My Book Notes: The Piccadilly Murder, 1929 by Anthony Berkeley

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The Langtail Press Ltd, 2011. Book Format: Paperback Edition. Print Length: 220 pages. ISBN: 978-1-78002-148-5. Originally published in the UK by Collins in 1929 and in the US by Doubleday in 1930.

31uU6WcJLfL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Synopsis: Once Mr Chitterwick had given his evidence, thus clarifying that the elderly lady’s death was murder and not suicide, it appeared a straightforward case. He had seen something being put into the lady’s coffee cup, after all. But then friends and relatives of the accused appeal to Mr Chitterwick, claiming him incapable of such a crime. As Mr Chitterwick investigates, doubts begin to surface, until more evidence arises to hint at a more complicated set of occurrences…

My Take: To escape his aunt, Mr. Ambrose Chitterwick is in the habit of occasionally visiting the lounge of the Piccadilly Palace Hotel. When the story begins he has arrived unusually early and, not without certain difficulty, he has found an empty table from which he prepares himself to practice his favourite pastime, people-watching and speculating by their appearance alone. Thus, the author takes advantage to introduce us to Mr. Chitterwick applying his own methods. The same Mr. Chitterwick whom we have met before in The Poisoned Chocolates Case (1929) and who will appear again in Trial and Error (1937).

“At a glance, then, Mr. Ambrose Chitterwick is seen to be a red-faced, somewhat globular, early middle-aged gentleman of independent means, with gold-rimmed pince-nez on a very short nose, less hair than he used to have and an extremely ancient aunt at Chiswick. With the remarkable mildness which is obvious a feature of Mr. Chitterwick’s nature, it is easy to deduce that Mr. Chitterwick not only live with his aunt at Chiswick, but to most purposes for his aunt at Chiswick too. From the same clue the deduction also follows that Mr. Chitterwick’s aunt at Chiswick rules Mr. Chitterwick with a rod of strong iron, for no female could live in the same house with such mild masculinity and not do so; moreover, by the law of averages, as applied to the houses of aunts in Chiswick, it must be clear that Mr. Chitterwick’s aunt must be an old lady of quite exceptional forcefulness and will.”

At a given time, Mr. Chitterwick witnesses the death of an elderly lady, Miss Sinclair. Initially the police has doubts whether it is suicide or murder. But it happens that, shortly before, Mr. Chitterwick had seen  her chatting with a rather large man with curly red hair, who dropped something into the old lady’s cup just before leaving. Therefore, when it is determined that the elderly lady was poisoned, Mr Chitterwick does not hesitate to call his acquaintance Chief Inspector Moresby and informs him of what he had seen. Mr. Chitterwick identifies the red-haired man who turns out to be none other than Major Sinclair, Miss Sinclair’s nephew and only heir. It is also the case that he has enough grounds to kill his aunt before she disinherits him, as she had announced, if he insisted in getting married without her consent. 

It seems an open and shut case, if it weren’t because only a few pages have elapsed from a novel that exceeds the 200.

The expectations I had set on this book were too high, perhaps by the reading of some of the reviews that are attached further below. And even if I can’t say that it has disappointed me, it hasn’t really enthused me. It is an excellent novel and I have enjoyed it a lot, but not as much as I enjoyed reading Jumpy Jenny or even Trial and Error. Since it might be only a matter of taste, I would suggest to judge for yourselves.

The Piccadilly Murder has been reviewed, among others, by Jon at Golden Age of Detection Wiki, Martin Edwards at ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’, Rob Kitchin at The View from the Blue House, Kate Jackson at Cross-examining Crime, thegreencpasule at The Green Capsule, and Nick Fuller at The Grandest Game in the World.


(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Collins Detective Novel (UK), 1929)


(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Doubleday The Crime Club (USA), 1930)

About the Author: Anthony Berkeley, whose real name was Anthony Berkeley Cox, was a popular British satirical journalist, crime and mystery writer, and literary critic who wrote under the pseudonyms Francis Iles, Anthony Berkeley, and A. Monmouth Platts.

Born in Watford, Hertfordshire on 5 July 1893, he was the son of Alfred Edward Cox, a doctor who invented a kind of X-ray machine that allowed shrapnel to be detected in wounded patients, and Sybil Cox (née Iles), who claimed descent from the 17th-century Earl of Monmouth and a smuggler named Francis Iles. The family inheritance included two estates in Watford: Monmouth House and The Platts. Cox was educated at Sherborne School and University College, Oxford. With the outbreak of the First World War, he enlisted, attained the rank of lieutenant in the 7th Northumberland Regiment and was gassed in France. Invalided out of the army, his health was seriously affected for the rest of his life. Details about his professional life in the years immediately after the war are somewhat sketchy. As time went by he devoted himself more and more to writing.

Cox married twice, the first with Margaret Farrar when he was on leave in London in December 1917. Although their marriage did not last long, they did not divorced until 1931 and Margaret Cox remarried. Apparently their breakup was amicable. The second in 1932 with Helen Peters (née MacGregor), the ex-wife of his literary agent, A. D. Peters. He has no children from either of his two marriages, although Helen brought her two children by Peters with her. His second marriage broke up in the late 1940s, and their parting again appears to have been reasonably amicable.

Cox’s professional writing career began around 1922, writing satirical stories for Punch and other popular publications. His first detective novel, The Layton Court Mystery, was published anonymously in 1925. In a period of fifteen years, between 1925 and 1939, Cox published twenty-four books, including fourteen classic full-length detective stories and two sublime phycological thrillers.

In 1930, Berkeley founded the legendary Detection Club in London together with leading practitioners of the genre, such as Gilbert K. Chesterton, Agatha Christie, R. Austin Freeman, Baroness Orczy and Dorothy L. Sayers. In fact, the Crimes Circle in The Poisoned Chocolates Case can rightly be considered a predecessor of the Detection Club in fiction.

After 1939, Cox decided to stop writing fiction for reasons that are still subject to speculation. For the next thirty years his literary output was limited to book reviews for the Sunday Times and the Manchester Guardian. Considered a key figure in the development of crime fiction, Anthony Berkeley Cox died at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, on 9 March 1971. On his death certificate his name was mistakenly recorded as Anthony Beverley Cox.

Anthony Berkeley Cox Bibliography:

Roger Sheringham series: The Layton Court Mystery published as by “?” (Herbert Jenkins, 1925; Doubleday, 1929); The Wychford Poisoning Case: An Essay in Criminology published as by the author of The Layton Court Mystery (Collins, 1926; Doubleday, 1930); Roger Sheringham and the Vane Mystery (Collins, 1927; reprinted by Collins as The Vane Mystery; US title: The Mystery at Lovers’ Cave, Simons & Schuster, 1927); The Silk Stocking Murders (Collins, 1928; Doubleday, 1928); The Poisoned Chocolates Case (Collins, 1929; Doubleday, 1929); The Second Shot (Hodder & Stoughton, 1930; Doubleday, 1931); Top Storey Murder (Hodder, 1931; US title: Top Story Murder, Doubleday, 1931); Murder in the Basement (Hodder, 1932; Doubleday, 1932); Jumping Jenny (Hodder, 1933; US title: Dead Mrs. Stratton, Doubleday, 1933); Panic Party (Hodder, 1934; US title: Mr. Pidgeon’s Island, Doubleday, 1934); and The Avenging Chance and Other Mysteries from Roger Sheringham’s Casebook (Crippen & Landru, 2004); 2nd edition with an additional story (Crippen & Landru, 2015).

Other Crime Novels: Cicely Disappears published as by A. Monmouth Platts (John Long, 1927, a shorter version appeared as a serial, The Wintringham Mystery, as by A.B. Cox, in The Daily Mirror); Mr Priestley’s Problem published as by A.B. Cox (Collins, 1927; US title: The Amateur Crime (Doubleday, 1928), The Piccadilly Murder (Collins, 1929; Doubleday, 1930); Trial and Error (Hodder, 1937; Doubleday, 1937); Not to Be Taken (Hodder, 1938; US title: A Puzzle in Poison (Doubleday, 1938); and Death in the House (Hodder, 1939; Doubleday, 1939).

Novels as Francis Iles: Malice Aforethought: The Story of a Commonplace Crime (Gollancz, 1931; Harper, 1931); Before the Fact: A Murder Story for Ladies (Gollancz, 1932; Doubleday, 1932); and As for the Woman: A Love Story (Jarrolds, 1939; Doubleday, 1939)

Collaborative works with members of the Detection Club: The Floating Admiral (Hodder, 1931; Doubleday, 1932); Ask a Policemen (Barker, 1933; Morrow, 1933); Six Against the Yard (Selwyn & Blount, 1936; US title: Six Against Scotland Yard, Doubleday, 1936); and The Scoop and Behind the Screen (both collaborative detective serials written by members of the Detection Club which were broadcast weekly by their authors on the BBC National Programme in 1930 and 1931 with the scripts then being published in The Listener within a week after broadcast. The two serials were first published in book form in the UK by Victor Gollancz Ltd in 1983 and in the US by Harper & Row in 1984)

Further reading: Elusion Aforethought: The Life and Writing of Anthony Berkeley Cox by Malcolm J. Turnbull (Bowling Green State University Press, 1996); The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards (Harper Collins, 2015)

Ranking the Work of Anthony Berkeley by Kate Jackson

Anthony Berkeley page at Golden Age of Detection Wiki

The Urbane Innovator: Anthony Berkeley, Aka Francis Iles by Martin Edwards

The Piccadilly Murder, de Anthony Berkeley

Sinopsis: Una vez que el Sr. Chitterwick hizo su declaración, determinando así que la muerte de la señora mayor fue un asesinato y no un suicidio, parecía un caso sencillo. Después de todo, había visto poner algo en la taza de café de la señora. Pero luego los amigos y familiares del acusado apelan al Sr. Chitterwick, alegando que es incapaz de tal crimen. A medida que el Sr. Chitterwick investiga, comienzan a surgir dudas, hasta que aparecen nuevas pruebas que sugieren un conjunto de acontecimientos más complejos…

Mi opinión: Para escapar de su tía, el Sr. Ambrose Chitterwick tiene la costumbre de visitar ocasionalmente el salón del Hotel Piccadilly Palace. Cuando empieza la historia ha llegado inusualmente temprano y, no sin cierta dificultad, ha encontrado una mesa vacía desde la que se dispone a practicar su pasatiempo favorito, observar a la gente y especular sólo con su apariencia. Así, el autor aprovecha para presentarnos al Sr. Chitterwick aplicando sus propios métodos. El mismo Sr. Chitterwick a quien hemos conocido antes en El caso de los bombones envenenados (1929) y que volverá a aparecer en Trial and Error (1937).

“De un vistazo, entonces, se ve que el Sr. Ambrose Chitterwick es un caballero con medios de subsistencia independientes, de cara enrojecida, algo redondeada, de mediana edad, con quevedos dorados en una nariz muy corta, menos cabello del que solía tener y una tía muy anciana en Chiswick. Con una suavidad destacable que es un rasgo obvio de la naturaleza del Sr. Chitterwick, es fácil deducir que el Sr. Chitterwick no solo vive con su tía en Chiswick, sino también en la mayoría de los casos para su tía en Chiswick. Del mismo indicio también se deduce que la tía del Sr. Chitterwick en Chiswick gobierna al Sr. Chitterwick con vara de hierro, porque ninguna mujer podría vivir en la misma casa con una masculinidad tan moderada y no hacerlo; además, según la ley de las estadísticas, según se aplica a las casas de las tías en Chiswick, debe quedar claro que la tía del señor Chitterwick debe ser una señora mayor con una fuerza y ​​una voluntad excepcionales.”

En un momento dado, el Sr. Chitterwick es testigo de la muerte de una señora mayor, Miss Sinclair. Inicialmente, la policía tiene dudas sobre si se trata de un suicidio o de un asesinato. Pero sucede que, poco antes, el señor Chitterwick la había visto charlando con un hombre bastante corpulento de pelo rojo rizado, que echó algo en la taza de la señora mayor justo antes de marcharse. Por ello, cuando se determina que la señora fue envenenada, el señor Chitterwick no duda en llamar a su conocido el inspector jefe Moresby y le informa de lo que había visto. El Sr. Chitterwick identifica al hombre pelirrojo que resulta ser nada menos que el mayor Sinclair, el sobrino y único heredero de Miss Sinclair. También se da el caso de que tiene motivos suficientes para matar a su tía antes de que ella lo desherede, como ella había anunciado, si él insistía en casarse sin su consentimiento.

Parece un caso abierto y cerrado, si no fuera porque apenas han transcurrido unas pocas páginas de una novela que supera las 200.

Las expectativas que había puesto en esta novela eran demasiado altas, quizás por la lectura de algunas de las reseñas que se adjuntan más arriba en inglés. Y aunque no puedo decir que me haya decepcionado, en realidad no me ha entusiasmado. Es una novela excelente y la he disfrutado mucho, pero no tanto como disfruté leyendo Jumpy Jenny o incluso Trial and Error. Como puede que solo sea una cuestión de gustos, sugiero que juzguéis por vosotros mismos.

Sobre el autor: Anthony Berkeley, cuyo verdadero nombre era Anthony Berkeley Cox, fue un popular periodista satírico, escritor de novelas de detectives y de misterio, y crítico literario británico que escribió bajo los seudónimos de Francis Iles, Anthony Berkeley y A. Monmouth Platts.

Nacido en Watford, Hertfordshire el 5 de julio de 1893, era hijo de Alfred Edward Cox, un médico que inventó una especie de máquina de rayos X que permitía detectar metralla en pacientes heridos, y de Sybil Cox (de soltera Iles) quien afirmaba descender del Earl of Monmouth del siglo XVII y de un contrabandista llamado Francis Iles. La herencia familiar incluía dos propiedades en Watford: Monmouth House y The Platts. Cox se educó en el Sherborne School y en el University College, de Oxford. Con el estallido de la Primera Guerra Mundial, se alistó, alcanzó el rango de teniente en el 7º Regimiento de Northumberland, y fue gaseado en Francia. Dado de baja del ejército por invalidez, su salud se vio gravemente afectada por el resto de su vida. Los detalles sobre su vida profesional en los años inmediatamente posteriores a la guerra son algo vagos. Con el paso del tiempo se dedicó cada vez más a escribir.

Cox se casó dos veces, la primera con Margaret Farrar cuando estaba de permiso en Londres en diciembre de 1917. Aunque su matrimonio no duró mucho, no se divorciaron hasta 1931 y Margaret Cox se volvió a casar. Al parecer, su ruptura fue amistosa. La segunda en 1932 con Helen Peters (de soltera MacGregor), exmujer de su agente literario, A. D. Peters. No tuvo hijos de ninguno de sus dos matrimonios, aunque Helen aportó a su matrimonio sus hijos con Peters. Su segundo matrimonio se rompió a fines de la década de 1940 y su separación nuevamente parece haber sido razonablemente amistosa.

La carrera como autor profesional de Cox comenzó alrededor de 1922, escribiendo historias satíricas para Punch y otras publicaciones populares. Su primera novela policiaca, The Layton Court Mystery, se publicó de forma anónima en 1925. En un período de quince años, entre 1925 y 1939, Cox publicó veinticuatro libros, incluidas catorce historias policiacas clásicas y dos sublimes thrillers psicológicos.

En 1930, Berkeley fundó el legendario Detention Club en Londres junto con destacados especialistas del género, como Gilbert K. Chesterton, Agatha Christie, R. Austin Freeman, Baroness Orczy y Dorothy L. Sayers. De hecho, el Círculo del Cirmen en The Poisoned Chocolates Case puede considerarse con razón un predecesor del Detention Club en la ficción.

Después de 1939, Cox decidió dejar de escribir ficción por razones que aún son objeto de especulación. Durante los siguientes treinta años, su producción literaria se limitó a reseñas de libros para el Sunday Times y el Manchester Guardian. Considerado una figura clave en el desarrollo de la novela policíaca, Anthony Berkeley Cox murió en el St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, el 9 de marzo de 1971. En su certificado de defunción, su nombre se registró por error como Anthony Beverley Cox.

Bibliografía de sus historias policiacas:

Serie de Roger Sheringham: The Layton Court Mystery [El Misterio de Layton Court] published as by “?” (Herbert Jenkins, 1925; Doubleday, 1929); The Wychford Poisoning Case: An Essay in Criminology published as by the author of The Layton Court Mystery (Collins, 1926; Doubleday, 1930); Roger Sheringham and the Vane Mystery (Collins, 1927; reprinted by Collins as The Vane Mystery; US title: The Mystery at Lovers’ Cave, Simons & Schuster, 1927); The Silk Stocking Murders [El crimen de las medias de seda] (Collins, 1928; Doubleday, 1928); The Poisoned Chocolates Case [El caso de los bombones envenenados ](Collins, 1929; Doubleday, 1929); The Second Shot (Hodder & Stoughton, 1930; Doubleday, 1931); Top Storey Murder (Hodder, 1931; US title: Top Story Murder, Doubleday, 1931); Murder in the Basement [Asesinato en el sótano] (Hodder, 1932; Doubleday, 1932); Jumping Jenny [Baile de máscaras] (Hodder, 1933; US title: Dead Mrs. Stratton, Doubleday, 1933); Panic Party (Hodder, 1934; US title: Mr. Pidgeon’s Island, Doubleday, 1934); and The Avenging Chance and Other Mysteries from Roger Sheringham’s Casebook (Crippen & Landru, 2004); 2nd edition with an additional story (Crippen & Landru, 2015).

Otras novelas policiacas: Cicely Disappears published as by A. Monmouth Platts (John Long, 1927, a shorter version appeared as a serial, The Wintringham Mystery, as by A.B. Cox, in The Daily Mirror); Mr Priestley’s Problem published as by A.B. Cox (Collins, 1927; US title: The Amateur Crime (Doubleday, 1928); The Piccadilly Murder (Collins, 1929; Doubleday, 1930); Trial and Error [El dueño de la muerte] (Hodder, 1937; Doubleday, 1937); Not to Be Taken (Hodder, 1938; US title: A Puzzle in Poison (Doubleday, 1938); and Death in the House (Hodder, 1939; Doubleday, 1939).

Como Francis Iles: Malice Aforethought: The Story of a Commonplace Crime [Premeditación] (Gollancz, 1931; Harper, 1931); Before the Fact: A Murder Story for Ladies [Complicidad] (Gollancz, 1932; Doubleday, 1932); and As for the Woman: A Love Story [Las redes del amor] (Jarrolds, 1939; Doubleday, 1939)

Trabajos en colaboración con otros miembros del Detection Club: The Floating Admiral (Hodder, 1931; Doubleday, 1932); Ask a Policemen (Barker, 1933; Morrow, 1933); Six Against the Yard (Selwyn & Blount, 1936; US title: Six Against Scotland Yard, Doubleday, 1936); and The Scoop and Behind the Screen (both collaborative detective serials written by members of the Detection Club which were broadcast weekly by their authors on the BBC National Programme in 1930 and 1931 with the scripts then being published in The Listener within a week after broadcast. The two serials were first published in book form in the UK by Victor Gollancz Ltd in 1983 and in the US by Harper & Row in 1984)

Otras lecturas: Elusion Aforethought: The Life and Writing of Anthony Berkeley Cox by Malcolm J. Turnbull (Bowling Green State University Press, 1996); The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards (Harper Collins, 2015).

Domingo Villar In Memoriam

Due to the sad and untimely death of Domingo Villar (1 January 1971 – 18 May 2022) I’m updating here my information on Domingo Villar books’.

Domingo Villar was a Spanish crime writer, born and raised in Vigo. He was the author of three acclaimed and bestselling novels which feature his protagonist, Inspector Leo Caldas. All three novels were originally published in Galician before being translated into Spanish by the author himself, and have been translated into many other languages. He received great recognition and many awards for his writing, including the Frey Martín Sarmiento Prize, the Sintagma Prize, and the 21st Brigade and was also a finalist for the Crime Thriller Awards and the Dagger International in the UK, the Le Point du Polar Européen in France and the Swedish Crime Novel Academy Award, The Martin Beck Prize. The Last Ferry is the latest instalment of the Inspector Caldas series.

41UUJP5BDYL._SY264_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_ML2_Water Blue-Eyes, Arcadia 2007 (originally titled Ollos de auga, Galaxia 2006, Ojos de agua, Siruela 2006). Amid the aroma of the sea and the Galician pines, a young saxophonist is found dead in his swanky flat overlooking the beach. The murder seems to have taken place after a sexual encounter with a lover: there are two glasses filled with gin in the living room, and the dead man, Luis Reigosa, is tied by the wrists to the headboard of the bed. But the way he was killed makes it impossible to obtain any more clues about his activities that night: his stomach, groin, genitals and thighs are horribly burned. The unusually cold-blooded and cruel murder is assigned to Leo Caldas, a disheartened police inspector still searching for his place in the world. The case unfolds between inviting nights at the jazz clubs and the tense, affected atmosphere of affluent Vigo.

My review is HERE.

31dwmIkGvUL._SY346_Death on a Galician Shore, Abacus 2011 (originally titled A praia dos afogados, Galaxia 2009; La playa de los ahogados, Siruela 2009). One misty autumn dawn in a quiet fishing port in northwest Spain, the body of a sailor washes up in the harbour. Detective Inspector Leo Caldas is called in from police headquarters in the nearby city of Vigo to sign off on what appears to be a suicide. But details soon come to light that turn this routine matter into a complex murder investigation. Finding out the truth is not easy when the villagers are so suspicious of outsiders. As Caldas delves into the maritime life of the village, he uncovers a disturbing decade-old case of a shipwreck and two mysterious disappearances. Death on a Galician Shore is a chilling story of violence, blackmail and revenge that has enthralled readers across Europe…

My review is HERE.

41 VDIhI8FL._SY346_The Last Ferry (originally titled, O último baco Galaxia, El último barco, Siruela 2020) Domingo Villar returns with the most eagerly awaited crime novel of recent years. Doctor Andrade’s daughter lives in a blue house that looks out to the gentle waves that lap up onto the beach in a marked contrast to the uproar on the other shoreline. There, fishing boats are dragged across the sand, sailors splash busily in the water and rushed commuters wait at the dock for the ferry that crosses the Vigo river to the city every half hour. One autumn morning, while the Galician coast is still recovering from a storm, Inspector Caldas is visited by the worried Doctor: his daughter, Mónica, has disappeared. She didn’t come to their family meal at the weekend or give her class in ceramics at the School of Art and Crafts the following Monday. Although nothing in the home or routine of Mónica Andrade appears to have changed, Leo Caldas will soon find that in life, as on the sea, devastating currents can lurk beneath the calmest of waters.

My review will follow soon.

My Book Notes: At Bertram’s Hotel, 1965 (Miss Marple # 11) by Agatha Christie

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HarperCollins; Masterpiece Edition, 2010. Book Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 1029 KB. Print Length: 274 pages. ASIN:B0046RE5G8. eISBN: 9780007422159. First published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 15 November 1965 and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company the following year.

81I9-pK3w6L._AC_UL320_Synopsis: An old-fashioned London Hotel is not quite as reputable as it makes out…
When Miss Marple comes up from the country for a holiday in London, she finds what she’s looking for at Bertram’s Hotel: traditional décor, impeccable service and an unmistakable atmosphere of danger behind the highly polished veneer.
Yet, not even Miss Marple can foresee the violent chain of events set in motion when an eccentric guest makes his way to the airport on the wrong day…

More about this story: One of Miss Marple’s few outings from St Mary Mead, this time she’s holidaying in London, when a certain eccentric guest sets off a violent chain of events.
The story was adapted for TV starring Joan Hickson in 1987. BBC Radio 4 dramatised the story in 2004 and it was adapted again for TV in 2007, this time featuring Geraldine McEwan as the elderly sleuth, and included substantial changes from the novel.

My Take: The penultimate title of the series following the chronological order in which it was written. As the title suggests, the action takes place at Bertram’s Hotel in London, which stands as one more character in the story.

Bertram’s Hotel has been there a long time. During the war, houses were demolished on the right of it, and a little further down on the left of it, but Bertram’s itself remains unscathed. Naturally it could not escape being, as house agents would say, scratched, bruised and marked, but by the expenditure of only a reasonable amount of money it was restored to its original condition. By 1955 it looked precisely as it has looked in 1939 –dignified, unostentatious, and quietly expensive.

However as Miss Marple herself mentions at one point: “I learned (what I suppose I really new already) that one can never go back, that one should not ever try to go back -that the essence of life is going forward. Life is really a One Way Street, isn’t it?

It all opens the day Miss Marple arrives at the hotel to spend a fortnight as a present from the Wests. They thought in giving her a holiday at a seaside resort, like Bournemouth, but Miss Marple told them that nothing would have made her happier than a holiday at Bertram’s Hotel in London, where she had once stayed as a child. As from this point on, the story forks into multiple plots, that will keep the reader wondering what shall be its common nexus and that are not easy to summarise here in a few words without giving too much away. Among the characters involved we find Bess Sedgwick a name that almost everyone in England knew.

For over thirty years now, Bess Sedgwick had been reported by the Press as doing this or that outrageous or extraordinary thing. For a good part of the war she had been a member of the French Resistance, and was said to have six notches on her gun representing dead Germans. She had flown solo across the Atlantic years ago,had ridden on horseback across Europe and fetched up at Lake Van. She had driven racing cars, had once saved two children from a burning house, had several marriage to her credit and discredit and was said to be the second best-dressed woman in Europe. It was also said that she had successfully smuggled herself aboard a nuclear submarine on its test voyage.

In addition to the usual staff that we can find in a hotel (the manager, the receptionist, the chambermaid, and the hotel doorman), other characters in the story are: Miss Elvira Blake, a rich heiress; Colonel Luscombe, her guardian until her coming of age; Ladislaus Malinowski, a world champion racing driver who a year ago had a bad crash and broke lots of things, but it’s believe he’s driving again now; Canon Pennyfather, an extremely absent-minded cleric who is also staying at the Hotel; and, to complete the big picture of characters, Chief-Inspector Fred “Father” Davy who is in charge of investigating a series of bank holdups, snatches of payrolls, thefts of consignments of jewels sent through the mail and train robberies, which are one of Scotland Yard’s main challenges at the time.

I got the impression that Agatha Christie failed to properly finish the mess of plots in which she had gotten herself. The outcome is a bit rushed and even the murder, which takes place towards the end of the story, is difficult to explain and it seemed to me somehow gratuitous. Not to mention the difficult fit of one of the subplots within the story. It’s certainly not one of Christie’s best stories, although I found it quite entertaining at times.

At Bertram’s Hotel has been reviewed, among others, by Kerrie Smith at Mysteries in Paradise, Bev Hankins at My Reader’s Block, Jim Noy at The Invisible Event, Rekha at The Book Decoder, and John Harrison and Countdown John’s Christie Journal.


(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets, LLC. Dodd, Mead & Company (USA), 1966)

About the author: Agatha Christie is recognised around the world as the Queen of Crime. Her books have sold over a billion copies in English and another billion in 100 foreign languages. She is the most widely published author of all time and in any language,outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare. Ms. Christie is the author of eighty crime novels and short story collections, nineteen plays, and six novels written under the name of Mary Westmacott. Agatha Christie’s first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was written towards the end of World War I (during which she served in the Voluntary Aid Detachment, VAD). In it she created Hercule Poirot, the little Belgian investigator who was destined to become the most popular detective in crime novels since Sherlock Holmes. After having been rejected by various publishers, The Mysterious Affair at Styles was eventually published by The Bodley Head in 1920. In 1926, now averaging a book a year, Agatha Christie wrote her masterpiece. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was the first of her books to be published by William Collins and marked the beginning of an author-publisher relationship that lasted for fifty years and produced over seventy books. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was also the first of Agatha Christie’s works to be dramatized – as Alibi – and to have a successful run in London’s West End. The Mousetrap, her most famous play, opened in 1952 and still runs nowadays; it is the longest-running play in history. Agatha Christie was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1971. She died in 1976, since then a number of her books have been published: the bestselling novel Sleeping Murder appeared in 1976, followed by An Autobiography and the short story collections Miss Marple’s Final Cases; Problem at Pollensa Bay; and While the Light Lasts. In 1998, Black Coffee was the first of her plays to be novelized by Charles Osborne, Ms. Christie’s biographer.

Along with Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple is the one of the most famous fictional detectives created by Agatha Christie. She made her first appearance in “The Tuesday Night Club”, a short story published in The Sketch magazine in 1926, which later became the first chapter of The Thirteen Problems (1932). The character appeared in a total of 12 novels and 20 short stories. Her first appearance in a full-length novel was in The Murder at the Vicarage in 1930, and her last appearance was in Sleeping Murder in 1976.

The following are Miss Marple stories in chronological order: The Murder at the Vicarage [1930]; The Thirteen Problems apa The Tuesday Club Murders (thirteen short mysteries featuring Miss Marple [1932); The Body in the Library [1942]; The Moving Finger [1942]; A Murder is Announced [1950]; They Do it with Mirrors apa Murder With Mirrors [1952]; A Pocket Full of Rye [1953]; 4.50 from Paddington apa What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw! [1957]; The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side apa The Mirror Crack’d [1962]; A Caribbean Mystery [1964]; At Bertram’s Hotel [1965]; Nemesis [1971]; and two books published posthumously, Sleeping Murder [1976] and Miss Marple’s Final Cases and Two Other Stories (eight/nine short stories written between 1939 and 1954 but only six/seven feature Miss Marple) apa Miss Marple’s Final Cases [1979]. More recently Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories [2016] this title includes more than 50 short stories by Agatha Christie including all the 20 Miss Marple short mysteries taken from earlier collections.

Harper Collins Publishers UK publicity page

Harper Collins Publishers US publicity page

The Home of Agatha Christie

Notes On At Bertram’s Hotel

Agatha Christie at A Guide to Classic Mystery and Detection

Agatha Christie page at Golden Age of Detection Wiki


En el Hotel Bertram, de Agatha Christie

portada_en-el-hotel-bertram_agatha-christie_202201031156Sinposis: Un anticuado hotel de Londres no es tan respetable como parece…
Cuando Miss Marple llega del pueblo para pasar unas vacaciones en Londres, encuentra lo que busca en el Hotel Bertram: una decoración tradicional, un servicio impecable y una inconfundible atmósfera de peligro detrás de una capa muy refinada.
Sin embargo, ni siquiera Miss Marple puede prever la violenta cadena de esucesos que se desencadenan cuando un invitado excéntrico se dirige al aeropuerto en el día equivocado…

Más sobre esta historia: Una de las pocas salidas de Miss Marple desde St Mary Mead, esta vez de vacaciones a Londres, cuando cierto invitado excéntrico desencadena una violenta cadena de sucesos.
La historia fue adaptada para televisión protagonizada por Joan Hickson en 1987. BBC Radio 4 dramatizó la historia en el 2004 y fue adaptada nuevamente para la televisión en el 2007, esta vez con Geraldine McEwan como la anciana detective incluyendo cambios sustanciales en la novela.

Mi opinión: El penúltimo título de la serie siguiendo el orden cronológico en que fue escrito. Como sugiere el título, la acción se desarrolla en el Hotel Bertram de Londres, que se erige como un personaje más de la historia.

El Hotel Bertram lleva mucho tiempo allí. Durante la guerra, se demolieron casas a su derecha y un poco más abajo a su izquierda, pero el Bertram permanece intacto. Naturalmente, no ha podido evitar, como dirían los agentes inmobiliarios, las marcas, los arañazod y las magulladuras, pero con el solo desembolso de una cantidad de dinero razonable fue restaurado a su estado original. En 1955 se veía exactamente como se veía en 1939: digno, sin ostentación y discretamente caro.

Sin embargo, como la propia Miss Marple menciona en un momento: “Aprendí (lo que supongo que realmente ya sé) que nunca se puede volver atrás, que nunca se debe intentar volver atrás, que la esencia de la vida es ir hacia adelante. La vida es realmente una calle de sentido único, ¿no es verdadí?”

Todo comienza el día en que Miss Marple llega al hotel para pasar quince días como regalo de los West. Pensaron en regalarle unas vacaciones en un balneario, como Bournemouth, pero Miss Marple les dijo que nada la habría hecho tan feliz como unas vacaciones en el Bertram’s Hotel de Londres, donde una vez se había hospedado de niña. A partir de este momento, la historia se bifurca en múltiples tramas, que mantendrán al lector preguntándose cuál será su nexo común y que no son fáciles de resumir aquí en pocas palabras sin revelar demasiado. Entre los personajes que intervienen encontramos a Bess Sedgwick un nombre que casi todos en Inglaterra conocían.

Durante más de treinta años, la prensa había informado que Bess Sedgwick había hecho tal o cual cosa escandalosa o extraordinaria. Durante buena parte de la guerra había sido miembro de la Resistencia francesa y se decía que su arma tenía seis muescas que representaban alemanes muertos. Había volado en soliatrio a través del Atlántico años atrás, había cabalgado a través de Europa y había llegado al lago Van. Había pilotado coches de carreras, una vez había salvado a dos niños de una casa en llamas, tenía varios matrimonios en su haber y en su descrédito y se decía que era la segunda mujer mejor vestida de Europa. También se dijo que se había intoducido ilegalmente a bordo de un submarino nuclear durante su viaje de prueba.

Además del personal habitual que podemos encontrar en un hotel (el gerente, la recepcionista, la camarera y el portero del hotel), otros personajes de la historia son: la señorita Elvira Blake, una rica heredera; el coronel Luscombe, su tutor hasta su mayoría de edad; Ladislaus Malinowski, un piloto de carreras campeón del mundo que hace un año tuvo un fuerte accidente y se rompió muchas cosas, pero se cree que ahora está pilotando de nuevo; el canónigo Canon Pennyfather, un clérigo extremadamente distraído que también se hospeda en el Hotel; y, para completar el cuadro general de personajes, el inspector jefe Fred “Father” Davy, quien está a cargo de investigar una serie de atracos a bancos, robos de nóminas, hurtos de envíos postales de joyas y asaltos a trenes, que son uno de los principales desafíos de Scotland Yard en ese momento.

Me dio la impresión de que Agatha Christie no logró terminar adecuadamente el lío de tramas en las que se había metido. El desenlace es un poco precipitado e incluso el asesinato, que tiene lugar hacia el final de la historia, es difícil de explicar y me pareció algo gratuito. Sin mencionar el difícil encaje de una de las tramas secundarias dentro de la historia. Ciertamente no es una de las mejores historias de Christie, aunque a veces me pareció bastante entretenida.

Acerca del autor: Agatha Christie es reconocida en todo el mundo como la Reina del Crimen. Sus libros han vendido más de mil millones de copias en inglés y otros mil millones en 100 idiomas extranjeros. Es la autora más publicada de todos los tiempos y en cualquier idioma, superada solo por la Biblia y Shakespeare. La Sra. Christie es autora de ochenta novelas policiacas y colecciones de relatos, diecinueve obras de teatro y seis novelas escritas con el nombre de Mary Westmacott. La primera novela de Agatha Christie, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, fue escrita hacia finales de la Primera Guerra Mundial (durante la cual sirvió en el Destacamento de Ayuda Voluntaria, VAD). En ellal creó a Hercule Poirot, el pequeño investigador belga que estaba destinado a convertirse en el detective más popular de novelas policiacas desde Sherlock Holmes. Después de haber sido rechazada la novela por varias editoriales, The Mysterious Affair at Styles fue finalmente publicada por The Bodley Head en 1920. En 1926, ahora con un promedio de un libro al año, Agatha Christie escribió su obra maestra. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd el primero de sus libros en ser publicado por William Collins y marcó el comienzo de una relación autor-editor que duró cincuenta años y generó más de setenta libros. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd fue también la primera de las novelas de Agatha Christie en ser dramatizada —como Alibi— y en tener éxito en el West End de Londres. The Mousetrap, su obra de teatro más famosa, se estrenó en 1952 y se continua representando en la actualidad; es la obra que mas tiempo ha estado en cartelera de toda la historia. Agatha Christie se convirtió en Dama Comendadora de la Orden del Imperio Británico (DBE) en 1971. Murió en 1976, a partir de entonces se han publicado varios de sus libros: el best-seller Sleeping Murder apareció en 1976, seguido de An Autobiography y las colecciones de relatos: Miss Marple’s Final Cases; Problem at Pollensa Bay; y While the Light Lasts. En 1998, Black Coffee fue la primera de sus obras de teatro en ser novelizada por Charles Osborne, el biógrafo de la Sra. Christie.

Junto con Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple es una de las detectives de novela más famosas creadas por Agatha Christie. Hizo su primera aparición en “The Tuesday Night Club”, un relato publicado en la revista The Sketch en 1926, que luego se convirtió en el primer capítulo de Miss Marple y los trece problemas (1932). El personaje apareció en un total de 12 novelas y 20 relatos. Su primera aparición en una novela larga fue en Muerte en la vicaría en 1930, y su última aparición fue en Un crimen dormido en 1976.

Las siguientes son las historias de Miss Marple en orden cronológico: Muerte en la vicaría (The Murder at the Vicarage, 1930); Miss Marple y los trece problemas (The Thirteen Problems apa The Tuesday Club Murders, (relatos), 1933); Un cadáver en la biblioteca (The Body in the Library, 1942); El caso de los anónimos (The Moving Finger, 1943); Se anuncia un asesinato (A Murder is Announced, 1950); El truco de los espejos (They Do it with Mirrors apa Murder With Mirrors, 1952); Un puñado de centeno ( A Pocket Full of Rye, 1953); El tren de las 4:50 (4.50 from Paddington apa What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw!, 1957); El espejo se rajó de lado a lado (The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side) (1962); Misterio en el Caribe (A Caribbean Mystery, 1964); En el hotel Bertram (At Bertram’s Hotel, 1965); Némesis (Nemesis 1971); Un crimen dormido (Sleeping Murder: Miss Marple’s Last Case, escrito en torno a 1940 y publicado póstumamente en 1976); y Miss Marple’s Final Cases and Two Other Stories (ocho/nueve relatos escritos entre 1939 y 1954 pero solo seis/siete protagonizados por Miss Marple) apa Miss Marple’s Final Cases [1979]. Más recientemente, Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories [2016], este título incluye más de 50 cuentos de Agatha Christie, incluidos los 20 relatos de Miss Marple tomados de colecciones anteriores.

Planeta de Libros página de publicidad

My Book Notes: Clues to Christie: The Definitive Guide to Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Tommy & Tuppence and All of Agatha Christie’s Mysteries

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HarperCollins, 2011. Book Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 9402 KB. Print Length: 97 pages. ASIN: B005IH02WG. ISBN: 9780007455959

816zDSFnPTL._AC_UL320_About: The ultimate introductory guide to Agatha Christie and her detectives, including stories featuring Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, and Tommy & Tuppence.

Ever wondered how Agatha Christie became the world’s best-selling storyteller? Never read one even though you know someone who loves her? Too bewildered by the choice of books to know where to start? Then CLUES TO CHRISTIE could be the key that unlocks the door to a world of mystery, thrills and romance that has captivated readers from 9 to 90 for the last 90 years.

With more than two billion book sales, Agatha Christie is the world’s best-selling novelist, translated into more languages than Shakespeare. And with more than 100 books and plays to her name, and over 150 short stories, it is no surprise that one-third of all fiction readers have read an Agatha Christie, and millions have seen the films and TV series.

This exclusive eBook sampler includes a specially written introduction by the award-winning author and world’s foremost expert on Agatha Christie, John Curran. Together with other useful and enlightening material to help readers navigate the world of Agatha Christie, such as reading lists, suggestions on different ways to read the books, a Poison Primer, and an A to Z of characters, CLUES TO CHRISTIE also includes three specimen stories by the Queen of Crime, to introduce her world-famous detectives of Hercule Poirot, Jane Marple and Tommy & Tuppence Beresford, and to help you decide which Agatha Christie books you want to read next.

Table of Contents: “Agatha Christie: An Introduction” by John Curran; The Hercule Poirot Mysteries; “The Affair at the Victory Ball”; The Miss Marple Mysteries; “Greenshaw’s Folly”; The Tommy and Tuppence Mysteries; “A Fairy in the Flat”; Agatha Christie’s Stand-Alone Mysteries and Short-Story Collections; The Queen of Mystery’s Personal Favourites; Ten Other Ways to Read Agatha Christie; “On Agatha Christie and Poisons”; The A to Z of Agatha Christie.

My Take: Regretfully, this short book adds almost nothing to what we can easily find out elsewhere as, for instance: An Autobiography, by Agatha Christie (ebook Harper Collins, 2010); Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries of the Making, by John Curran (ebook Harper Collins, 2010); and Agatha Christie Murder in the Making: More Stories and Secrets from Her Notebooks, by John Curran (ebook Harper Collins, 2011). It also includes three short stories that can be found elsewhere like “The Affair at the Victory Ball” at The Under Dog and Other Stories (1951) and/or at Poirot’s Early Cases (1974), “Greenshaw’s Folly” at The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding and a Selection of Entrées (1960) and/or in Double Sin and Other Stories (1961), “A Fairy in the Flat” at Partners in Crime (1929).

Some general information is also available at the website The Home of Agatha Christie (Agatha Christie’s 10 Favourite Books; and the complete Agatha Christie reading list)

Ultimately, one may wonder to what extent was this book necessary with such pretentious title. Wouldn’t it be better to call it A Brief Introduction to Agatha Christie for Beginners? In any case it was originally distributed free of charge and in some countries is sold very cheap.

Harper Collins UK publicity page

Harper Collins US publicity page

Clues to Christie: The Definitive Guide to Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Tommy & Tuppence and All of Agatha Christie’s Mysteries

Acerca de: El definitivo manual de introducción a Agatha Christie y sus detectives, que incluye historias protagonizadas por Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple y Tommy & Tuppence.

¿Alguna vez se preguntó cómo Agatha Christie se convirtió en la narradora más vendida del mundo? ¿Nunca leíste uno aunque conoces a alguien que le apasiona? ¿Demasiado desconcertado por la selección de libros para saber por dónde empezar? Entonces CLUES TO CHRISTIE podría ser la llave que te abra la puerta a un mundo de misterio, emoción y romance que ha cautivado a lectores de 9 a 90 años durante los últimos 90 años.

Con más de dos mil millones de libros vendidos, Agatha Christie es la novelista más vendida del mundo, traducida a más idiomas que Shakespeare. Y con más de 100 libros y obras de teatro a su nombre, y más de 150 relatos, no sorprende que un tercio de todos los lectores de ficción hayan leído alguna de sus obras, y millones hayan visto sus películas y series de televisión.

Esta muestra exclusiva en formato elecrónico incluye una introducción escrita especialmente por el autor galardonado y principal experto mundial en Agatha Christie, John Curran. Junto con otro material útil y esclarecedor para ayudar a los lectores a navegar por el mundo de Agatha Christie, como listas de lectura, sugerencias sobre diferentes formas de leer los libros, un manual sobre venenos y una lista de personajes de la A a la Z, CLUES TO CHRISTIE también incluye tres ejemplos de relatos de la Reina del Crimen, para presentar a sus detectives mundialmente famosos Hercule Poirot, Jane Marple y Tommy & Tuppence Beresford, y para ayudarle a decidir qué libros de Agatha Christie desea leer a continuación.

Índice: “Agatha Christie: una introducción” por John Curran; Los misterios de Hércules Poirot: “El caso del baile de la victoria”; Los misterios de Miss Marple: “La locura de Greenshaw”; Los misterios de Tommy y Tuppence: “El hada madrina”; las colecciones independientes de misterios y relatos de Agatha Christie; Los libros favoritos de la Reina del Crimen; Otras diez maneras de leer a Agatha Christie; “Sobre Agatha Christie y venenos”; El abcedario de Agatha Christie.

Mi opinión: Lamentablemente, este breve libro no añade casi nada a lo que podemos encontrar fácilmente en otros lugares como, por ejemplo: Autobiografía de Agatha Christie; Agatha Christie. Los cuadernos secretos, de de John Curran; y Agatha Christie. Los planes del crimen, de John Curran. También incluye tres relatos que se pueden encontrar en otros lugares como “El caso del baile de la victoria” en Primeros Casos de Poirot (1974), “La locura de Greenshaw” en Pudding de Navidad (1960) y “El hada madrina” en Matrimonio de sabuesos (1929)

También hay disponible información general en el sitio web The Home of Agatha Christie (Los 10 libros favoritos de Agatha Christie y la lista completa de lectura de Agatha Christie)

En definitiva, cabría preguntarse hasta qué punto era necesario este libro con un título tan pretencioso. ¿No sería mejor llamarlo Una breve introducción a Agatha Christie para principiantes? En cualquier caso, originalmente se distribuía de forma gratuita y en algunos países se vende muy barato.

My Book Notes: The Claverton Affair aka The Claverton Mystery, 1933 (Dr Priestley # 14) by John Rhode

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Mysterious Road Media, 2022. Book Format Kindle Edition: File Size: 4865 KB. Print Length: 277 pages. ASIN: BO9KKR45QD. ISBN: 978-1-5040-7276-2. With an Introduction by Curtis Evans. Originally published in 1933 by Collins The Crime Club in London as The Claverton Mystery and as The Claverton Affair by Dodd, Mead & Company, New York, in 1933.

9781504072762Synopsis: After drifting apart from Sir John Claverton, Dr Lancelot Priestley is finally visiting his old friend for dinner. But Claverton’s situation is worrying. He’s surrounded by relatives, among them a sister who speaks to the dead—but not to him—and a niece who may or may not be a qualified nurse. Based on Claverton’s odd behavior, Priestley and a mutual friend suspect that someone is slipping him arsenic. But when Priestley discovers that Claverton has died just a week later and shares his concerns with the police, no trace of arsenic—or anything else untoward—is found during the autopsy. Still, the perceptive professor can’t shake his sense that something isn’t right, and Claverton’s recently revised will only adds to the mystery . . .

My Take: I would like to share with you the summary and fine review of this book by J F Norris on the pages of Golden Age of Detection Wiki:

An early entry in the series and definitely one of the better books.  Sir John Claverton calls Dr Priestley to his claustrophobic and Gothic home in a part of London that is undergoing vast urban renewal.  When Priestley arrives he is surprised to find the household increased to four – there are three unknown people staying with Calverton.  We later discover they are his niece, nephew and the niece’s mother – an odd woman who dabbles in being a medium.  Claverton tells Priestley a nearly incoherent story about his medicine and how a capsule went missing and that he suspects his butler of tampering with it.  Priestley then hears a story from Dr Olderton, who is caring for his friend, who thinks his patient was being poisoned with arsenic by someone in the house. Exactly two days later Claverton is dead.  A post mortem shows he died of a perforated stomach, but there is no sign of arsenic in his body or the last meal he consumed. Nonetheless, Priestley suspects foul play. The story involves a convoluted will that introduces two more characters, (Mrs. Archer and her daughter Mary) seemingly no relation to Claverton, who receive the bulk of his estate. Who are they? Why would Claverton change his will within a few days of his death to make them his primary heirs? There is a weird séance sequence in which Mrs. Littlecote (the odd aunt) summons the spirit of Claverton and speaking in his voice reveals some secrets of the doctor and alludes to Claverton’s death as a murder. Really the book is chockfull of gripping scenes, is a lively story that rarely drags, compounding mystery upon mystery as Priestley slowly discovers that an ingenious plot (and a fiendish murder method) was concocted to murder Sir John and let the murderer escape almost undetected. The final sequence in which the murderer is forced to confess takes place during yet another séance, but this one with some ghostly surprises concocted by Priestley. (July 2010) J.F. Norris.

I can’t put it better. A superb story, highly recommended.

The Claverton Affair has been reviewed, among others, by Nick Fuller, J.F. Norris and Michael at Golden Age of Detection Wiki, Nick Fuller at The Grandest Game in the World, Richard & Karen La Porte at Mystery File, dfordoom at Vintage Pop Fictions, and Puzzle Doctor at In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel.


(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Collins The Crime Club, London, 1933)


(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Dodd, Mead & Company, New York, 1933)

About The Author: Cecil John Charles Street, MC, OBE, (1884 – 1964), also known as CJC Street and John Street, began his military career as an artillery officer in the British army. During the course of World War I, he became a propagandist for MI7, in which role he held the rank of temp Major. After the armistice, he alternated between Dublin and London during the Irish War of Independence as an Information Officer for Dublin Castle. Street went on to become a prolific writer of detective novels when, in 1924, he published a thriller under the name of John Rhode and, by the end of the decade, he had already established himself as a prime candidate for founder-membership of the Detection Club. Only after his death did it emerge that Miles Burton was also a pen-name for Cecil John Street. And his flair for remaining a man of mystery was underlined when, as late as 2003, it was revealed by the Golden Age expert and researcher Tony Medawar that in the early Thirties Street had also written four obscure mysteries under the name Cecil Waye featuring ‘London’s most famous private detective’, Christopher Perrin.

Between 1924 and 1961 Street published a total of 144 novels, seventy-seven as John Rhode, sixty-three as Miles Burton and four as Cecil Waye. Under the name of John Rhode he produced a long series of novels featuring the forensic scientist Dr Priestley (72 books) and, as Miles Burton, he penned  another long series featuring the investigator Desmond Merrion (61 books). The Dr Priestley novels were among the first after Sherlock Holmes to feature scientific detection of crime, such as analysing the mud on a suspect’s shoes. Desmond Merrion is an amateur detective who works with Scotland Yard’s Inspector Arnold. Under the name of Cecil Waye, Street produced four novels: Murder at Monk’s Barn (1931), The Figure of Eight (1931), The End of the Chase (1932) and The Prime Minister’s Pencil (1933).

Critic and author Julian Symons places this author as a prominent member of the “Humdrum” school of detective fiction. “Most of them came late to writing fiction, and few had much talent for it. They had some skill in constructing puzzles, nothing more, and ironically they fulfilled much better than S. S. Van Dine his dictum that the detective story properly belonged in the category of riddles or crossword puzzles. Most of the Humdrums were British, and among the best known of them were Major Cecil Street, who used the name of John Rhode, ….” Symons’ opinion has not however prevented the Rhode and Burton books becoming much sought after by collectors, and many of the early ones can command high prices. Jacques Barzun and Wendell Hertig Taylor in their A Catalogue of Crime offer a different perspective to Symons, praising several of the Rhode books in particular, though they only review a small proportion of the more than 140 novels written by Street.

Curt Evans has written the only detailed account of Street’s life and works: “I wrote my new book, Masters of the “Humdrum” Mystery: Cecil John Charles Street, Freeman Wills Crofts, Alfred Walter Stewart and the British Detective Novel, 1920–1961 (published by McFarland Press) in part to give a long overdue reappraisal of these purportedly “humdrum” detection writers as accomplished literary artists. Not only did they produce a goodly number of fine fair play puzzles, but their clever tales have more intrinsic interest as social documents and even sometimes as literary novels than they have been credited with having.” (Source: Wikipedia and others)

Bibliography (as John Rhode):

John Rhode’s Bests: The House on Tollard Ridge (1929); The Davidson Case (1929) apa Murder at Bratton Grange; The Claverton Mystery (1933) apa The Claverton Affair; The Venner Crime (1933); The Robthorne Mystery (1934); Poison for One (1934); Shot at Dawn (1934); The Corpse in the Car (1935); Death on the Board (1937) apa Death Sits on the Board;; The Bloody Tower (1938); They Watched by Night (1942); Vegetable Duck (1944); and Death on Harley Street (1946) (Source: Curtis Evans at The Passing Tramp)

Notable Works by John Street writing as John Rhode: The Paddington Mystery (1925); Dr Priestley’s Quest (1926); The Ellerby Case (1927); The Murders in Praed Street (1928); The House on Tollard Ridge (1929); The Davidson Case (1929) apa Murder at Bratton Grange; Peril at Cranbury Hall (1930); Pinehurst (1930) apa Dr. Priestley Investigates; The Hanging Woman (1931); Mystery at Greycombe Farm (1932); Dead Men at the Folly (1932); The Motor Rally Mystery (1933) apa Dr. Priestley Lays a Trap; The Claverton Mystery (1933) apa The Claverton Affair; The Venner Crime (1933); The Robthorne Mystery (1934); Poison for One (1934); Shot at Dawn (1934); The Corpse in the Car (1935); Hendon’s First Case (1935); Mystery at Olympia (1935) apa Murder at the Motor Show; In Face of the Verdict (1936); Death in the Hopfields (1937) apa The Harvest Murder; Death on the Board (1937) apa Death Sits on the Board; Proceed with Caution (1937) apa Body Unidentified; Invisible Weapons (1938); The Bloody Tower (1938) apa The Tower of Evil; Death Pays a Dividend (1939); Death on Sunday (1939) apa The Elm Tree Murder; Death on the Boat Train (1940); Death at the Helm (1941); They Watched by Night (1941) apa Signal For Death; Dead on the Track (1943); Men Die at Cyprus Lodge (1943); Vegetable Duck (1944) apa Too Many Suspects; The Lake House (1946) apa The Secret of the Lake House; Death in Harley Street (1946); The Paper Bag (1948) apa The Links in the Chain; The Telephone Call (1948) apa Shadow of an Alibi; Blackthorn House (1949); In Face of the Verdict (1936); The Two Graphs (1950) apa Double Identities; Family Affairs (1950) apa The Last Suspect; The Secret Meeting (1951); Death at the Dance (1952); Death at the Inn (1953) apa The Case of Forty Thieves; The Dovebury Murders (1954); and Licensed For Murder (1958). (Source: Mainly Curtis Evans at Masters of the “Humdrum” Mystery and others).

Some of these books are very difficult to find, but I do hope Mysterious Press/Open Road Media will soon have more titles available.

John Rhode – Mysterious Press

Mysterious Press publicity page

Open Road Media publicity page

The Life and Times of John Street, aka John Rhode, aka Vintage Mystery’s Master of Murder Means by Curtis Evans

The Eventful Life of Cecil John Charles Street

John Rhode at Golden Age of Detection Wiki

John Rhode and Miles Burton by Mike Grost

The Claverton Affair, de John Rhode

Sinopsis: Tas haberse distanciado de Sir John Claverton, el Dr. Lancelot Priestley finalmente visita a su antiguo amigo para cenar. Pero la situación de Claverton es preocupante. Está rodeado de parientes, entre ellos una hermana que habla con los muertos, pero no con él, y una sobrina que puede ser o no una enfermera titulada. Basándose en el comportamiento extraño de Claverton, Priestley y un amigo en común sospechan que alguien le está envenenando poco a poco con arsénico. Pero cuando Priestley descubre que Claverton murió solo una semana después y comparte sus preocupaciones con la policía, no se encuentra ningún rastro de arsénico, o cualquier otra cosa perjudicial, durante la autopsia. Aún así, el perspicaz profesor no se puede quitar de encima la sensación de que algo no anda bien, y el testamento revisado recientemente de Claverton no hace mas que aumentar el misterio. . .

Mi opinión: Me gustaría compartir con ustedes el resumen y la excelente reseña de este libro de J F Norris en las páginas de Golden Age of Detection Wiki:

Una de la primeras entradas de la serie y definitivamente uno de los mejores libros. Sir John Claverton llama al Dr. Priestley a su casa gótica y claustrofóbica en una parte de Londres que está experimentando un gran cambio urbano. Cuando llega Priestley, se sorprende al descubrir que la familia aumentó en cuatro: hay tres personas desconocidas alojadas con Calverton. Más tarde descubrimos que son su sobrina, su sobrino y la madre de la sobrina, una extraña mujer que se dedica a actuar como médium. Claverton le cuenta a Priestley una historia casi incoherente sobre su medicación y cómo se perdió una cápsula y sospecha que su mayordomo la manipuló. Priestley luego escucha una historia del Dr. Olderton, que se encarga del cuidado de su amigo, quien cree que alguien en la casa ha estado envenenando a su paciente con arsénico. Exactamente dos días después, Claverton muere. La autopsia demuestra que murió de una perforación en el estómago, pero no hay señales de arsénico en su cuerpo ni en la última comida que consumió. No obstante, Priestley sospecha que hay algo turbio. La historia incluye un testamento enrevesado que incorpora a dos personajes más (la Sra. Archer y su hija Mary) aparentemente sin relación alguna con Claverton, quienes reciben la mayor parte de su herencia. ¿Quiénes son? ¿Por qué Claverton cambiaría su testamento pocos días antes de su muerte para hacerlas sus principales herederas? Hay una extraña sesión de espiritismo en la que la Sra. Littlecote (la extraña tía) convoca al espíritu de Claverton y hablando con su voz revela algunos de los secretos del doctor y se refiere a la muerte de Claverton como un asesinato. Realmente, el libro está repleto de escenas apasionantes, es un animado relato que rara vez se alarga innecesariamente, y combina misterio sobre misterio a medida que Priestley descubre lentamente que se urdió una trama ingeniosa (y un método de asesinato diabólico) para asesinar a Sir John y conseguir que el asesino se escape apenas sin ser descubierto. La secuencia final en la que el asesino se ve obligado a confesar tiene lugar durante otra sesión de espiritismo, junto con algunas sorpresas fantasmagórica ideadas por Priestley. (Julio de 2010) JF Norris.

No puedo decirlo mejor. Excelente historia, muy recomendable.

Acerca del autor: Cecil John Charles Street, MC, OBE, (1884 – 1964), también conocido como CJC Street y John Street, comenzó su carrera militar como oficial de artillería en el ejército británico. Durante el transcurso de la Primera Guerra Mundial, se convirtió en propagandista del MI7, en cuyo cargo ocupó el rango de comandante eventual. Después del armisticio, alternó entre Dublín y Londres durante la Guerra de Independencia de Irlanda como Oficial de Información del Castillo de Dublín. Street se convirtió en un prolífico escritor de novelas policíacas cuando, en 1924, publicó un thriller con el nombre de John Rhode y, a finales de la década, ya se había consolidado como firme candidato a miembro fundador del Detection Club. Solo después de su muerte se supo que Miles Burton también era un seudónimo de Cecil John Street. Y su talento por permanecer un hombre de misterio se puso de relieve cuando, en el 2003, el experto e investigador de la Edad de Oro Tony Medawar demostró que a principios de los años treinta también había escrito cuatro misterios oscuros bajo el nombre de Cecil Waye con ‘el detective privado más famoso de Londres’, Christopher Perrin.

Entre 1924 y 1961 Street publicó un total de 144 novelas, setenta y siete como John Rhode, sesenta y tres como Miles Burton y cuatro como Cecil Waye. Bajo el nombre de John Rhode creó una larga serie de novelas protagonizadas por el científico forense Dr. Priestley (72 libros) y, como Miles Burton, escribió otra larga serie protagonizada por el investigador Desmond Merrion (61 libros). Las novelas del Dr. Priestley estuvieron entre las primeras después de Sherlock Holmes en incorporar la investigación científica de los delitos, como el análisis del barro en los zapatos de un sospechoso. Desmond Merrion es un detective aficionado que trabaja con el inspector Arnold de Scotland Yard. Bajo el nombre de Cecil Waye, Street produjo cuatro novelas: Murder at Monk’s Barn (1931), The Figure of Eight (1931), The End of the Chase (1932) y The Prime Minister’s Pencil (1933).

El crítico y autor Julian Symons coloca a este autor como un miembro destacado de la escuela de ficción detectivesca “Hundrum”. “La mayoría de ellos llegó tarde a escribir novelas y pocos tenían mucho talento para ello. Tenían algo de habilidad para construir enigmas, nada más, e irónicamente cumplieron mucho mejor que S. S. Van Dine su máxima de que la historia de detectives pertenecía propiamente a la categoría de adivinanzas o crucigramas. La mayoría de los Humdrums eran británicos, y entre los más conocidos se encontraba Major Cecil Street, que usaba el nombre de John Rhode, ….” Sin embargo, la opinión de Symons no ha impedido que los libros de Rhode y Burton sean muy buscados por coleccionistas, y muchos de los primeros pueden alcanzar precios elevados. Jacques Barzun y Wendell Hertig Taylor en su A Catalog of Crime ofrecen una perspectiva diferente a Symons, elogiando varios de los libros de Rhode en particular, aunque solo reseñan una pequeña proporción de las más de 140 novelas escritas por Street.

Curt Evans ha escrito el único relato detallado de la vida y obra de Street: “Escribí mi nuevo libro, Masters of the” Humdrum “Mystery: Cecil John Charles Street, Freeman Wills Crofts, Alfred Walter Stewart y la novela policíaca británica, 1920-1961 (publicado por McFarland Press) en parte para dar un replanteamiento pendiente desde hace mucho tiempo de estos escritores policiacos aparentemente “rutinarios” como artistas literarios consumados. No solo produjeron un buen número de enigmas de juego limpio, sino que sus historias inteligentes tienen mas un interés intrínseco como documentos sociales e incluso a veces como novelas literarias de lo  que se les atribuye “. (Fuente: Wikipedia y otras)

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