Author: Jose Ignacio

Fielding, A. (?? – ??)

The identity of the author is as much a mystery as the plots of the novels. Two dozen novels were published from 1924 to 1944 as by Archibald Fielding, A. E. Fielding, or Archibald E. Fielding, yet the only clue as to the real author is a comment by the American publishers, H.C. Kinsey Co. that A. E. Fielding was in reality a “middle-aged English woman by the name of Dorothy Feilding whose peacetime address is Sheffield Terrace, Kensington, London, and who enjoys gardening.” Research on the part of John Herrington has uncovered a person by that name living at 2 Sheffield Terrace from 1932-1936. She appears to have moved to Islington in 1937 after which she disappears. To complicate things, some have attributed the authorship to Lady Dorothy Mary Evelyn Moore nee Feilding (1889-1935), however, a grandson of Lady Dorothy denied any family knowledge of such authorship. The archivist at Collins, the British publisher, reports that any records of A. Fielding were presumably lost during WWII. Birthdates have been given variously as 1884, 1889, and 1900. Unless new information comes to light, it would appear that the real authorship must remain a mystery. (Source: Amazon)

Further reading:

  • William F. Deeck’s article on The Charteris Mystery at Mystery*File.
  • Curtis Evans’ article on “A. Fielding”–Queen of Crime? at The Passing Tramp.
  • Curtis Evans’ article on The Case of the Two Pearl Necklaces (1936) at The Passing Tramp.
  • Curtis Evans’ article on A. Fielding and The Eames-Erskine Case (1924) at The Passing Tramp.
  • Steve Lewis’ article on The Net Around Joan Ingilby at Mystery*File.
  • Steve Lewis’ article on The Cautley Conundrum is at Mystery*File.
  • A survey of her detective fiction and their contemporary reviews at Ontos.
  • A bibliography can be found at the Golden Age of Detection Wiki.

Bibliography: The Eames Erskine Case (1924); Deep Currents (1924); The Charteris Mystery (1925); The Footsteps That Stopped (1926); The Clifford Affair (1927); The Cluny Problem (1928); The Net Around Joan Ingilby (1928); Murder at the Nook (1929); The Mysterious Partner (1929); The Craig Poisoning Mystery (1930); The Wedding-Chest Mystery (1930); The Upfold Farm Mystery (1931); Death of John Tait (1932); The Westwood Mystery (1932); The Tall House Mystery (1933); The Cautley Conundrum (1934); The Paper Chase (1934); Tragedy at Beechcroft (1935); The Case of the Missing Diary (1935); The Case of the Two Pearl Necklaces (1936); Mystery at the Rectory (1936); Scarecrow (1937); Black Cats Are Lucky (1937); Murder in Suffolk (1938); and Pointer To A Crime (1944).

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(Facsimile Dust Jacket, Alfred A. Knopf (USA), 1925)

The Eames-Erskine Case, first published in 1925, is a classic British ‘golden-age’ murder mystery, and introduces the character of Scotland Yard’s Chief Inspector Pointer, the first of two dozen novels featuring the Chief Inspector. From the dustjacket: “The publication of this first novel by A. Fielding marks the advent of a new star in the field of mystery-story writing. From the discovery of the strangled, still-warm body of Reginald Eames in a hotel wardrobe, until all of the multitudinous mysteries in connection with the case are finally unraveled in one of the most startling denouements in modern fiction, the author displays the touch of the born writer of mystery stories.”

When the body of a young man is found in the wardrobe of a London hotel it is at first assumed to be a case of suicide by drug overdose. But Chief Inspector Pointer has his doubts. Why, for instance, would the dead man choose to expire in the rather inconvenient confines of a piece of furniture? And who was the dead man, anyway? Soon these and other questions lead Pointer onto the trail of a completely different crime. Written by an author whose identity is as great a mystery as his/her novels. The Eames-Erskine Case is the first of nearly two dozen mysteries from the 1920’s and 1930’s to feature Chief Inspector Pointer. (Goodreads)

The Eames-Erskine Case has been reviewed, among others, by Curtis Evans at The Passing Tramp, and by Kate Jackson aka ArmchairSleuth at CrossExaminingCrime.

Leo Bruce (1903 – 1979)

rupert-croft-cookeRupert Croft-Cooke (30 June 1903 – 10 June 1979) was an English writer, a prolific author of fiction and non-fiction, including screenplays and biographies under his own name and detective stories under the pseudonym of Leo Bruce. Fearing continued persecution in the UK for homosexuality, he spent fifteen years in Morocco.

The son of Hubert Bruce Cooke, of the London Stock Exchange, and his wife Lucy, daughter of Dr Alfred Taylor, Rupert Croft Cooke (he later combined his middle name with his surname) was born on 20 June 1903, in Edenbridge, Kent, and was educated at Tonbridge School and Wellington College (Shropshire). At the age of seventeen, he was working as a private tutor in Paris. He spent 1923 and 1924 in Buenos Aires , where he founded the journal La Estrella. In 1925 he returned to London and began a career as a freelance journalist and writer. His work appeared in a variety of magazines, including New Writing, Adelphi, and the English Review. In the late 1920s the American magazine Poetry published several of his plays. He was also a radio broadcaster on psychology. Having started selling antiquarian books in 1929 (continuing this business until 1931), in 1930 he spent a year in Germany, and in 1931 lectured in English at the Institut Montana Zugerberg in Switzerland. In 1940 he joined the British Army and served in Africa and India until 1946. He later wrote several books about his military experiences. From 1947 to 1953 he was a book reviewer for The Sketch. In 1952 he was one of the last people to be arrested in Britain for homosexuality and he had to spend six months in prison. From 1953 to 1968 he lived in Morocco before moving on to live in a number of other countries, Tunisia, Cyprus, West Germany and Ireland. Croft-Cooke died in 1979 in Bournemouth. He is best known today for the detective stories he wrote under the name of Leo Bruce. His detectives were called Carolus Deene and Sergeant Beef. (Source Wikipedia).

The Man Who Was Leo Bruce (Rupert Croft-Cooke, 1903-1979), by Curt Evans

Even though I posted before about Leo Bruce here, I think it is worthwhile to revisit his life and work once again. 

Bibliography: Sergeant Beef series ((as by Leo Bruce): Case for Three Detectives (1936); Case Without a Corpse (1937); Case With Four Clowns (1939); Case With No Conclusion (1939); Case With Ropes and Rings (1940); Case For Sergeant Beef (1947); Neck and Neck (1951); and Cold Blood (1952).

Carolus Deene series (as by Leo Bruce): At Death’s Door (1955); Dead for a Ducat (1956); Death of Cold (1956); Dead Man’s Shoes (1958); A Louse for the Hangman (1958); Our Jubilee Is Death (1959; Furious Old Women (1960); Jack on the Gallows Tree (1960); A Bone and a Hank of Hair (1961); Die All, Die Merrily (1961); Nothing Like Blood (1962); Crack of Doom (1963) aka Such Is Death; Death in Albert Park (1964); Death at Hallows End (1965); Death on the Black Sands (1966); Death at St. Asprey’s School (1967); Death of a Commuter (1967); Death on Romney Marsh (1968); Death with Blue Ribbon (1969); Death on All Hallowe’en (1970); Death by the Lake (1971); Death in the Middle Watch (1974); Death of a Bovver Boy (1974); Murder in Miniature (1992).

The first Sergeant Beef novel, Case with Three Detectives (1936), is a genre tour de force: a locked room mystery in which appear, under altered names, Hercule Poirot, Lord Peter Wimsey and Father Brown.*  In succession the three Great Detectives offer brilliant solutions to the murder–but they all turn out to be wrong!  It is left to Sergeant Beef to actually solve the case. Croft-Cooke would publish seven more Sergeant Beef detective novels (in the third novel, Beef sets up in private practice as a detective).  None of these sequels attains quite the exalted heights of Case for Three Detectives, but they all are clever and witty fair play mysteries.  Beef and his chronicler Watson, a priggish gent named Townshend (who is always denigrating the subject of his chronicles), are a delightfully humorous duo. …. Croft-Cooke’s first mystery written after his arrest and incarceration in 1953-1954 was At Death’s Door (1955), the first Carolus Deene mystery.  A Sergeant Beef novel was never published after 1952. Sergeant Beef also appeared in ten short stories, originally published in the Evening Standard in the early 1950s and reprinted twenty years ago in Murder in Miniature: The Short Stories of Leo Bruce (edited by Barry Pike), a book that is still in print today. (The Passing Tramp)

Further reading:

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(Facsimile Dust Jacket, Geoffrey Bles Ltd. (UK), 1936)

Possibly the most unusual mystery ever written. A murder is committed, behind closed doors, in bizarre circumstances. Three amateur detectives take the case: Lord Simon Plimsoll, Monsieur Amer Picon, and Monsignor Smith (in whom discerning readers will note likeness to some familiar literary figures). Each arrives at his own brilliant solution, startling in its originality, ironclad in its logic. Meanwhile Sergean Beef sits contemptuously in the background. “But, ” says Sergean Beef, “I know who done it!” (Chicago Review Press)

Case for Three Detectives has been reviewed, among others at ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’ CrossExaminingCrime, gadetection, and At the Scene of the Crime.

Julian Symons (1912 – 1994)

thJulian Gustave Symons (originally Gustave Julian Symons) (30 May 1912 – 19 November 1994) was a British crime writer and poet. He also wrote social and military history, biography and studies of literature. He was born in Clapham, London and died in Walmer, Kent.

Julian Symons was born in London to a Russian or Polish-born father (Alphonse Maurice Brann) and an English mother (Minnie) of French and Spanish antecedents. He was a younger brother, and later the biographer, of writer A. J. A. Symons. He left school at 14. He founded the poetry magazine Twentieth Century Verse in 1937, editing it for two years. “He turned to crime writing in a light–hearted way before the war and soon afterwards established himself as a leading exponent of it, though his use of irony to show the violence behind the respectable masks of society place many of his books on the level of the orthodox novel.” As an early Trotskyist, he applied for recognition as an anti-capitalist conscientious objector in World War II, but was refused by his tribunal. He chose not to appeal, and ended up in the Royal Armoured Corps 1942 to 1944, when he was invalided out with a non-battle-related arm injury. After a period as an advertising copywriter, he became a full-time writer in 1947. During his career he won two Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America and, in 1982, received the MWA’s Grand Master Award. Symons served as the president of the Detection Club from 1976 till 1985.

Symons’s 1972 book Bloody Murder: From the Detective Story to the Crime Novel (published as Mortal Consequences in the US) is one of the best-known critical works in the field of crime fiction. Revised editions were published in 1985, 1992 and finally in 1994. Symons highlighted the distinction between the classic puzzler mystery, associated with such writers as Agatha Christie and John Dickson Carr, and the more modern “crime novel,” which puts emphasis on psychology and motivation.

Symons published over thirty crime novels and story collections between 1945 and 1994. His works combined elements of both the detective story and the crime novel, but leaned clearly toward the latter, with an emphasis on character and psychology which anticipated later crime fiction writers such as Ruth Rendell and P.D. James. His novels tend to focus on ordinary people drawn into a murderous chain of events; the intricate plots are often spiced with black humour. Novels typical of his style include The Colour of Murder (1957), the Edgar-winning The Progress of a Crime (1960), The Man Whose Dreams Came True (1968), The Man Who Lost His Wife (1970) and The Plot Against Roger Ryder (1973). (From Wikipedia). He won two Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America, from 1958 he was chairman of the Crime Writers Association and, from 1976 to 1985, succeeded Agatha Christie as president of the Detection Club.

He [Julian Symons] will probably be best remembered as a critic, but in truth his range was astonishing – he was a poet, biographer and social historian, as well as author of some of the best British crime novels of the post-war era. The End of Solomon Grundy, Progress of a Crime, and (a special favourite of mine for its sheer entertainment value)The Man Whose Dreams Came True, were all excellent, and his other novels were never less than interesting. Some of his books focus on social attitudes, but he had read so widely in the genre that his twisty plotting was of a very high quality. The Plot Against Roger Rider is ingenious, and Sweet Adelaide shows his insight into true crime cases. A very late book, Death’s Darkest Face, was among his finest achievements, although sadly, it has never attracted the attention it deserved. Anyone keen on British crime fiction who is unfamiliar with his work has a real treat in store. (Martin Edwards at ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’)

Further reading: In Praise of… Julian Symons by Xavier Lerchard

Bibliography: The Immaterial Murder Case (1945); A Man Called Jones (1947); Bland Beginning (1949); The Thirty-First of February (1950); The Broken Penny (1953); The Narrowing Circle (1954); The Paper Chase (1956); The Colour of Murder (1957); The Gigantic Shadow (1958); The Progress of a Crime (1960); Murder! Murder! (1961); The Killing of Francie Lake (1962); The End of Solomon Grundy (1964); The Belting Inheritance (1965); Francis Quarles Investigates (1965); The Man Who Killed Himself (1967); The Man Whose Dreams Came True (1968); The Man Who Lost His Wife (1970); The Players and the Game (1972); The Plot Against Roger Rider (1973); A Three Pipe Problem (1975); How to Trap a Crook (1977); The Blackheath Poisonings (1978); Sweet Adelaide (1980); The Great Detectives (1981); The Detling Murders (1982); Tigers in Subtopia (1983); The Name of Annabel Lee (1983); The Criminal Comedy of a Contented Couple (1985); The Kentish Manor Murders (1988); Death’s Darkest Face (1990); Something Like a Love Affair (1992).

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(Facsimile Dust Jacket, Collins The Crime Club (UK, (1957)

John Wilkins meets a beautiful, irresistible girl, and his world is turned upside down. Looking at his wife, and thinking of the girl, everything turns red before his eyes – the colour of murder. But did he really commit the heinous crime he was accused of? Told innovatively in two parts: the psychiatric assessment of Wilkins and the trial for suspected murder on the Brighton seafront, Symons’ award-winning mystery tantalizes the reader with glimpses of the elusive truth and makes a daring exploration of the nature of justice itself. (British Library Crime Classics)

The Colour of Murder was one of the most acclaimed British novels of the 1950s. On publication, it received a rapturous reception from the critics, and it won the prize given by the Crime Writers’ Association for the best crime novel of the year n 1957; then called the Crossed Red Herring prize, it is now known as the CWA Gold Dagger.

At that time, the book seemed highly contemporary, with its focus on the psychological make-up of a man accused of murder. Today, more than sixty years later, it is also of interest in the way it documents British social history. The Colour of Murder remains a crisply written and highly readable novel, with a clever plot, even if it is very different from the cerebral whodunits that were in vogue during the Golden Age of Murder between the world wars. (From Martin Edwards Introduction to the recent issue of The Colour of Murder, British Library Crime Classics, 2019)

The Colour of Murder has been reviewed, among others, at ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’ Books Please, CrossExaminingCrime, Mysteries Ahoy! Crime Review UK, The Invisible Event, In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, and Northern Reader.

Anthony Wynne (1882 – 1963)

OIPCaptain Robert McNair Wilson MB, ChB (22 May 1882 Maryhill, Glasgow – 29 November 1963 New Forest, Hampshire), was a British surgeon, writer and journalist and Liberal Party politician. Wilson was the son of William Wilson and Helen Turner. He was educated at Glasgow Academy and Glasgow University. On 7th December 1905 in Alnwick, Northumberland he married Winifred Paynter. They had three sons. He then married Doris May Fischel. They had two sons. Wilson was House Surgeon Glasgow Western Infirmary. He was Medical Correspondent of the Times from 1914–1942. He also wrote detective fiction under the pseudonym of Anthony Wynne and a novel under the pseudonym Harry Colindale. (Source: Wikipedia)

Under the pseudonym Anthony Wynne, he wrote a series of twenty-seven detective novels between the years 1925 and 1950.  . . . . Anthony Wynne’s detective novels have been out of print for sixty years, but some retain interest today. Along with John Dickson Carr, Wynne was one of the most prominent Golden Age practitioners of the locked room mystery. Unfortunately, his novels often tend to be overly melodramatic, thinly characterized and humorless, no doubt in part explaining their obscurity today. One of the best Anthony Wynne detective novels, Murder of a Lady (The Silver Scale Mystery in the United States), deserves reprinting, however. Set in Scotland, where Wynne himself grew into adulthood, Murder of a Lady benefits from strong atmosphere (with supernatural overtones), some compelling characters and emotional entanglements, a baffling and suspenseful problem and a plausible enough solution. Keep reading here.

Bibliography: The Mystery of the Evil Eye aka The Sign of Evil (1925); The Double-Thirteen Mystery aka The Double Thirteen (1926); The Horseman of Death (1927); The Mystery of the Ashes (1927); Sinners Go Secretly (short stories) (1927); The Dagger (1928); Red Scar (1928); The Fourth Finger (1929); The Room with the Iron Shutters (1929); The Blue Vesuvius (1930); The Yellow Crystal (1930); Murder of a Lady aka The Silver Scale Mystery (1931); The Silver Arrow aka The White Arrow (1931); The Case of the Green Knife aka The Green Knife (1932); The Case of the Red-Haired Girl aka The Cotswold Case (1932); Murder in Thin Air (1932); The Case of the Gold Coins (1933); The Loving Cup aka Death Out of the Night (1933); Death of a Banker (1934);The Holbein Mystery aka The Red Lady (1935); The Toll-House Murder (1935); Death of a Golfer aka Murder in the Morning (1937); Death of a King aka Murder Calls Dr Hailey (1938); Door Nails Never Die (1939); The House on the Hard (1940); Emergency Exit (1941); Murder in a Church (1942); and Death of a Shadow (1950).

Anthony Wynne’s detective novels have been out of print for sixty years, but some retain interest today. (Curtis Evans). However Murder of a Lady aka The Silver Scale Mystery (1931) has been recently rescued from oblivion by The British Library (2016) and Martin Edwards.

Further reading: Now Before You: The Dagger (1928), by Anthony Wynne, Death of a Banker (1934), by Anthony Wynne, with links to other reviews, and gadetection.

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(Facsimile Dust Jacket, Hutchinson (UK), 1931)

Duchlan Castle is a gloomy, forbidding place in the Scottish Highlands. Late one night the body of Mary Gregor, sister of the laird of Duchlan, is found in the castle. She has been stabbed to death in her bedroom – but the room is locked from within and the windows are barred. The only tiny clue to the culprit is a silver fish’s scale, left on the floor next to Mary’s body. Inspector Dundas is dispatched to Duchlan to investigate the case. The Gregor family and their servants are quick – perhaps too quick – to explain that Mary was a kind and charitable woman. Dundas uncovers a more complex truth, and the cruel character of the dead woman continues to pervade the house after her death. Soon further deaths, equally impossible, occur, and the atmosphere grows ever darker. Superstitious locals believe that fish creatures from the nearby waters are responsible; but luckily for Inspector Dundas, the gifted amateur sleuth Eustace Hailey is on the scene, and unravels a more logical solution to this most fiendish of plots. Anthony Wynne wrote some of the best locked-room mysteries from the golden age of British crime fiction. This cunningly plotted novel – one of Wynne’s finest – has never been reprinted since 1931, and is long overdue for rediscovery. (The British Library Crime Classics).

Murder of a Lady has been reviewed, among others, at Mystery*File, Beneath the Stains of Time, ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’, CrossExamingCrime, In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, His Futile Preoccupations …, Northern Reader, The Invisible Event and Vintage Pop Fictions.

Alan Melville (1910 – 1983)

EAMVAlan Melville was a playwright, revue author and lyricist. He wrote no radio plays but some of his stage plays were adapted for radio. Born William Melville Caverhill in Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland, England, he was educated in his home town and then a boarder at the Edinburgh Academy. Leaving school at 17, he started work in the family timber merchants as an apprentice joiner. At the age of 22, he entered an essay competition in John O’Leary’s Weekly with an essay entitled My Perfect Holiday and won the first prize; a return trip to Canada (1934). Soon afterwards he sent the BBC North Region six short stories called The Adventures of the Pink Knight (1934), which were accepted and used on Children’s Hour. He was required to read the stories himself, his first professional engagement. He continued to write from the timber yard, his short stories, poems, manuscripts sometimes being accepted by various publishers. He wrote his first novel, a whodunit called Weekend at Thrackley, which was accepted and published and later made into a film called Hot Ice.

Melville left the timber yard and struggled on his own for a while until he met a composer called George McNeill. Together they turned out number after number, Melville writing the lyrics. In 1936 the BBC offered him a job as a scriptwriter in the variety department in London under Eric Maschwitz at £250 per year. After a three-month training course, he was sent to the Aberdeen radio station as features and drama producer.

In the early part of World War II, he compiled daily instalments of the Robinson Family serial about an ordinary family in London on the BBC’s North American Service. In 1941 he enlisted in the RAF where he reached the rank of Wing Commander. He worked as a war correspondent sending regular dispatches to the BBC. His experience enabled him to write First Tide. He was with the Allied Invasion force of 1944 and took part in the Normandy landings, sending back reports to the BBC; then onto Brussels and in Germany for the surrender. He was sent back to London on embarkation leave, after which he should have gone to the Far East but was kept for an RAF pageant in the Royal Albert Hall, which he scripted and Ralph Reader directed with 1,500 RAF personnel.

During the war years he wrote revues, Sweet and Low, Sweeter and Lower and Sweetest and Lowest, which ran in all for five years at the Ambassadors Theatre. After its success, he was signed up on a five-year contract for London Films by Alexander Korda. Melville’s collaboration with composer Charles Zwar began in 1942 when they wrote Which Witch?” for “Sky High; they continued to work together for some of the numbers in Sweeter and Lower and for all of Sweetest and Lowest.

After the war he wrote plays including Castle in the Air (1949; filmed in 1952), Full Circle (1952, previously Dear Charles and adapted from Les Enfants d’Edouard by Marc-Gilbert Sauvajon and Frederick J. Jackson), Simon and Laura 1954, which was later made into a film in 1955, and the book and lyrics for the musical Gay’s the Word (1950, music by Ivor Novello). The musical premiered at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, England, on 17 October 1950. It transferred to the Saville Theatre in London, opening there on 16 February 1951, where it ran for 504 performances and starred Cicely Courtneidge, Lizbeth Webb and Thorley Walters.

In 1951, Melville wrote the musical Bet Your Life, with music by Kenneth Leslie Smith and Charles Zwar and starring Arthur Askey and Julie Wilson. A few years later he wrote the musical Marigold based on the play by Francis R. Pryor and L Allen Harker; the score was composed by Charles Zwar and it starred Jean Kent, Sally Smith, Sophie Stewart and Jeremy Brett.

Alan Melville became one of Britain’s first television stars. He became chairman of The Brains Trust and a panelist in What’s My Line? He wrote and appeared in many television programmes, among them A to Z, which ran for two years (1957–58) and played host to more than 400 guests including Bob Hope, Phil Silvers, John Dankworth and Dame Edith Evans.

Merely Melville, one of his television programmes, he used as a title for his autobiography. He took the leading role from Ian Carmichael in the play Gazebo at the Savoy Theatre. Moira Lister was his co-star.

He moved to Brighton in 1951 and died at the age of 73 in December 1983 at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, where he had been a patient since November. He was cremated in the Downs Crematorium, Brighton, on 12 January 1984. (Source: Wikipedia)

As Martin Edwards has written in the Introduction to the latest reissues of Melville’s novels by British Library Publishing, ‘ … his detective novels, written in a short burst of energy when he was in his twenties, do not deserve the total neglect into which they have fallen. They are dated, but they possess a certain charm. The British Library’s revival of  his books [Quick Curtain, Death of Anton and Weekend at Thrackley] offers a new generation a chance to appreciate the work of a writer with a genuine talent to amuse.’

Bibliography: Weekend at Thrackley (London, Skeffington & Son, 1934. Re-published British Library Publishing Division, 2018); Quick Curtain (London, Skeffington & Son, 1934. Re-published British Library Publishing Division, 2015,); The Vicar in Hell (London, Skeffington & Son, 1935); Death of Anton (London, Skeffington & Son, 1936. Re-published British Library Crime Series, 2015,); and Warning to Critics aka The Critic on the Hearth (1936).

Quick Curtain by Alan Melville very definitely counted as a Forgotten Book, at least until a few weeks ago [7 August 2015], when it reappeared in the British Library’s Crime Classics series. Originally published in 1934 by Skeffington, it was one of a handful of books that Melville dashed off as a young man in the Thirties, before making his name as a wit and broadcaster. (Martin Edwards at ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’)

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(Facsimile Dust Jacket, Skeffington & Son, Ltd. (UK), 1934)

The author, Alan Melville, was a successful playwright and man of the theatre, and he uses his knowledge of backstage life to good effect in this breezy whodunit. The slender plot revolves around the shooting of the leading man, but when the show opens at the Grosvenor Theatre to a packed house, Brandon Baker is killed by a real bullet. When another member of the company is found dead, initial appearances suggest a straightforward case of murder followed by suicide. But there is, of course, more to it than that.

The audience includes Inspector Wilson of Scotland Yard and his son, an enthusiastic young reporter, making an amusing variant on the Holmes–Watson pairing of sleuth and sidekick! The British Library’s revival of this book offers a new generation a chance to appreciate the work of a writer with a genuine talent to amuse. (Source: British Library)

Quick Curtain has been reviewed, among others, at ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’, crossexaminingcrime, Mysteries Ahoy! Shiny New Books, Fell From Fiction and The Invisible Event.

Even though Quick Curtain has not received as enthusiastic reviews as Death of Anton, my impression is that it is worth reading. Stay tuned.