible desentrañar el misterio de su muerte.

A pesar de algunas opiniones en sentido contrario, me encantó leer Cue for Murder. En mi opinión, la trama es bastante ingeniosa y entretenida. Por lo que tengo entendido, fue un gran éxito cuando se publicó originalmente, aunque, para los estándares actuales, la historia puede parecer un poco anticuada. En cualquier caso disfruté leyendo sobre los entresijos de un teatro de Broadway a principios de los 40 y, en este sentido, la historia está bien documentada. Sin duda, McCloy estaba muy familiarizada en ese entorno. En definitiva, es sumamente interesante recuperar gracias a Agora Books otra de las obras de Helen McCloy difícil de encontrar. Como autora, ha sido uno de mis grandes descubrimientos este año. Mi agradecimiento también al Crime Classics Advance Readers Club por proporcionarme una copia digital de este libro a través de NetGalley, a cambio de mi sincera opinión. Si le gusta Helen MCCloy tanto como a mí, no debe perderse Cue for Murder.

Acerca del autor: Helen McCloy (Nueva York, 1904-Woodstock, 1992), pseudónimo de Helen Clarkson, fue una escritora de misterio norteamericana conocida por su serie de novelas protagonizadas por el psiquiatra-detective Basil Willing. De madre escritora y padre editor, McCloy creció leyendo a Sherlock Holmes y en 1950 se convirtió en la primera mujer presidente de la Asociación de Escritores de Misterio de Estados Unidos, organización que le otorgó un premio Edgar por sus críticas literarias. Su debut como escritora, Dance of Death (1938), introdujo ya al doctor Willing, quien protagonizaría otros 12 misterios y algunos relatos cortos, la mayoría de tintes góticos y sobrenaturales. Un reflejo velado en el cristal (1950; Hoja de Lata, 2021) es el octavo caso de la serie y está considerado una obra maestra del género y un clásico del misterio sobrenatural estadounidense. (Fuente: Hoja de Lata)

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) [Un reflejo velado en el cristal, 2021]; 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: “Chinoiserie” (1935); “Through a Glass, Darkly” (1948); “The Singing Diamonds” (1949); “Murder Stops the Music” (1957); and “Murphy’s Law” (1979).

Tey, Josephine (1896 – 1952) [Updated on 9 December 2021]

Josephine_Tey_portraitJosephine Tey was a pseudonym used by Elizabeth MacKintosh (25 July 1896 – 13 February 1952), a Scottish author. MacKintosh was born in Inverness, the oldest of three daughters of Colin MacKintosh, a fruiterer, and Josephine (née Horne). She attended Inverness Royal Academy and then, in 1914, Anstey Physical Training College in Erdington, a suburb of Birmingham. She taught physical training at various schools in England and Scotland and during her vacations worked at a convalescent home in Inverness as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse. A youthful romance ended with her soldier friend’s death in the Somme battles. In 1923, she returned to Inverness permanently to care for her invalid mother, and stayed after her mother’s death that year to keep house for her father. While caring for her father she began her career as a writer. Her first published work was in The Westminster Gazette in 1925, under the name Gordon Daviot. She continued publishing verse and short stories in The Westminster Review, The Glasgow Herald and the Literary Review.

Her first novel, Kif: An Unvarnished History (1929), was well received at the time with good reviews, a sale to America, and a mention in The Observer’s list of Books of the Week. This work, inspired by a detachment of the 4th Cameron Highlanders, a Scottish Territorial battalion stationed at Inverness before the First World War and prominent in the city’s affairs, was an early indication of Tey’s lasting interest in military matters. Three months later, her first mystery novel, The Man in the Queue (1929), was published by Benn, Methuen. It was awarded the Dutton Mystery Prize when published in America. This is the first appearance of her detective, Inspector Alan Grant. It would be some years before she wrote another mystery.

MacKintosh’s real ambition had been to write a play which would receive a run in London’s West End. Her play Richard of Bordeaux was produced in 1932 at the Arts Theatre, under the Daviot pseudonym. Its success was such that it transferred to the New Theatre (now the Noël Coward Theatre) in 1933, for a year-long run. The production made a household name of its young leading man and director, John Gielgud (who became MacKintosh’s life-long friend). She wrote about a dozen one-act plays and another dozen full-length plays, many with biblical or historical themes, under the name of Gordon Daviot but none of these received notable success. .

MacKintosh’s best-known books were written under the name of Josephine Tey, which was the name of her Suffolk great-great grandmother. In five of the mystery novels, all of which except the first she wrote under the name of Tey, the hero is Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant. (Grant appears in a sixth, The Franchise Affair, as a minor character.) The most famous of these is The Daughter of Time (1951), in which Grant, laid up in hospital, has friends research reference books and contemporary documents so that he can puzzle out the mystery of whether King Richard III of England murdered his nephews, the Princes in the Tower. Grant comes to the firm conclusion that King Richard was totally innocent of the death of the princes. The Franchise Affair (1948) also has an historical context: although set in the 1940s, it is based on the 18th-century case of Elizabeth Canning. The Daughter of Time was the last of Tey’s books published during her lifetime. Her last work, a further crime novel, The Singing Sands (1952), was found in her papers and published posthumously.

Tey was intensely private, shunning all publicity throughout her life. During her last year, when she knew that she was mortally ill, she resolutely avoided all her friends as well. She died of liver cancer at her sister Mary’s home in London on 13 February 1952. Most of her friends, including Gielgud, were unaware that she was even ill. Her obituary in The Times appeared under her real name: “Miss E. Mackintosh Author of ‘Richard of Bordeaux'”.

In 1990, The Daughter of Time was selected by the British Crime Writers’ Association as the greatest crime novel of all time; The Franchise Affair was 11th on the same list of 100 books.

In 2015, Val McDermid argued that Tey “cracked open the door” for later writers such as Patricia Highsmith and Ruth Rendell to explore the darker side of humanity, creating a bridge between the Golden Age of Detective Fiction and contemporary crime novels, because “Tey opened up the possibility of unconventional secrets. Homosexual desire, cross-dressing, sexual perversion – they were all hinted at, glimpsed in the shadows as a door closed or a curtain twitched. Tey was never vulgar nor titillating…. Nevertheless, her world revealed a different set of psychological motivations.” In 2019, Evie Jeffrey discussed Tey’s engagement with capital punishment debates in A Shilling for Candles and To Love and Be Wise. (Source: Wikipedia)

Selected Bibliography: The Man in the Queue (APA Killer in the Crowd), 1929 as Gordon Daviot (Inspector Grant #1); A Shilling for Candles, 1936 (Inspector Grant #2); Miss Pym Disposes, 1946 (standalone); The Franchise Affair, 1948 (Inspector Grant #3); Brat Farrar (APA Come and Kill Me), 1949 (standalone); To Love and Be Wise, 1950 (Inspector Grant #4); The Daughter of Time, 1951 (Inspector Grant #5); The Singing Sands, 1952 (Inspector Grant #6).

Curtis Evans asks himself at The Passing Tramp: ‘And what are your favorite Teys?’ An he answers: ‘ I think it’s safe to sat that the Big Three are The Daughter of Time, Brat Farrar and The Franchise Affair, with Miss Pym Disposes perhaps nipping discreetly at their heels.  The other four Tey mystery novels tend to be comparatively neglected.  I soon will post a review of one of the latter four books.’

An Martin Edwards wrote at ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’: ‘The Daughter of Time is her most famous book, but I prefer the excellent Brat Farrar and The Franchise Affair.’

Besides, Martin Edwards included The Franchise Affair in his book The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books.

I’m looking forward to reading soon: The Franchise Affair, Brat Farrar, Miss Pym Disposes, and The Daughter of Time.

3163

(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Peter Davies, UK (1948)

11431109The Franchise Affair is a 1948 mystery novel by Josephine Tey about the investigation of a mother and daughter accused of kidnapping a local young woman. In 1990, the UK Crime Writers’ Association named it one of The Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time.

Marion Sharpe and her mother seem an unlikely duo to be found on the wrong side of the law. Quiet and ordinary, they have led a peaceful and unremarkable life at their country home, The Franchise. Unremarkable that is, until the police turn up with a demure young woman on their doorstep. Not only does Betty Kane accuse them of kidnap and abuse, she can back up her claim with a detailed description of the attic room in which she was kept, right down to the crack in its round window.

But there’s something about Betty Kane’s story that doesn’t quite add up. Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard is stumped. And it takes Robert Blair, local solicitor turned amateur detective, to solve the mystery that lies at the heart of The Franchise Affair

%d bloggers like this: