Category: Cyril Hare

Cyril Hare (1900 – 1958)

OIPCyril Hare was the pseudonym for the distinguished lawyer Alfred Alexander Gordon Clark. He was born in Surrey, in 1900, and was educated at Rugby and Oxford. A member of the Inner Temple, he was called to the Bar in 1924 and joined the chambers of Roland Oliver, who handled many of the great crime cases of the 1920s. He practised as a barrister until the Second World War, after which he served in various legal and judicial capacities including a time as a county court judge in Surrey.

Hare’s crime novels, many of which draw on his legal experience, have been praised by Elizabeth Bowen and P.D. James among others. He died in 1958 – at the peak of his career as a judge, and at the height of his powers as a master of the whodunit. (Source: faber.co.uk)

For additional information click here at Martin Edwards website.

Bibliography: Tenant for Death (1937); Death is No Sportsman (1938); Suicide Excepted (1939); Tragedy at Law (1942); With a Bare Bodkin (1946); When the Wind Blows aka The Wind Blows Death (1949); An English Murder aka The Christmas Murder (1951); That Yew Tree’s Shade aka Death Walks the Woods (1954); He Should Have Died Hereafter aka Untimely Death (1958); and Best Detective Stories aka Death Among Friends (1959)

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(Facsimile Dust Jacket, Faber & Faber Limited (UK), 1939)

Synopsis: An Inspector Mallett mystery, originally published in 1939, by one of the best-loved Golden Age crime writers, Cyril Hare. Inspector Mallett’s stay at the country house hotel of Pendlebury Old Hall has been a disappointment. Room, food and service have been a letdown and he eagerly anticipates the end of his holiday. His last trial is to sit and listen when an elderly and boorish man, whose family once owned the house, joins his table. The next day the man is dead and Mallett unwittingly finds himself investigating the suspicious ‘suicide’. ‘Adroit in its manipulation …and distinguished by a plot-twister which I’ll wager Christie wishes she’d thought of’ – “New York Times”. ‘Mr. Hare’s controlled ingenuity and lively, sardonic characterization put “Suicide Excepted” in a very high class’ – “Observer”. (Source: Amazon)

Suicide Excepted has been reviewed, among others, at My Reader’s Block, Countdown John’s Christie Journal, Cross Examining Crime, and Bedford Bookshelf. With these recommendations, you can’t be wrong. Stay tuned.

My Book Notes: Tragedy at Law, 1942 (Francis Pettigrew #1 & Inspector Mallet #4) by Cyril Hare

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Faber & Faber, 2011. Book Format: Kindle edition. File Size: 698 KB. Print Length: 288 pages. ASIN: B006ZLY24S. ISBN: 978-0-571288-76-2. First published by Faber & Faber in 1942.

Note to the reader: The courts of assize – commonly known as the assizes – were courts held in the main county towns and presided over by visiting judges from the higher courts based in London. Since the 12th century England and Wales had been divided into six judicial circuits which were the geographical areas covered by visiting judges. This system of holding local assizes at the principal towns of each county remained the chief feature of the English system of justice until it was radically reformed in 1971. At the assize courts judges conducted trials dealing with serious offenders such as murderers, burglars, highwaymen, rapists, forgers and others who came within the scope of capital crime. Court verdicts were returned by locally picked juries of 12. The assizes also dealt with civil disputes, such as entitlement to land or money. From the early 20th century they began to deal with divorce cases which had previously been restricted to the central courts in London. (Source: www.parliament.uk)

17224.books.origjpgFirst Paragraph: “No trumpeters!” said his Lordship in a tone of melancholy and slightly peevish disapproval.

Book Description: Tragedy at Law follows a rather self-important High Court judge, Mr Justice Barber, as he moves from town to town presiding over cases in the Southern England circuit. When an anonymous letter arrives for Barber, warning of imminent revenge, he dismisses it as the work of a harmless lunatic. But then a second letter appears, followed by a poisoned box of the judge’s favourite chocolates, and he begins to fear for his life. Enter barrister and amateur detective Francis Pettigrew, a man who was once in love with Barber’s wife and has never quite succeeded in his profession – can he find out who is threatening Barber before it is too late?

My take: It can be argued that Tragedy at Law is divided in two quite different parts. In the first part, the reader follows a series of incidents that take place while the Honourable Sir William Barber, one of the Justices of the High Court of Justice, is on tour through the Southern Circuit together with his entourage, as a visiting magistrate. The year is 1939 and the II World War has just begun. Everything seems to run smoothly at first, but everything turned out ill. On the second day of the assize, Justice Barber receives a threatening unsigned letter, and that very night Barber himself gets involved in a car accident while driving a little drunk. Things would not have worsened if it where not for the fact that the car insurance had expired. To make matters worse, he has run over a pedestrian who, as a result of the accident, loses one of his fingers. The pedestrian in question turns out to be a famous pianist, and now Judge Barber may have to cope with a heavy economic compensation that could spell his ruin. Besides, Judge Barber escapes two attacks on his life. The first one with a box of poisoned chocolates, the second one night when someone leaves the gas stove of his room poorly closed. His wife, Lady Barber, after   joining him in the circuit, is also attacked by a stranger who couldn’t be identified. Lady Barber strongly believes someone is trying to kill her husband. All these cases are linked together and are by no means fortuitous.

The second part takes place some months later, when Judge Barber and his wife are back in London. The threats against him seems to have faded, but he might be forced to resign his position, if he fails to settle an agreement with the pianist who saw his career dashed, to avoid the scandal.

Cyril Hare used his own experiences as county judge to write this novel set during the first days of World War II. The book provides a funny and satirical view of the legal profession. The plot turns out being rather ingenious and the denouement is unexpected. The story has a very much unique structure; the murder happens when the novel is about to come to an end. However, the author manages to keep the reader’s attention until the last pages. The characters, though they  seem fairly eccentric, so to speak, are nicely drawn. This is the last book in the series with Inspector Mallet and the first book featuring a new character, Francis Pettigrew, who will return in four other books and in some short stories. I found the reading fascinating and highly entertaining. After all I studied law. I have read before Tenant for Death and this won’t be the last of Cyril Hare’s books and short stories I look forward to reading. Highly recommended.

My Rating: A ( I loved it)

Tragedy at Law has been reviewed at A Penguin a week, My Reader’s Block, Past Offences, Crime Scraps Review, In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, Do You Write Under Your Own Name?, gadetection, among others.

About the Author: Alfred Alexander Gordon Clark (4 September 1900 – 25 August 1958) was an English judge and crime writer under the pseudonym Cyril Hare. Gordon Clark’s pseudonym was a mixture of Hare Court, where he worked in the chambers of Roland Oliver, and Cyril Mansions, Battersea, where he lived after marrying Mary Barbara Lawrence (see Lawrence baronets, Ealing Park) in 1933. They had one son, Charles Philip Gordon Clark (clergyman, later dry stone waller), and two daughters, Alexandra Mary Gordon Clark (Lady Wedgwood FSA, architectural historian, see Wedgwood baronets) and Cecilia Mary Gordon Clark (Cecilia Snell, musician, who married Roderick Snell). As a young man and during the early days of the Second World War, Gordon Clark toured as a judge’s marshal, an experience he used in Tragedy at Law. Between 1942 and 1945 he worked at the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. At the beginning of the war he served a short time at the Ministry of Economic Warfare, and the wartime civil service with many temporary members appears in With a Bare Bodkin. In 1950 he was appointed county court judge in Surrey. His best-known novel is Tragedy at Law, in which he drew on his legal expertise and in which he introduced Francis Pettigrew, a not very successful barrister who in this and four other novels just happens to elucidate aspects of the crime. His professional detective (they appeared together in three novels, and only one has neither of them present) was a large and realistic police officer, Inspector Mallett, with a vast appetite. Tragedy at Law has never been out of print, and Marcel Berlins described it in 1999 as “still among the best whodunnits set in the legal world.” P. D. James went further and wrote that it “is generally acknowledged to be the best detective story set in that fascinating world.” Of his other full-length novels, Suicide Excepted shows a man committing an almost perfect murder, only to find that a quirk of the insurance laws deprives him of the reward. (Source: Wikipedia)

Faber & Faber publicity page 

Detection and the Law: An Appreciation of Cyril Hare 

Mallett & Pettigrew

audible

Tragedia en la justicia, de Cyril Hare

tragedia-en-la-justicia-cyril-hareNota al lector: Los tribunales de justicia –popularmente conocidos como los assizes– eran tribunales organizados en las principales ciudades de los condados y presididos por jueces visitantes de los tribunales superiores con sede en Londres. Desde el siglo XII, Inglaterra y Gales se habían dividido en seis circuitos judiciales, que eran las áreas geográficas cubiertas por los jueces visitantes. Este sistema de organizar tribunales locales en las principales ciudades de cada condado siguió siendo la característica principal del sistema judicial inglés hasta que fue radicalmente reformado en 1971. En estos tribunales, los jueces tramitaban juicios relacionados con autores de delitos graves, como asesinos, ladrones, bandoleros, violadores, falsificadores y otros que entraban en el ámbito de los delitos capitales. Las sentencias judiciales eran emitidas por jurados de 12 personas elegidas localmente. Estos tribunales también abordaban disputas civiles, tales como la titularidad de tierras o dinero. Desde principios del siglo XX comenzaron a ocuparse de demandas de divorcio que anteriormente estaban reservadas a los tribunales centrales de Londres. (Fuente: www.parliament.uk) [Mi traducción libre].

Párrafo inicial: Primer párrafo: “¡No hay trompetas!” dijo su señoría en tono de desaprobación triste y ligeramente malhumorado.

Descripción del libro: Las amenazas se ciernen sobre un alto dignatario de la Corte de justicia y su vida corre serio peligro. ¿Quién deseaba la muerte del juez Barber? Acaso Pettigrew, su enconado rival? Baemish, el secretario?, Hilda, su exquisita esposa? o Happenstall, el ex convicto? El imprevisto y verosímil final sorprenderá al lector.

Mi opinión: Se puede argumentar que Tragedia en la justicia se divide en dos partes muy diferentes. En la primera parte, el lector sigue una serie de incidentes que tienen lugar mientras el Honorable Sir William Barber, uno de los jueces del Tribunal Superior de Justicia, está de gira por el Circuito Sur junto con su séquito, como magistrado visitante. El año es 1939 y la II Guerra Mundial acaba de comenzar. Todo parece funcionar sin problemas al principio, pero todo salió mal. El segundo día del juicio, el juez Barber recibe una carta amenazadora sin firmar, y esa misma noche, el propio Barber se ve involucrado en un accidente automovilístico mientras conduce un poco borracho. Las cosas no habrían empeorado si no fuera por el hecho de que el seguro del automóvil había expirado. Para empeorar las cosas, ha atropellado a un peatón que, como resultado del accidente, pierde uno de sus dedos. El peatón en cuestión resulta ser un famoso pianista, y ahora el juez Barber puede tener que hacer frente a una fuerte compensación económica que podría significar su ruina. Además, el juez Barber escapa de dos ataques contra su vida. El primero con una caja de bombones envenenados, el segundo una noche cuando alguien deja la estufa de gas de su habitación mal cerrada. Su esposa, Lady Barber, después de unirse a él en el circuito, también es atacada por un extraño que no pudo ser identificado. Lady Barber cree firmemente que alguien está tratando de matar a su esposo. Todos estos casos están relacionados entre sí y de ninguna manera son fortuitos.

La segunda parte tiene lugar algunos meses después, cuando el juez Barber y su esposa están de regreso en Londres. Las amenazas contra él parecen haberse desvanecido, pero podría verse obligado a renunciar a su cargo, si no logra llegar a un acuerdo con el pianista que vio su carrera arruinada, para evitar el escándalo.

Cyril Hare usó sus propias experiencias como juez de condado para escribir esta novela ambientada durante los primeros días de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. El libro ofrece una visión divertida y satírica de la profesión jurídica. La trama resulta bastante ingeniosa y el desenlace es inesperado. La historia tiene una estructura muy singular; el asesinato ocurre cuando la novela está a punto de terminar. Sin embargo, el autor logra mantener la atención del lector hasta las últimas páginas. Los personajes, aunque parecen bastante excéntricos, por así decirlo, están muy bien dibujados. Este es el último libro de la serie con el Inspector Mallet y el primer libro con un nuevo personaje, Francis Pettigrew, quien regresará en otros cuatro libros y en algunas historias cortas. La lectura me pareció fascinante y muy entretenida. Después de todo, estudié derecho. He leído antes Huésped para la muerte y este no será el último de los libros y relatos de Cyril Hare que espero leer. Muy recomendable.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Sobre el autor: Cyril Hare (1900-1958) – seudónimo de Alfred Alexander Gordon Clark escritor británico de libros de misterio, abogado y juez en Surrey. Estudió en el New College, Oxford, y ejerció en los tribunales civiles y penales en Londres y sus alrededores. En 1942 comenzó a trabajar como Temporary Legal Assistant en el Director of Public Prosecutions Department, y a continuación, en el Ministerio de Economía de Guerra. Desde 1950 fue Juez de la Corte del Condado de Surrey.

The Justice Game

Martin Edwards , in his excellent The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books, devotes Chapter 15 to ‘The Justice Game’ where he examines the following books:

Trial an Error, 1937 by Anthony Berkeley (Arcturus, 2013)

19028568Synopsis: Non-descript, upstanding Mr Todhunter is told that he has only months to live. He decides to commit a murder for the good of mankind. Finding a worthy victim proves far from easy, and there is a false start before he settles on and dispatches his target. But then the police arrest an innocent man, and the honourable Todhunter has to set about proving himself guilty of the murder. Beautifully presented with striking artwork and stylish yet easy-to-read type, avid readers of crime will love reading this gripping, well-written thriller. The appetite for traditional crime fiction has never been stronger, and Arcturus Crime Classics aim to introduce a new generation of readers to some of the great crime writing of the 20th century – especially the so-called ‘golden era’.

About the Author: Anthony Berkeley Cox (1893 – 1971) aka Francis Iles, A Monmouth Platts. A journalist as well as a novelist, Anthony Berkeley was a founding member of the Detection Club and one of crime fiction’s greatest innovators. He was one of the first to predict the development of the ‘psychological’ crime novel and he sometimes wrote under the pseudonym of Francis Iles. He wrote twenty-four novels, ten of which feature his amateur detective, Roger Sheringham.

Verdict of Twelve, 1940 by Raymond Postgate (British Library Publishing, 2017)

32602747._SX318_Synopsis: A woman is on trial for her life, accused of murder. The twelve members of the jury each carry their own secret burden of guilt and prejudice which could affect the outcome. In this extraordinary crime novel, we follow the trial through the eyes of the jurors as they hear the evidence and try to reach a unanimous verdict. Will they find the defendant guilty, or not guilty? And will the jurors’ decision be the correct one? Since its first publication in 1940, Verdict of Twelve has been widely hailed as a classic of British crime writing. This edition offers a new generation of readers the chance to find out why so many leading commentators have admired the novel for so long.

About the Author: Raymond Postgate (1896 – 1971) was born in Cambridge, the eldest son of the classical scholar Professor J.P. Postgate. He was educated at St. John’s College, Oxford. During the First World War he was a conscientious objector and was jailed for two weeks in 1916. He married Daisy Lansbury, the daughter of George Lansbury, pacifist and leader of the Labour Party. His career in journalism started in 1918 and he worked for several Left-wing periodicals. He was also Departmental Editor of the Encyclopaedia Britannica for its 1929 edition.

Tragedy at Law, 1942 by Cyril Hare (Faber & Faber, 2011)

51n-SBMe9fLSynopsis: Tragedy at Law follows a rather self-important High Court judge, Mr Justice Barber, as he moves from town to town presiding over cases in the Southern England circuit. When an anonymous letter arrives for Barber, warning of imminent revenge, he dismisses it as the work of a harmless lunatic. But then a second letter appears, followed by a poisoned box of the judge’s favourite chocolates, and he begins to fear for his life. Enter barrister and amateur detective Francis Pettigrew, a man who was once in love with Barber’s wife and has never quite succeeded in his profession – can he find out who is threatening Barber before it is too late?

About the Author: Cyril Hare was the pseudonym of Judge Gordon Clark (1900 – 1958) . Born at Mickleham near Dorking, he was educated at Rugby and New College, Oxford. At the bar his practice was largely in the criminal courts. During the Second World War he was on the staff of the Director of Public Prosecutions; but later, as a County Court judge, his work concerned civil disputes only – and his sole connection with crime was through his fiction. He turned to writing detective stories at the age of thirty-six and some of his first short stories were published in Punch. Hare went on to write a series of detective novels.

Smallbone Deceased, 1950 by Michael Gilbert (British Library Publishing, 2019)

45998455._SY475_Synopsis: Horniman, Birley and Craine is a highly respected legal firm with clients drawn from the highest in the land. When a deed box in the office is opened to reveal a corpse, the threat of scandal promises to wreak havoc on the firm’s reputation—especially as the murder looks like an inside job. The partners and staff of the firm keep a watchful and suspicious eye on their colleagues, as Inspector Hazlerigg sets out to solve the mystery of who Mr. Smallbone was—and why he had to die. Written with style, pace, and wit, this is a masterpiece by one of the finest writers of traditional British crime novels since the Second World War.

About the Author: Born in Lincolnshire, Michael Francis Gilbert (1912 – 2006) was educated in Sussex before entering the University of London where he gained an LLB with honours in 1937. Gilbert was a founding member of the British Crime Writers Association, and in 1988 he was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America – an achievement many thought long overdue. He won the Life Achievement Anthony Award at the 1990 Boucheron in London, and in 1980 he was knighted as a Commander in the Order of the British Empire. Gilbert made his debut in 1947 with Close Quarters, and since then has become recognized as one of our most versatile British mystery writers.

Now I’m reading Smallbone Deceased and I look forward to reading soon the other three. Stay tuned.

My Book Notes: Tenant for Death, 1937 (Inspector Mallet #1) by Cyril Hare

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Reading Essentials, 2018. Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 252 KB. Print Length: 201 pages. ASIN: B07L4B2295. ISBN: 9781773231310.

41ZhqAeoUfL._SY346_Opening Paragraph: Daylesford Gardens, S.W., is one of those addresses that make the most experienced of taxi-drivers hesitate for a moment or two when you give it. Not that he will have any difficulty in determining its general direction, which is in that quiet and respectable region where South Kensington borders on Chelsea. The trouble arises from the lack of imagination displayed by the building syndicate which first laid out the Daylesford estate some time in the middle of the last century. For besides Daylesford Gardens, there are Daylesford Terrace, Daylesford Square, Upper and Lower Daylesford Streets, not to mention a tall, raw red-brick block of flats known as Daylesford Court Mansions and two or three new and almost smart little houses which still keep the name of Daylesford Mews. The houses in Daylesford Gardens, however, are neither raw, tall, nor red-brick, nor new, nor anything approaching smart. On the contrary, they are squat, yellow and elderly, bearing on their monotonous three-storied fronts the same dingy livery of stucco, drab but –with an effort– respectable. One or two have sunk so far as to become boarding-houses, several maybe suspected of paying guests, but for the most part they still contrive to carry on the unequal warfare against adverse circumstances and keep the banner of gentility flying. 

Synopsis: First published in 1937 by Faber in London, Tenant for Death was the debut crime novel by ‘Cyril Hare’, pen name of Alfred Alexander Gordon Clark. Two young estate agent’s clerks are sent to check an inventory on a house in Daylesford Gardens, South Kensington. Upon arrival, they find an unlisted item – a corpse. Furthermore, the mysterious tenant, Colin James, has disappeared. In a tale which uncovers many of the seedier aspects of the world of high finance, Hare also introduces his readers to the formidable Inspector Mallett of Scotland Yard. Upon first publication the Times Literary Supplement praised Tenant for Death as ‘a most ingenious story’ while the Spectator celebrated its ‘wit, fair play, and characterization’ and also declared that ‘a new star has risen’.

My take: The story, set mainly in London at the end of the thirties, elapses between Friday 14 and Wednesday 25 November. After the presentation of several characters that will play a role later on, the action begins on Monday 16 November when Harper and Browne, two young clerks of a real estate agency, are sent to make an inventory on number 27 Daylesford Gardens. The furnished lease agreement expires tomorrow but the tenant, one Colin James, seems to have vacated the house before its ending. Much to their surprise, they find something that is not part of the inventory, a dead body. The body belongs to Lionel Ballantine, a successful business tycoon who, in a short space of time, had risen from nothing to a position of genuine importance and power as head of The London and Imperial Estates Company Ltd., and its eleven associated companies known as The Twelve Apostles at London Stock Exchange. Mr Ballantine had not been seen since he left his office late on Friday and the Monday papers front pages bring the news of his disappearance. Rumour has it that Ballantine’s companies are in serious financial difficulties. Colin James, the former tenant on Daylesford Gardens, has disappeared without leaving any trace, and he becomes the main suspect. A newspaper seller at the end of the street, claims to have seen him entering the house with a visitor last Friday night and departing alone an hour later. Ballantine was strangled and, more likely, he’s been dead over two or three days. Inspector Mallet, with the assistance of Sergeant Frant, takes charge of the investigation. Everything seems to indicate that the murder was carefully planned well in advance, which is confirmed when the real Colin James shows up and it can be demonstrate someone impersonated him. What follows is a long list of suspects. Crabtree, Mr James’ manservant, has also disappeared; Harper, the young man who found the body, has unexpectedly access a certain amount of money;  John Fanshawe, from Fanshawe Bank, has just finished serving a four years sentence and, during his trial, he threatened to kill Ballantine accusing him of the intrigues that led him to ruin; Captain Eales, whose wife was his mistress; Mrs Eales herself, heavily in debt because of her excesses and vagaries; Ballantine’s wife, who even if used to his infidelities, might have thought she had had enough; and this is not to mention a certain Du Pine, secretary to The London and Imperial Estates Company Ltd., who might have his own agenda.

What prompted me to read this book was that several of Cyril Hare’s books are Recommended Reading for the 2019 edition of Bodies From The Library and most of them are easily available in Kindle format at very good  prices. Consequently, I equipped myself with several books and I look forward to reading them all in the near future. Tenant for Death was Hare’s first published book and the author offers us an excellent portrait of London before the Second World War, and strong characterization. The novel is extremely well-written and the plot is really engaging. Contrary to some reviewers that believe Inspector Mallet is made in the image of Inspector Maigret, in my view Mallet, though a Scotland Yard police inspector he’s much closer to Hercule Poirot. Frankly I was not able to uncover the mystery before the end. All in all the story is very well crafted and Hare proves to have a fine sense of humour. Highly recommended.

Tenant for Death has been reviewed at Mystery File, gadetection, and crossexaminingcrime. Besides Bitter Tea and Mystery and Past Offences have also devoted a blog entry to Cyril Hare.

My Rating: A ( I loved it)

About the Author: Cyril Hare was the pen name used by Alfred Alexander Gordon Clark for the series of detection fiction novels and short stories published between 1937 and 1958. Born at Mickleham near Dorking in 1900, Gordon Clark was educated at St Aubyn’s, Rottingdean and Rugby. He read History at New College, Oxford and graduated with first class honours degree. He then studied law and was called to the Bar at Middle Temple in 1924. Gordon Clark’s pseudonym was a mixture of Hare Court, where he worked in the chambers of Roland Oliver, and Cyril Mansions, Battersea, where he lived after marrying Mary Barbara Lawrence (daughter of Sir William Lawrence, 3rd Baronet) in 1933. They had one son and two daughters. Cyril Hare became a published author in 1937 when Tenant for Death the first book in Inspector Mallett series was released. As a young man and during the early days of the Second World War, Gordon Clark toured as a judge’s marshal, an experience he used in Tragedy at Law (1942). Between 1942 and 1945 he worked at the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. At the beginning of the war he served a short time at the Ministry of Economic Warfare, and the wartime civil service with many temporary members appears in With a Bare Bodkin (1946). In 1950 he was appointed county court judge in Surrey. His best-known novel, Tragedy at Law, has never been out of print, and Marcel Berlins described it in 1999 as “still among the best whodunnits set in the legal world.” P. D. James went further and wrote that it “is generally acknowledged to be the best detective story set in that fascinating world.” It appeared at no. 85 in The Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time. He was a member of the Detection Club. Having suffered from tuberculosis shortly after the Second World War Gordon Clark was never again in full health and died at his home near Box Hill, Surrey in 1958, age 57. (Source: Compilation based on Wikipedia)

Works:

  • Tenant for Death, 1937 (Inspector Mallet)
  • Death is No Sportsman, 1938 (Inspector Mallet)
  • Suicide Excepted, 1939 (Inspector Mallet)
  • Tragedy at Law, 1942 (Inspector Mallet & Francis Pettigrew)
  • With a Bare Bodkin, 1946 (Francis Pettigrew)
  • When the Wind Blows (published in the US as The Wind Blows Death), 1949 (Francis Pettigrew)
  • An English Murder (published in the US as The Christmas Murder), 1951 (Standalone)
  • That Yew Tree’s Shade (published in the US as Death Walks the Woods), 1954 (Francis Pettigrew)
  • He Should Have Died Hereafter (published in the US as Untimely Death), 1958 (Inspector Mallet & Francis Pettigrew)
  • Best Detective Stories of Cyril Hare (apa Death Among Friends), 1959 (Short story collection)

Detection and the Law: An Appreciation of Cyril Hare 

Cyril Hare Explained

Huésped para la muerte (aka El inquilino de la muerte), de Cyril Hare

Primer párrafo: Daylesford Gardens, S.W., es una de esas direcciones que hacen que los taxistas más experimentados vacilen un momento o dos cuando se las dan. No es que les resulte difícil determinar su dirección aproximada, que se encuentra en esa región tranquila y respetable donde South Kensington limita con Chelsea. El problema deriva de la falta de imaginación mostrada por la promotora inmobiliaria que inicialmente diseñó la propiedad Daylesford en algún momento a mediados del siglo pasado. Además de Daylesford Gardens, existen Daylesford Terrace, Daylesford Square, Upper y Lower Daylesford Streets, por no hablar de un bloque de pisos altos y básicos de ladrillo rojo conocido como Daylesford Court Mansions y dos o tres  nuevas y casi elegantes casitas que aún mantiene el nombre de Daylesford Mews. Las casas en Daylesford Gardens, sin embargo, no son básicas, altas, ni de ladrillo rojo, ni nuevas, ni nada que se acerque a elegante. Por el contrario, son bajitas, amarillentas y viejas, mostrando en sus monótonas fachadas de tres pisos, el mismo deslustrado diseño de estuco, anodino pero –con esfuerzo– respetable. Una o dos han decaido hasta convertirse en casas de huéspedes, y varias son sospechosas de tener inquilinos de pago, pero en su mayoría todavía consiguen salir airosoas de un desigual combate contra la adversidad y todavía mantienen ondeando la bandera de la distinción.

Sinopsis: Editada originalmente en 1937 por Faber en Londres, Huésped para la muerte fue la primera novela policíaca de ‘Cyril Hare’, seudónimo de Alfred Alexander Gordon Clark. Dos jóvenes empleados de una agencia inmobiliaria son enviados a comprobar el inventario de una casa en Daylesford Gardens, South Kensington. A su llegada, encuentran un objeto que no está en el inventario – un cadáver. Además, el misterioso inquilino, Colin James, ha desaparecido. En una novela que descubre muchos de los aspectos más desagradables del mundo de las altas finanzas, Hare también presenta a sus lectores al formidable inspector Mallett de Scotland Yard. Tras su publicación inicial, el Times Literary Supplement elogió a Huésped para la muerte como “una historia de lo más ingeniosa”, mientras que el Spectator celebró su “ingenio, juego limpio y caracterización” y manifestó así mismo que “habia aparecido una nueva estrella”.

Mi opinión: La historia, ambientada principalmente en Londres a finales de los años treinta, transcurre entre el viernes 14 y el miércoles 25 de noviembre. Después de la presentación de varios personajes que jugarán un papel más adelante, la acción comienza el lunes 16 de noviembre cuando Harper y Browne, dos jóvenes empleados de una agencia inmobiliaria, son enviados a hacer el inventario del número 27 de Daylesford Gardens. El contrato de arrendamiento amueblado expira mañana, pero el inquilino, un tal Colin James, parece haber abandonado la casa antes de su finalización. Para su sorpresa, encuentran algo que no forma parte del inventario, un cadáver. El cuerpo pertenece a Lionel Ballantine, un exitoso magnate de los negocios que, en un corto espacio de tiempo, se había elevado de la nada a una posición de genuina importancia y poder como director de The London e Imperial Estates Company Ltd., y sus once empresas asociadas conocidas como los doce apóstoles en la bolsa de Londres. El señor Ballantine no había sido visto desde que salió de su oficina a última hora del viernes y las primeras páginas de los periódicos del lunes traen la noticia de su desaparición. Se rumorea que las empresas de Ballantine se encuentran en serias dificultades financieras. Colin James, el antiguo inquilino en Daylesford Gardens, ha desaparecido sin dejar rastro, y se convierte en el principal sospechoso. Un vendedor de periódicos al final de la calle, afirma haberlo visto entrar a la casa con un visitante el pasado viernes por la noche y salir solo una hora después. Ballantine fue estrangulado y, más probablemente, murió hace dos o tres días. El inspector Mallet, con la asistencia del sargento Frant, se encarga de la investigación. Todo parece indicar que el asesinato fue cuidadosamente planeado con mucha antelación, lo que se confirma cuando aparece el verdadero Colin James y se puede demostrar que alguien se hizo pasar por él. Lo que sigue es una larga lista de sospechosos. Crabtree, el criado de James, también ha desaparecido; Harper, el joven que encontró el cuerpo, ha accedido inesperadamente a cierta cantidad de dinero; John Fanshawe, de Fanshawe Bank, acaba de cumplir una condena de cuatro años y, durante el juicio, amenazó con matar a Ballantine acusándolo de las intrigas que lo llevaron a la ruina; el Capitán Eales, cuya esposa era su amante; La misma señora Eales, muy endeudada por sus excesos y caprichos; La esposa de Ballantine, que aunque estaba acostumbrada a sus infidelidades, podría haber pensado que ya había tenido suficiente; y esto sin mencionar a cierto Du Pine, secretario de The London e Imperial Estates Company Ltd., que podría tener su propia agenda.

Lo que me impulsó a leer este libro fue que varios de los libros de Cyril Hare son lecturas recomendadas en la edición  del 2019 de Bodies From The Library y la mayoría de ellos están fácilmente disponibles en formato Kindle a muy buenos precios. En consecuencia, me equipé con varios libros y espero leerlos todos en un futuro cercano. Huésped para la muerte fue el primer libro publicado de Hare y el autor nos ofrece un excelente retrato de Londres antes de la Segunda Guerra Mundial y una sólida caracterización de los personajes. La novela está muy bien escrita y la trama es realmente interesante. Contrariamente a algunos críticos que creen que el Inspector Mallet está hecho a imagen del Inspector Maigret, en mi opinión, Mallet, aunque es un inspector de policía de Scotland Yard, está mucho más cerca de Hercule Poirot. Francamente no pude descubrir el misterio antes del final. En general, la historia está muy bien elaborada y Hare demuestra tener un gran sentido del humor. Muy recomendable.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Acerca del autor: Cyril Hare es el seudónimo que utilizó Alfred Alexander Gordon Clark en la serie de novelas y cuentos policiacos que publicó de 1937 a 1958. Nacido en Mickleham cerca de Dorking en 1900, Gordon Clark se educó en St Aubyn’s, Rottingdean y Rugby. Estudió Historia en el New College de Oxford y se licenció con honores. Luego estudió derecho y en 1924 se colegió como abogado en Middle Temple. El seudónimo de Gordon Clark fue una mezcla de Hare Court, donde trabajó en el despacho de Roland Oliver, y Cyril Mansions, Battersea, donde vivió después de casarse con Mary Barbara Lawrence (hija de Sir William Lawrence, 3er Baronet) en 1933. Tuvieron un hijo y dos hijas. Cyril Hare se convirtió en autor en 1937 cuando publicó Huésped para la muerte, el primer libro de la serie del Inspector Mallett. De joven y durante los primeros días de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, Gordon Clark realizó una gira como “judge’s marshal” (un oficial de juzgado que acompañaba a un juez en sus desplazamientos, generalmente un joven abogado), experiencia que utilizó en Tragedia en la justicia (1942). Entre 1942 y 1945 trabajó en el despacho del Director del Ministerio Público (Fiscal del Estado). Al comenzar la guerra, estuvo un tiempo en el Ministerio de Economía de Guerra, y la administración pública en tiempos de guerra con muchos funcionarios provisionales aparece en Con un simple punzón (1946). En 1950 fue nombrado juez del tribunal del condado en Surrey. Su novela más conocida, Tragedia en la justicia, nunca ha dejado de publicarse, y Marcel Berlins la describió en 1999 como “todavía una de las mejores novelas policiacas “whodunnits” ambietada en el ámbito jurídico”. P. D. James fue más allá y escribió que “generalmente se reconoce que es la mejor historia policiaca ambientada en ese fascinante mundo”. Apareció en el no. 85 en las 100 los mejores novelas policiacas de todos los tiempos. Fue miembro del Detection Club. Poco después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial contrajo la tuberculosis y nunca más recuperó la salud hasta su muerte en 1958, en su casa cerca de Box Hill, Surrey, a los 57 años de edad.

Obras:

  • Huésped para la muerte, 1937 (Editorial Emecé, Colección el séptimo cículo nº 79, 1951) apa El inquilino de la muerte (Obras escogidas, Editorial Aguilar, Madrid 1959) (Inspector Mallet)
  • La muerte no es deportista, 1938 (Obras escogidas, Editorial Aguilar, Madrid 1959) (Inspector Mallet)
  • Suicide Excepted, 1939 (Inspector Mallet)
  • Tragedia en la justicia, 1942 (Editorial Emecé, Colección el séptimo cículo nº 153, 1959) (Inspector Mallet & Francis Pettigrew)
  • Con un simple punzón, 1946  (Obras escogidas, Editorial Aguilar, Madrid 1959) (Francis Pettigrew)
  • Cuando sopla el viento, 1949 (Obras escogidas, Editorial Aguilar, Madrid 1959) (Francis Pettigrew)
  • Un crimen inglés, 1951 (Editorial Emecé, Colección el séptimo cículo nº 135, 1956) (libro independiente)
  • La sombra de aquel tejo, 1954 (Obras escogidas, Editorial Aguilar, Madrid 1959) (Francis Pettigrew)
  • He Should Have Died Hereafter, 1958 (Inspector Mallet & Francis Pettigrew)
  • Best Detective Stories of Cyril Hare, 1959 (Colección de relatos)

Coleccion Septimo Circulo

I’m reading now Tenant for Death by Cyril Hare and when checking if there are any Cyril Hare’s book translated into Spanish, I came across this collection published by Emecé, Buenos Aires, Argentina, directed by Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares. It was a success, 366 detective novels were published between 1945 and 1985. You can find the complete collection here.

I imagine it says a lot about Borges and Bioy Casares’ taste on detective novels.