Thank You!

I started writing this blog on 1 April 2009, then under the name The Game is Afoot, in blogger and mainly in Spanish. Since then many things have happened that are almost impossible to summarise. However, I would like to take advantage of this anniversary to thank those who read it, either regularly or sporadically, for their support. I hope to continue writing A Crime is Afoot for many more years, and I trust that my future book notes will add something to a mere enumeration or compilation of my readings.

All best

José Ignacio

What I Read in March 2022

65008f6e49ef3b216212c897c45bf40bFor reasons I will not mention in this context, my production this month has been reduced to a few titles, some of which I read the previous month.

Jumping Jenny, 1933 (Roger Sheringham Cases #9) by Anthony Berkeley

The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, 1927 by Arthur Conan Doyle

Overture to Death, 1939 (Roderick Alleyn #8) by Ngaio Marsh

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1933) by Vincent Starrett

The 9.50 Up Express and Other Stories (s.s. collected 2020) by Freeman Wills Crofts

Hunt in the Dark, (s.s collected 2021) by Q. Patrick

My Book Notes: Hunt in the Dark, (s. s collected 2021) by Q. Patrick

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Crippen & Landru, Publishers, 2021. Book Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 1668 KB. Print Length: 329 pages. ASIN: B09F6Q47KS. ISBN (trade softcover): 978-1-939363-53-7.

41X5JlLYEYSBook Description: This is the third collection of stories of a planned five volumes from Crippen & Landru to feature the works of Richard Webb and Hugh Wheeler, who were better known under their three pseudonyms, Q. Patrick, Patrick Quentin, and Jonathan Stagge. These six stories, which includes two previously uncollected novellas, have familiar characters like Peter and Iris Duluth and Doctor Hugh Westlake as well as standalone short works. Under all three pseudonyms, they were known for their classic, completely clued mysteries. This is the first time that many of these stories have seen print, since their original publication over 50 years ago. This edition contains an introduction by mystery historian Curtis Evans.

Curtis Evans at The Passing Tramp: Hunt in the Dark and Other Deadly Pursuits, which was just published by Crippen & Landru, will be the last book I do with that entity. Here at my blog, which is entering its tenth year and where I have the last word, I thought I would publish my Hunt introduction in its original form, before I was told to cut and rework it by the new publisher of C&L, who wanted to shorten the length of the book.
I was rather displeased and for this and additional reasons, which I won’t go into here, I decided to end my affiliation with the publisher today. So here please enjoy my last Crippen & Landru introduction, slightly modified, but including reference to the two deleted stories.—TPT

Hunt in the Dark and Other Fatal Pursuits, collects six of Q. Patrick’s works in shorter forms: two novellas, two novelettes and two short stories.  Included are the presumably final recovered tales of the criminous adventures of Rickie Webb’s and Hugh Wheeler’s series characters Peter and Iris Duluth (‘Hunt in the Dark’) and Dr. Hugh Westlake (‘The Frightened Landlady’), as well as four other tales of deathly doings: the ingenious shorts ‘Killed by Time’ and ‘The Woman Who Waited’ and the noirish novelettes ‘The Hated Woman’ and ‘This Way Out’.  In these tales readers will find dark fantasies of murder, full of flawed men and fatal women, as they walk the wilder, pulpier side of Rickie Webb’s and Hugh Wheeler’s rich legacy of short crime fiction.  Additionally, there are two final murder stories by Rickie Webb which, though they are not included in Hunt in the Dark, offer a queer but compelling coda to a talented man’s own complicated journey.  Read the full introduction at Murder No Frolic: The Pulp Fiction of Rickie Webb and Hugh Wheeler.

Abbreviations: ss (short story): typically 4–20 pages (or 1,000 to 7,999 words) nv (novelette): typically 21–50 pages (or 8,000 to 19,999 words) na (novella/short novel): typically 51–100 pages (or 20,000 to 39,999 words).

Book contents: 

‘The Frightened Landlady’ (na with Hugh Westlake) Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine [v151 #2, December 1935]. Dr Westlake receives the visit of Mrs. Eva Bellman, a respectable landlady, who believes to be suffering from some kind of eye disease. She is worried since she imagines some impossible occurrences that take place around her, in her house. Dr Westlake assures her she does not have any physical problem, but he is left very intrigued and, some days later, he decides to visit her at her building where he finds out things are more stranger than he could have ever imagined.

‘Killed by Time’ (ss) Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine [v150 #6, October 1935]. Inspector Groves has been called to investigate the murder, at the home of esteemed neurosurgeon Dr Cobden, of his son-in-law, Julius van Holdt. The body was found dead on the couch in Dr Cobden’s office. It seemed as if someone had persistently and accurately stabbed him in the eye with a fine, sharp weapon.

‘The Hated Woman’ (nv) Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine [v151 #4, February 1936]. Lila Trenton, as it soon becomes clear, is much hated, and rightfully so, for being a selfish and spiteful person concerned only with preserving her own physical charms, that are deteriorating quickly, to be able to continue to pursue successfully handsome young men, despite her many years of being married. When she is discovered dead in the kitchen of her apartment at the Hotel Vandolan, there is no shortage of suspects.

‘Hunt in the Dark’ (na with Peter and Iris Duluth) Short Stories [Vol. CLXXXI No. 1, Whole No. 883, October 10th, 1942]. On this occasion, Peter and Iris are confronted with a deadly terrorist plot against the United States, recalling the “Black Tom” explosion of 1916, an act of German sabotage at a major weapons centre on Black Tom, an artificial islands  adjacent to Liberty Island in New York Harbour.

‘The Woman Who Waited’ (ss) The Shadow [v48 #5, January 1945] (Street & Smith Publications, Inc.). Inspector Macrae is tasked with determining the identity of the mysterious woman in black who shot and killed Ellery Trimble with his own gun in his parked car outside his Twin-Town Department Store. Left bizarrely sprawled across the dead man’s corpse are a dozen “pair of silk –real silk– stockings,” resembling “grotesque elongated caterpillars.

‘This Way Out’ (nv) Mystery Book Magazine [v5 #2 (No. 18), March 1947]. Steve Glenn, a disillusioned World War II veteran, punches playboy Tony Dort early in the story for persuading his ex-wife to divorce him. Later, Steve decides to check on Tony and discovers that in the meantime someone has shot Tony-dead. (Publicado en castellano como parte de El Trío Fúnebre (Editorial Aguilar) con el título El caso de la polvera).

My Take: I presume that Curtis Evans’ introduction at his blog The Passing Tramp says it all, and there’s little for me to add. I look forward to read this year more books by Q. Patrick, Patrick Quentin, and Jonathan Stagge. Stay tuned. FWIW, I downloaded this e-book with my monthly subscription to Kindle Unlimited.

Hunt in the Dark has been reviewed by Curtis Evans at The Passing Tramp (Hunt in the Dark and the Puzzles of Peter and Iris Duluth; Murder No Frolic: The Pulp Fiction of Rickie Webb and Hugh Wheeler)


About the Author: Patrick Quentin, Q. Patrick and Jonathan Stagge were pen names under which Hugh Callingham Wheeler (19 March 1912 – 26 July 1987), Richard Wilson Webb (August 1901 – December 1966), Martha Mott Kelley (30 April 1906 – 2005) and Mary Louise White Aswell (3 June 1902 – 24 December 1984) wrote detective fiction. In some foreign countries their books have been published under the variant Quentin Patrick. Most of the stories were written by Webb and Wheeler in collaboration, or by Wheeler alone. Their most famous creation is the amateur sleuth Peter Duluth. In 1963, the story collection The Ordeal of Mrs. Snow was given a Special Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America.

The early Q. Patrick detective stories generally follow the Golden Age “whodunit” conventions, with elaborate puzzle mysteries reminiscent of Agatha Christie or John Dickson Carr. From the time when Wheeler joined the writing, the stories become more psychologically acute, with increasingly realistic, fleshed-out characters. In the 1940s, the stories start to move away from the traditional detective pattern: Puzzle for Fiends is a Hitchcockian thriller, Puzzle for Pilgrims a film noir in written form, and Run to Death a pulpy spy novel.

The majority of the Webb-Wheeler collaborations feature one of their recurring characters: Peter Duluth, a Broadway director, WWII veteran and recovering alcoholic who, with his wife Iris, always seems to stumble across murders; Inspector Timothy Trant of the New York Police, a Princeton-educated dandy whose remorseless investigations often seem to be aimed at some innocent person before he reveals his real target; and the country doctor, Dr. Hugh Cavendish Westlake with his daughter Dawn. When Webb bowed out on the writing, these characters disappeared or receded into the background.

The late Patrick Quentin novels are increasingly dark and brooding. Deceit and betrayal, particularly adultery, already a frequent theme, becomes even more central. Although at the end of the story the murder is solved, the impact of the crime, and the corruption uncovered in the investigation, remain.

Basic bibliography:

Q. Patrick (12 novels): Cottage Sinister (1931) (Richard Wilson Webb and Martha Mott Kelley); Murder at the Women’s City Club (1932) (Webb and Kelley); Murder at Cambridge (1933) (Webb); S. S. Murder (1933) (Webb and Mary Louise White, aka Mary Louise Aswell); The Grindle Nightmare (1935) (Webb); Death Goes to School (1936) (Webb); Death for Dear Clara (1937) (Webb and Hugh Callingham Wheeler); The File on Fenton and Farr (1937) (Crimefile) (Webb and Wheeler); The File on Claudia Cragge (1938) (Crimefile) (Webb and Wheeler); Death and the Maiden (1939) (Webb and Wheeler); Return to the Scene (1941) (Webb and Wheeler); and Danger Next Door (1951) (Webb).

Jonathan Stagge (9 novels): The Dogs Do Bark (1936) (Webb and Wheeler); Murder or Mercy? (1937) (Webb and Wheeler); The Stars Spell Death (1939) (Webb and Wheeler); Turn of the Table (1940) (Webb and Wheeler); The Yellow Taxi (1942) (Webb and Wheeler); The Scarlet Circle (1943) (Webb and Wheeler); Death and the Dear Girls (1945) (Webb and Wheeler); Death’s Old Sweet Song (1946) (Webb and Wheeler); and The Three Fears (1949) (Wheeler).

Patrick Quentin (16 novels): A Puzzle for Fools (1936) (Webb and Wheeler); Puzzle for Players (1938) (Webb and Wheeler); Puzzle for Puppets (1944) (Webb and Wheeler); Puzzle for Wantons (1945) (Webb and Wheeler); Puzzle for Fiends (1946) (Webb and Wheeler); Puzzle for Pilgrims (1947) (Webb and Wheeler); Run to Death (1948) (Webb and Wheeler); The Follower (1950) (Wheeler alone?); Black Widow (1952) (Wheeler); My Son, the Murderer (1954) (Wheeler); The Man with Two Wives (1955) (Wheeler); The Man in the Net (1956) (Wheeler); Suspicious Circumstances (1957) (Wheeler); Shadow of Guilt (1959) (Wheeler); The Green-Eyed Monster (1960) (Wheeler); and Family Skeletons (1965) (Wheeler).

In terms of authorship these books fall into three periods: The 1931-1935 period, when “Q. Patrick” published five mysteries, all written by Richard “Rickie” Webb, either collaboratively or solo. The 1936-1948 period, we see Hugh [Wheeler] become the dominant writing partner, particularly by the late 1930s and early 1940s. Over 1948-52 Hugh himself entirely wrote the last Jonathan Stagge, The Three Fears, as well as the Patrick Quentin novel Black Widow, a novel with criminous elements under his own name, The Crippled Muse, and possibly the Patrick Quentin novel The Follower.  (Source: The Passing Tramp)

Short Story Collections by Webb and Wheeler: The Puzzles of Peter Duluth (Crippen & Landru Publishers, 2016), The Cases of Lieutenant Trant (Crippen & Landru Publishers, 2020), and Hunt in the Dark and Other Fatal Pursuits (Crippen & Landru Publishers, 2021).

Crippen and Landru publicity page

The Return of Patrick Quentin! Crippen & Landru’s The Puzzles of Peter Duluth (2016)

The Cases of Lieutenant Timothy Trant (2019), by Q. Patrick (Richard Webb and Hugh Wheeler)

Completing the Circle: The Evolution of Jonathan Stagge’s The Scarlet Circle from Pulp Magazine to Hardcover Novel

Read more about Patrick Quentin, Q. Patrick and Jonathan Stagge at The Passing Tramp, Mystery File, and Mike Grost.

Hunt in the Dark, de Q. Patrick

Descripción del libro: Esta es la tercera selección de relatos de cinco volúmenes previstos por Crippen & Landru para presentar las obras de Richard Webb y Hugh Wheeler, más conocidos bajo sus tres seudónimos, Q. Patrick, Patrick Quentin y Jonathan Stagge. Estos seis relatos, que incluyen dos novelas cortas no recopiladas anteriormente, tienen personajes familiares como Peter y Iris Duluth y el doctor Hugh Westlake, así como trabajos breves independientes. Bajo los tres seudónimos, fueron conocidos por sus misterios clásicos llenos de indicios. Esta es la primera vez que muchas de estas historias se ven impresas, desde su publicación original hace más de 50 años. Esta edición contiene una introducción del historiador de novelas de misterio Curtis Evans.

Curtis Evans en The Passing Tramp: Hunt in the Dark and Other Deadly Pursuits, que acaba de ser publicado por Crippen & Landru, será el último libro que haga con esa institución. Aquí en mi blog, que está entrando en su décimo año y donde tengo la última palabra, pensé en publicar mi introducción de Hunt en su forma original, antes de que el nuevo editor de C&L me dijera que la cortara y la volviera a trabajar, que querían acortar la extensión del libro.
Estaba bastante disgustado y por esta y otras razones, que no voy a tratar aquí, y decidí poner fin a mi vinculación con la editorial hoy. Así que aquí disfruten de mi última introducción de Crippen & Landru, ligeramente modificada, pero que incluye una referencia a los dos relatos eliminados.—TPT

Hunt in the Dark and Other Fatal Pursuits, recopila seis de las obras de Q. Patrick en su modalidad más corta: dos novelas cortas, dos relatos breves y dos cuentos. Se incluyen las presumiblemente últimas novelas cortas recuperados de las aventuras de los personajes de serie de Rickie Webb y Hugh Wheeler, Peter e Iris Duluth (‘Hunt in the Dark’) y el Dr. Hugh Westlake (‘The Frightened Landlady’), así como otros cuatro cuentos. de relatos policiacos: los ingeniosos cuentos ‘Killed by Time’ y ‘The Woman Who Waited’ y los breves relatos negros ‘The Hated Woman’ y ‘This Way Out’. En estos cuentos, los lectores encontrarán oscuras fantasías de asesinatos, pobladas de hombres imperfectos y mujeres fatales, mientras caminan por el lado más salvaje y oscuro del rico legado del relato corto policiaco de Rickie Webb y Hugh Wheeler. Además, hay dos historias criminales finales de Rickie Webb que, aunque no están incluidas en Hunt in the Dark, ofrecen un extraño pero convincente colofón al complicado trayecto de un hombre de talento. Lea la introducción completa en Murder No Frolic: The Pulp Fiction of Rickie Webb and Hugh Wheeler. (mi traducción libre)

Abreviaturas: ss (cuento): normalmente de 4 a 20 páginas (o de 1000 a 7999 palabras) nv (relato breve): normalmente de 21 a 50 páginas (o de 8000 a 19 999 palabras) na (novela corta): normalmente de 51 a 100 páginas (o 20.000 a 39.999 palabras).

Contenido del libro:

‘The Frightened Landlady’ (na con Hugh Westlake) Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine [v151 #2, diciembre de 1935]. El Dr. Westlake recibe la visita de la señora Eva Bellman, una respetable casera, que cree padecer algún tipo de enfermedad ocular. Está preocupada porque imagina unos hechos imposibles que suceden a su alrededor, en su casa. El Dr. Westlake le asegura que no tiene ningún problema físico, pero él queda muy intrigado y, unos días después, decide visitarla en su edificio donde descubre que las cosas son más extrañas de lo que jamás hubiera imaginado.

‘Killed by Time’ (ss) Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine [v150 #6, octubre de 1935]. El inspector Groves ha sido llamado para investigar el asesinato, en la casa del estimado neurocirujano Dr. Cobden, de su yerno, Julius van Holdt. El cuerpo fue encontrado muerto en el sofá de la oficina del Dr. Cobden. Parecía como si alguien lo hubiera apuñalado de manera persistente y precisa en el ojo con un arma fina y afilada.

‘The Hated Woman’ (nv) Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine [v151 #4, febrero de 1936]. Lila Trenton, como pronto queda claro, es muy odiada, y con razón, por ser una persona egoísta y rencorosa preocupada solo por preservar sus propios encantos físicos, que se están deteriorando rápidamente, para poder seguir persiguiendo con éxito a jóvenes guapos. a pesar de sus muchos años de estar casada. Cuando la descubren muerta en la cocina de su apartamento en el Hotel Vandolan, no faltan los sospechosos.

‘Hunt in the Dark’ (na con Peter e Iris Duluth) Short Stories [Vol. CLXXXI No. 1, Entero No. 883, 10 de octubre de 1942]. En esta ocasión, Peter e Iris se enfrentan a un complot terrorista mortal contra los Estados Unidos, recordando la explosión de “Black Tom” de 1916, un acto de sabotaje alemán en un importante centro de armas en Black Tom, una isla artificial adyacente a Liberty Island. en el puerto de Nueva York.

‘The Woman Who Waited’ (ss) The Shadow [v48 #5, enero de 1945] (Street & Smith Publications, Inc.). El inspector Macrae tiene la tarea de determinar la identidad de la misteriosa mujer de negro que disparó y mató a Ellery Trimble con su propia arma en su automóvil estacionado frente a los grandes almacenes Twin-Town. A la izquierda, extrañamente extendidos sobre el cadáver del hombre fallecido, hay una docena de “un par de medias de seda, de seda real”, que se asemejan a “grotescas orugas alargadas”.

‘This Way Out’ (nv) Mystery Book Magazine [v5 #2 (No. 18), marzo de 1947]. Steve Glenn, un veterano desilusionado de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, golpea al playboy Tony Dort al principio de la historia por persuadir a su ex mujer para que se divorcie de él. Más tarde, Steve decide ver cómo está Tony y descubre que, mientras tanto, alguien ha matado a tiros a Tony. (Publicado en castellano como parte de El Trío Fúnebre (Editorial Aguilar) con el título El caso de la polvera).

Mi opinión: Supongo que la introducción de Curtis Evans en su blog The Passing Tramp lo dice todo, y tengo poco que agregar. Espero leer este año más libros de Q. Patrick, Patrick Quentin y Jonathan Stagge. Manténganse al tanto. Por si sirve de algo, descargué este libro electrónico con mi suscripción mensual a Kindle Unlimited.

Acerca del autor: Patrick Quentin, Q. Patrick y Jonathan Stagge eran seudónimos bajo los que Hugh Callingham Wheeler (19 de marzo de 1912 – 26 de julio de 1987), Richard Wilson Webb (agosto de 1901 – diciembre de 1966), Martha Mott Kelly (30 de abril de 1906– 2005) y Mary Louise White Aswell (3 de junio de 1902 – 24 de diciembre de 1984) escribieron novelas policíacas. En algunos países, sus libros se han publicado bajo la variante Quentin Patrick. La mayoría de las historias fueron escritas por Webb y Wheeler en colaboración, o por Wheeler solo. Su personaje más famoso es el detective aficionado Peter Duluth. En 1963, la colección de relatos The Ordeal of Mrs. Snow recibió el Special Edgar Award otorgado por los Mystery Writers of America.

Las primeras historias de detectives de Q. Patrick generalmente siguen las convenciones del “whodunit” de la Edad de Oro, con elaborados enigmas de misterio que recuerdan a Agatha Christie o a John Dickson Carr. Desde el momento en que Wheeler se incorporó a la redacción, las historias se vuelven más agudas psicológicamente, con personajes cada vez más realistas y desarrollados. En la década de 1940, las historias comienzan a alejarse del modelo tradicional policiaco: Puzzle for Fiends es un thriller hitchcockiano, Puzzle for Pilgrims un filme noir en forma de texto  y Run to Death una novela barata de espías.

La mayoría de las colaboraciones de Webb-Wheeler cuentan con uno de sus personajes recurrentes: Peter Duluth, un director de Broadway, veterano de la Segunda Guerra Mundial y alcohólico en recuperación que, con su esposa Iris, siempre parece toparse con asesinatos; el inspector Timothy Trant de la policía de Nueva York, un dandy educado en Princeton cuyas implacables investigaciones a menudo parecen estar dirigidas a una persona inocente antes de revelar cual es su verdadero objetivo; y el médico rural, Dr. Hugh Cavendish Westlake y su hija Dawn. Cuando Webb abandonó la redacción, estos personajes desaparecieron o pasaron a un segundo plano.

Las últimas novelas de Patrick Quentin son cada vez más oscuras e inquietantes. Engaño y traición, el adulterio en particular, un tema ya frecuente, adquiere mayor relevancia. Aunque al final de la historia se resuelve el asesinato, el impacto del crimen y la corrupción descubierta en la investigación, permanecen.

Bibliografía básica:

Q. Patrick (12 novelas): Cottage Sinister (1931) (Richard Wilson Webb y Martha Mott Kelley); Murder at the Women’s City Club (1932) (Webb y Kelley); Murder at Cambridge (1933) (Webb); Trasatlántico asesinato (1933) (Webb y Mary Louise White, también conocida como Mary Louise Aswell); The Grindle Nightmare (1935) (Webb); La muerte va a la escuela (1936) (Webb); Muerte para la querida Clara (1937) (Webb y Hugh Callingham Wheeler); The File on Fenton and Farr (1937) (Crimefile) (Webb y Wheeler); The File on Claudia Cragge (1938) (Crimefile) (Webb y Wheeler); La muerte y la doncella (1939) (Webb y Wheeler); Vuelta a la escena (1941) (Webb y Wheeler); y Peligro en la casa vecina (1951) (Webb).

Jonathan Stagge (9 novelas): The Dogs Do Bark (1936) (Webb and Wheeler); Crimen por receta (1937) (Webb and Wheeler); The Stars Spell Death (1939) (Webb and Wheeler); Turn of the Table (1940) (Webb and Wheeler); The Yellow Taxi (1942) (Webb and Wheeler); El Círculo Escarlata (1943) (Webb and Wheeler); Muerte mis queridas hijas (1945) (Webb and Wheeler); Verdes crecen los juncos (1946) (Webb and Wheeler); y The Three Fears (1949) (Wheeler).

Patrick Quentin (16 novelas): Enigma para locos / Enigma para tontos (1936) (Webb y Wheeler); Enigma para actores (1938) (Webb y Wheeler); Enigma para marionetas / Enigma para fantoches (1944) (Webb y Wheeler); Enigma para divorciadas (1945) (Webb y Wheeler); Enigma para diablos / Enigma para demonios (1946) (Webb y Wheeler); Enigma para peregrinos (1947) (Webb y Wheeler); Corriendo hacia la muerte (1948) (Webb y Wheeler); El Buscador(1950) (¿Wheeler solo?); La viuda negra (1952) (Wheeler); Mi hijo, el asesino (1954) (Wheeler); El bígamo (1955) (Wheeler); El hombre en la red (1956) (Wheeler); Circunstancias sospechosas (1957) (Wheeler); La sombra de la culpa (1959) (Wheeler); El monstruo de ojos verdes (1960) (Wheeler); y El esqueleto de la familia (1965) (Wheeler).

En cuanto a su autoría estos libros se dividen en tres períodos: El período 1931-1935, cuando “Q. Patrick” publicó cinco misterios, todos escritos por Richard “Rickie” Webb, ya sea en colaboración o en solitario. En el período 1936-1948, vemos a Hugh [Wheeler] convertirse en el compañero predominante de redacción, particularmente a finales de la década de 1930 y principios de 1940. Entre 1948 y 1952, el propio Hugh escribió en su totalidad el último Jonathan Stagge, The Three Fears, así como la novela de Patrick Quentin Black Widow, una novela con elementos criminosos bajo su propio nombre, The Crippled Muse, y posiblemente la novela de Patrick Quentin The Follower. (Fuente: The Passing Tramp)

Colecciones de relatos cortos de Webb y Wheeler: The Puzzles of Peter Duluth (Crippen & Landru Publishers, 2016), The Cases of Lieutenant Trant (Crippen & Landru Publishers, 2020) y Hunt in the Dark and Other Fatal Pursuits (Crippen & Landru Publishers, 2020) , 2021).

Las fascinantes vidas de Patrick Quentin en La memoria del bolsillo

Roger Scarlett

Roger Scarlett was the pen name of the Americans Evelyn Page (1902 – 1976) and Dorothy Blair (1903 – 1975).
Nothing is known about Blair, but Page seems to have written her own novel (The Chestnut Tree) and even made it to associate professor at several faculties at Connecticut College. Page & Blair’s debut work as Roger Scarlett was The Beacon Hill Murders (1930), followed by The Back Bay Murders (1930), Cat’s Paw (1931), Murder Among the Angells (1932) and finally In the First Degree (1933).
So in only a couple of years, this duo wrote five books. But they stopped for some reason after that and the name Roger Scarlett seems to be totally forgotten nowadays. (Source: Goodreads)

I came across Roger Scarlett’s name today  thanks to a post by Pietro De Palma at Death Can Read. And I look forward to read Cat’s Paw expected to go on sale next 12 April 2022.

41IN92efWfL._SY346_When a wealthy bachelor is murdered in his baroque Boston mansion, a bizarre clue holds the key to whodunnit

Martin Greenough’s walled-off mansion is the last remaining holdout in the Boston parkland known as the Fenway—and the fact that it eluded condemnation by the city is a testament to the elderly bachelor’s great wealth. Childless and nearing the end of his life, he surrounds himself with only his cat, his servants, and a friend, Mrs. Warden—to say nothing of the circle of extended family members whose lives he both subsidizes and rules from afar, the nieces and nephews who all seem to be more fond of Uncle Mart’s money than they are of his character.

On the eve of his birthday, Greenough requests the presence of his heirs at his home, insisting that he has something important to discuss. Before that discussion can take place, though, the man is murdered in his study. In one way or another nearly everyone there would benefit by his death, and none gathered seem terribly upset by it, so finding the culprit is no easy task for Inspector Kane of the Boston PD. But as he untangles the threads and unburies dark family secrets, the discovery of a bizarre clue might hold the key to solving the crime.

A classical “closed circle” mystery featuring a colorful cast of characters, Cat’s Paw exemplifies the puzzling, house-bound tales for which Roger Scarlett is remembered today. It is sure to delight any fan of pure, Golden Age detective stories—especially those with a love of architecturally-focused plots. (Source: Amazon / American Mystery Classics)

Cat’s Paw has been reviewed, among others, by Curtis Evans at The Passing Tramp, TomCat at Beneath the Stains of Time, Jim Noy at The Invisible Event

The Murder Mansions of Mr. Scarlett: The Classic Golden Age Detective Novels of Roger Scarlett (Dorothy Blair and Evelyn Page) by Curtis Evans at The Passing Tramp

My Book Notes: The 9.50 Up Express and Other Stories (s.s. collected 2020) by Freeman Wills Crofts

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Crippen & Landru Publishers, 2021. Book Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 983 KB. Print Length: 252 pages. ASIN: B0944LVBNF. eISBN: N/A. Edited by Tony Medawar, this new collection also includes an introduction by Tony Medawar, 2020, and a comprehensive bibliography.

41kMIreoGUL.SX316.SY480._SL500_Description: One Hundred Years in the Making 2020 marks one hundred years since the publication of The Cask by Freeman Wills Crofts (1879 – 1957), Ireland’s greatest writers of crime fiction. Lauded by Agatha Christie as the Master of Alibis and praised by the contemporary press for his carefully constructed detective mysteries, Crofts is best remembered for Inspector Joseph French of Scotland Yard. In this collection, we present the previously uncollected cases of ‘Soapy Joe’ French: short stories where murderers are tripped up by a minor oversight, a thrilling radio mystery and a locked room stage play as well as a special bonus, French’s most unusual investigation … But this volume also includes non-series short stories and the rarely seen two cases of Crofts’ boy sleuth Robin Brand. Crippen & Landru proudly present a centenary celebration of one of the giants of the Golden Age of crime and detective fiction.

My Take: The 9.50 Up Express and Other Stories is a collection of previously uncollected short stories. It includes also the scripts of a radio play and a stage play. The collection is divided into three parts. The first part, devoted to Inspector French, begins with a fascinating insight into the character, “Meet Inspector French” an essay that was first read on 19 November 1934 on the BBC Empire Service (Meet the Detective) by the author himself, and that was published later in Meet the Detective, George Allen & Unwin, 1935. It is followed by eight short stories featuring Inspector French: “The Vertical Lane” (1935), “The Hunt Ball Murder” (1937), “The Match” (1939), “Fingerprints” (1952), “The Faulty Stroke” (1952), “Teamwork Felonious” (1953), “Dark Waters” (1953), and “The Target” (1953), to end with a radio play (“The 9.50 Up Express”, 1942) and a stage play (“During the Night”, 1949), also featuring Inspector French. The second part is devoted to Robin Brand, Freeman Wills Crofts’ juvenile detective who appeared in one novel, Young Robin Brand Detective, published in January 1947 by the University of London Press, and two short stories: “Perilous Journey” (1949), and “Danger in Shroude Valley” (1950), both short stories are republished here for this occasion. The third and final part, “Other Stories”, includes two non-series crime stories: “James Alcorn’s Oversight” (1945) and “Murder by Deputy” (1945). The volume is completed with three appendices: “Why I Write Detective Stories” (1935) and “Who Killed Cock Robin?”  (1938), both written by Crofts, together with a detailed bibliography.

All in all an entertaining light read.

The 9.50 Up Express and Other Stories has been reviewed, among others, by Benjamin Boulden at Mystery Scene, and Jim Noy at The Invisible Event.

About the Author: Freeman Wills Crofts, FRSA –Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, (1879 – 1957) was an Anglo-Irish mystery author during the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. Crofts was born in Dublin, Ireland. His father, also named Freeman Wills Crofts, was a surgeon-lieutenant in the Army Medical Service, but he died of fever in Honduras before the young Freeman Wills Crofts was born. His mother, née Celia Frances Wise, remarried the Venerable Jonathan Harding, Vicar of Gilford, County Down, and Archdeacon of Dromore, and Crofts was brought up in the Gilford vicarage. He attended Methodist College and Campbell College in Belfast. In 1912 he married Mary Bellas Canning, daughter of the manager of a local bank in Coleraine. In 1896, at the age of seventeen, Crofts was apprenticed to his maternal uncle, Berkeley Deane Wise, who was chief engineer of the Belfast and Northern Counties Railway. In 1899 Crofts was appointed Junior Assistant on the construction of the Londonderry and Strabane Extension of the Donegal Railway. In 1900 he became District Engineer at Coleraine for the L.M.S. Northern Counties Committee at a salary of £100 per year. In 1922 Crofts was promoted to Chief Assistant Engineer of the railway, based in Belfast. He lived at ‘Grianon’ in Jordanstown, a quiet village some 6 miles north of Belfast, where it was convenient for Crofts to travel by train each day to the railway’s offices at York Road. Croft continued his engineering career until 1929. In his last task as an engineer, he was commissioned by the Government of Northern Ireland to chair an inquiry into the Bann and Lough Neagh Drainage Scheme.

In 1919, during an absence from work due to a long illness, Crofts wrote his first novel, The Cask (1920), which established him as a new master of detective fiction. Crofts continued to write steadily, producing a book almost every year for thirty years, in addition to a number of short stories and plays. He is best remembered for his favourite detective, Inspector Joseph French, who was introduced in his fifth book, Inspector French’s Greatest Case (1924). Inspector French appeared in another 29 novels. The success of his novels enabled him to give up his job and become a full-time writer. He and his wife moved from Northern Ireland to Blackheath, Surrey. In the early fifties, Crofts became seriously ill but continued to work on what turned out to be his final novel.

Crofts was a member, with Dorothy L. Sayers and Agatha Christie, of the Detection Club. In 1939 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Crofts was esteemed, not only by his regular readers, but also by his fellow writers of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. Agatha Christie included parodies of Inspector French alongside Sherlock Holmes and her own Hercule Poirot in Partners in Crime (1929). Raymond Chandler described him as “the soundest builder of them all when he doesn’t get too fancy” (in The Simple Art of Murder). His attention to detail and his concentration on the mechanics of detection makes him the forerunner of the “police procedural” school of crime fiction. However, he also gave rise to a suggestion of a certain lack of flair, and Julian Symons described him as of “the humdrum school”. This may explain why his name has not remained as familiar as other more colourful and imaginative Golden Age writers, although he had 15 books included in the Penguin Books “green” series of the best detective novels and 36 of his books were in print in paperback in 2000. (Several sources and Wikipedia).

Crofts is one of three writers explored in depth in Curtis Evans’ book Masters of the “Humdrum” Mystery (2012).

Inspector French series: Inspector French’s Greatest Case (1924); Inspector French and the Cheyne Mystery (1926); Inspector French and the Starvel Hollow Tragedy (1927); The Sea Mystery (1928); The Box Office Murders (1929); Sir John Magill’s Last Journey (1930); Mystery in the Channel (1931); Sudden Death (1932); Death on the Way (1932); The Hog’s Back Mystery (1933); The 12:30 from Croydon (1934); Mystery on Southampton Water (1934); Crime at Guildford (1935); The Loss of the ‘Jane Vosper’ (1936); Man Overboard! (1936); Found Floating (1937); The End of Andrew Harrison (1938); Antidote to Venom (1938); Fatal Venture (1939); Golden Ashes (1940); James Tarrant, Adventurer (1941); A Losing Game (1941); Fear Comes to Chalfont (1942); The Affair at Little Wokeham (1943); Enemy Unseen (1945); Death of a Train (1946); Silence for the Murderer (1949); Dark Journey / French Strikes Oil (1951); Many a Slip (1955); and Anything to Declare? (1957).

Non-series crime novels: The Cask (1920); The Ponson Case (1921); The Pit-Prop Syndicate (1922); and The Groote Park Murder (1923)

About the Editor: Tony Medawar is an authority on crime and detective fiction with a penchant for tracking down lost, forgotten and unknown work by the masters of the genre. He has edited over twenty books including  collections of rare stories by writers as diverse as Agatha Christie (While the Light Lasts), Anthony Berkeley (The Avenging Chance), Christianna Brand (The Spotted Cat), Ruth Rendell (A Spot of Folly), and Freeman Wills Crofts (The 9.50 Up Express). Other books include Murder She Said: The Quotable Miss Marple, and John Dickson Carr (The Island of Coffins and Other Mysteries from Cabin B13). He also edits the annual Bodies from the Library anthologies for Harper Collins, the fifth volume, scheduled to come to light next June 9, unearths more unpublished and uncollected stories from the Golden Age of suspense, including John Bude, John Dickson Carr, Dorothy L. Sayers and Julian Symons.

Crippen & Landru publicity page

Freeman Wills Crofts at A Guide to Classic Mystery and Detection 

Freeman Wills Crofts at Golden Age of Detection Wiki

The 9.50 Up Express and Other Stories, de Freeman Wills Crofts

Descripción: El 2020 marca los cien años de la publicación de The Cask de Freeman Wills Crofts (1879 – 1957), el más grande de los escritores policíacos irlandeses. Alabado por Agatha Christie como el maestro de las coartadas y elogiado por la prensa contemporánea por sus misterios policiacos cuidadosamente construidos, Crofts es principalmente recordado por su personaje el inspector Joseph French de Scotland Yard. En esta colección, presentamos los casos no recopilados previamente de ‘Soapy Joe’ French: relatos breves donde los asesinos tropiezan con un descuido menor, un emocionante misterio radiofónico y una obra de teatro en una habitación cerrada, así como un plus especial, la investigación más inusual de French. … Pero este volumen también incluye historias cortas que no pertenecen a ninguna serie y los dos casos poco conocidos del muchacho detective de Crofts, Robin Brand. Crippen & Landru se enorgullecen en presentar este volúmen con motivo de la celebración del centenario de uno de los gigantes de la Edad de Oro del crimen y de la novela policiaca.

Mi opinión: The 9.50 Up Express and Other Stories es una colección de relatos no recopilados anteriormente. Incluye también los guiones de una obra radiofónica y de una obra de teatro. La colección se divide en tres partes. La primera parte, dedicada al Inspector French, comienza con una mirada fascinante al personaje, “Meet Inspector French”, un ensayo leído por primera vez el 19 de noviembre de 1934 en el Empire Service de la BBC (Meet the Detective) por el propio autor, y que se publicó más tarde en Meet the Detective, George Allen & Unwin, 1935. Le siguen ocho relatos cortos protagonizados por el inspector French: “The Vertical Lane” (1935), “The Hunt Ball Murder” (1937), “The Match” (1939), “Fingerprints” (1952), “The Faulty Stroke” (1952), “Teamwork Felonious” (1953), “Dark Waters” (1953) y “The Target” (1953), para terminar con una obra radiofónica (“The 9.50 Up Express”, 1942) y una obra de teatro (“During the Night”, 1949), también protagonizada por el inspector French. La segunda parte está dedicada a Robin Brand, el detective juvenil de Freeman Wills Crofts que apareció en una novela, Young Robin Brand Detective, publicado en enero de 1947 por la University of London Press, y en dos cuentos: “Perilous Journey” (1949) y “Danger in Shroude Valley” (1950), ambos relatos se vuelven a publicar aquí para esta ocasión. La tercera y última parte, “Other Stories”, incluye dos historias policiacas que no pertenecen a ninguna serie: “James Alcorn’s Oversight” (1945), y “Murder by Deputy”  (1945). El volumen se completa con tres apéndices: “Why I Write Detective Stories” (1935) y “Who Killed Cock Robin?” (1938), ambos escritos por Crofts, junto con una bibliografía detallada.

En definitiva, una lectura ligera y entretenida.

Sobre el autor: Freeman Wills Crofts, FRSA – Miembro de la Royal Society of Arts, (1879 – 1957) fue un autor de misterio angloirlandés de la edad de oro de la ficción policiaca. Crofts nació en Dublín, Irlanda. Su padre, también llamado Freeman Wills Crofts, era cirujano-teniente en el Servicio Médico del Ejército, pero murió de fiebre en Honduras antes de que naciera el joven Freeman Wills Crofts. Su madre, de soltera Celia Frances Wise, se volvió a casar con el venerable Jonathan Harding, vicario de Gilford, condado de Down y archidiácono de Dromore, y Crofts se crió en la vicaría de Gilford. Asistió al Colegio Metodista y al Colegio Campbell en Belfast. En 1912 se casó con Mary Bellas Canning, hija del gerente de un banco local en Coleraine. En 1896, a la edad de diecisiete años, Crofts se convirtió en aprendiz de su tío materno, Berkeley Deane Wise, ingeniero jefe de la Compañía Ferroviaria de Belfast and Northern Counties. En 1899, Crofts fue nombrado asistente junior en la construcción de la extensión de Londonderry y Strabane del ferrocarril de Donegal. En 1900 se convirtió en Ingeniero de Distrito en Coleraine para el  L.M.S. Northern Counties Committee con un sueldo de £100 al año. En 1922, Crofts fue ascendido a ingeniero asistente jefe del ferrocarril, con sede en Belfast. Vivía en ‘Grianon’ en Jordanstown, un pueblo tranquilo a unas 6 millas al norte de Belfast, donde a Crofts le resultaba conveniente viajar en tren todos los días a las oficinas del ferrocarril en York Road. Croft continuó su carrera de ingenierio ferroviario hasta 1929. En su último cometido como ingeniero, el Gobierno de Irlanda del Norte le encargó que presidiera una investigación sobre el Plan de drenaje de Bann y Lough Neagh.

En 1919, durante una incapacidad laboral debida a una larga enfermedad, Crofts escribió su primera novela, The Cask (1920), que lo consagró como un nuevo maestro de la novela policíaca. Crofts continuó escribiendo de manera constante, produciendo un libro casi todos los años durante treinta años, además de una serie de relatos y obras de teatro. Es más recordado por su detective favorito, el inspector Joseph French, que aparece por primera vez en su quinto libro, Inspector French’s Greatest Case, (1924). El inspector French regresó en otras 29 novelas. El éxito de sus novelas le permitió dejar su trabajo y convertirse en escritor a tiempo completo. Él y su mujer se mudaron de Irlanda del Norte a Blackheath, Surrey. A principios de los años cincuenta, Crofts enfermó gravemente, pero continuó trabajando en lo que resultó ser su última novela.

Crofts fue miembro, con Dorothy L. Sayers y Agatha Christie, del Detection Club. En 1939 fue elegido miembro de la Royal Society of Arts. Crofts fue apreciado, no solo por sus lectores habituales, sino también por sus colegas escritores de la Edad de Oro de la ficción policiaca. Agatha Christie incluyó parodias del Inspector French junto a Sherlock Holmes y su propio Hércules Poirot en Partners in Crime (1929). Raymond Chandler lo describió como “el mejor constructor (de tramas) de todos ellos cuando no se muestra demasiado elegante” (en The Simple Art of Murder). Su atención al detalle y su concentración en la mecánica de la investigación policial lo convierten en precursor de la escuela del “procedimiento policial” de la ficción policiaca. Sin embargo, generó una sombra de una cierta falata de talento, y Julian Symons lo describió como de “la escuela monótona”. Esto puede explicar por qué su nombre no ha permanecido tan familiar como el de otros escritores de la Edad de Oro más animados e imaginativos, aunque tuvo 15 libros incluidos en la serie “verde” de Penguin Books de las mejores novelas de detectives y 36 de sus libros estaban a la venta en rústica en el 2000. (Varias fuentes y Wikipedia).

Crofts es uno de los tres escritores explorados en profundidad en el libro Masters of the “Humdrum” Mystery (2012) de Curtis Evans.

Acerca del editor: Tony Medawar es una autoridad en novela policíaca y criminal con una inclinación por recuperar obras perdidas, olvidadas y desconocidas de los maestros del género. Ha editado más de veinte libros que incluyen colecciones de historias raras de escritores tan diversos como Agatha Christie (While the Light Lasts), Anthony Berkeley (The Avenging Chance), Christianna Brand (The Spotted Cat), Ruth Rendell (A Spot of Folly), y Freeman Wills Crofts (The 9.50 Up Express). Otros libros incluyen Murder She Said: The Quotable Miss Marple y John Dickson Carr (The Island of Coffins and Other Mysteries from Cabin B13). También edita las antologías anuales de Bodies from the Library para Harper Collins, el quinto volumen, programado para salir a la venta el próximo 9 de junio, descubre más historias inéditas y no recopiladas de la Edad de Oro del suspense, incluyendo obras de John Bude, John Dickson Carr, Dorothy L. Sayers y Julian Symons.

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