Notes On Death of an Author (1935) by E. C. R. Lorac

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British Library Publishing, 2023. Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 4027 KB. Print Length: 222 pages. ASIN: B0BPYX9LLF. eISBN: 978-0-7123-6840-7. Originally published by Sampson Low, London, 1935, Death of an Author was E. C. R Lorac final novel published by Sampson Low before she switched to the more prestigious Collins Crime Club with whom she remained for the rest of her career. With copies of the first and only edition incredibly rare today, this mystery returns to print for the first time since 1935. Includes an introduction by Martin Edwards.

519wvKOUx-L._SY346_Book Description: ‘I hate murders and I hate murderers, but I must admit that the discovery of a bearded corpse would give a fillip to my jaded mind.’
Vivian Lestrange – celebrated author of the popular mystery novel The Charterhouse Case and total recluse – has apparently dropped off the face of the Earth. Reported missing by his secretary Eleanor, whom Inspector Bond suspects to be the author herself, it appears that crime and murder is afoot when Lestrange’s housekeeper is also found to have disappeared.
Bond and Warner of Scotland Yard set to work to investigate a murder with no body and a potentially fictional victim, as E.C.R. Lorac spins a twisting tale full of wry humour and red herrings, poking some fun at her contemporary reviewers who long suspected the Lorac pseudonym to belong to a male author.

From Wikipedia: Death of an Author is a rare standalone book by Lorac, not featuring Chief Inspector MacDonald of Scotland Yard who appeared in a lengthy series of novels during the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.

From the Introduction by Martin Edwards: The story opens with an encounter between Andrew Marriott, a publisher, and his star author Michael Ashe… The conversation between Marriott and Ashe turns to a novel written by another of Marriott’s author. The book in question is The Charterhouse Case by Vivian Lestrange. As Ashe says, Lestrange has “achieved the impossible –or at least, the improbable– by writing a crime story that is in the rank of first rate novels. His writing , his characterisation, and his situation all disarm criticism.”
Lestrange, it seems is a recluse who refuses his photograph taken for publicity purposes and about whom nothing is known. Marriott and Ashe debate whether a book of such quality could really be the work of a newcomer and also the extent to which the authenticity of the prison life background of the story is such that it must be based on real life experience rather than simply meticulous research. …
Ashe persuades his publisher to arrange a dinner party which he can meet the mysterious Lestrange. But a shock is in store. We are told that Lestrange is actually a young woman. Marriott regards her as “the cooler creature I ever met in my life!”
What follows is interesting and relevant to the storyline and it also give us an intriguing insight into Lorac’s attitude towards the treatment of female writers by reviewers and the publishing industry generally.

My Take: Little more remains for me to add to the summary by Martin Edwards in the Introduction. Suffice it to say that the action begins when Eleonor Clarke, who claims to be the secretary of the famous author Vivian Lestrange, informs the police that he has disappeared. She cannot access his house and she fears that it could be either a matter of suspected murder or a kidnapping. It happens that Vivian Lestrange, a rather eccentric author, was leading a life of almost total seclusion. Hardly anyone had seen him before, with the sole exception of his housekeeper and Eleanor Clarke herself. And, to make matters worse, it is soon discovered that his housekeeper, Mrs. Fife, has also disappeared at the same time. Both Inspector Bond of the local police and Chief Inspector Warner of Scotland Yard take an interest in the case, albeit from a different perspective. Bond believes that Eleanor is the real Vivian Lestrange (Vivian can be a male or female name) who just aims to acquire some kind of notoriety, while Warner does not believe that Vivian Lestrange books were written by a woman. Moreover, he can’t imagine him seeking notoriety or publicity; his books are his own advertisement. It is therefore obvious that there is something odd in this whole affair. But then, when the case seems to be at a stand still, a charred body is found and, next to him, there is a notebook which had belonged to Vivian Lestrange.

Death of an Author is a highly entertaining story that I have quite enjoyed. It may not be exempt of some criticism due to a certain excess of improbabilities, from a current perspective. Overall though, it’s a very interesting story and one can easily overlook some minor flaws. The plot is neatly crafted and Lorac plays fair with the reader,even though the final resolution arrives more through a confession than as the result of a thorough  detection work. It is curious to point out the similarity between the fact that the name Vivian Lestrange can refer to both a man and a woman and the fact that, for many years, the pen name Lorac was believed to conceal a male author. All in all, a read that is worth your while.

Death of an Author has been reviewed, among others, by Martin Edwards at ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’ and by Kate Jackson at ‘Cross-examining Crime’

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(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Sampson Low, (UK), 1935)

About the Author: Edith Caroline Rivett (1894–1958) (who wrote under the pseudonyms E C R Lorac  –Lorac is Carol spelt backwards–, Carol Carnac and Mary Le Bourne) was a British crime writer. The youngest daughter of Harry and Beatrice Rivett, née Foot, (1868–1943), she was born in Hendon, Middlesex, (now London) on 6 May 1894. She attended the South Hampstead High School, and the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London.

Rivett was a very prolific author, writing forty-eight mysteries under her first pen name, and twenty-three under her second. A native Londoner, she was an accomplished author whose work deserves to be better known. Early Lorac titles include Murder in St John’s Wood and Murder in Chelsea, both published in 1934. Dorothy L. Sayers lauded The Organ Speaks (1935), as ‘entirely original, highly ingenious, and remarkable for atmospheric writing and convincing development of character’. In 1937 Lorac was elected a member of the Detection Club, and served as the Club’s Secretary. Her novels written as E C R Lorac feature Scottish Chief Inspector Robert MacDonald. In 28 of these books, he has the help of his assistant, Detective Inspector Reeves. The books written as Carol Carnac feature Inspector Julian Rivers.

A teacher by profession, she developed a passion for the Lune Valley and the surrounding area in the north-west of England, which provides the backdrop to several of her later books. Remaining unmarried, she lived her last years with her elder sister, Gladys Rivett (1891–1966), in Lonsdale, Lancashire. Rivett died at the Caton Green Nursing Home, Caton-with-Littledale, near Lancaster on 2 July 1958. At the time of her death, she was working on a non-series mystery novel, while another late stand-alone novel, Two-Way Murder, probably written in 1957-58, was published posthumously in 2021 by British Library Crime Classics.

After her death her books were almost lost in oblivion, until 2018 when British Library begun to reissue some of them.

Bibliography: As E. C. R. Lorac: The Murder on the Burrows (1931); The Affair on Thor’s Head (1932); The Greenwell Mystery (1932); The Case of Colonel Marchand (1933); Death on the Oxford Road (1933); Murder in St. John’s Wood (1934); Murder in Chelsea (1934);
The Organ Speaks (1935); Death of an Author (1935) not featuring MacDonald; Crime Counter Crime (1936); A Pall for a Painter (1936); Post After Post-Mortem (1936); These Names Make Clues (1937); Bats in the Belfry: A London Mystery (1937); The Devil and the C.I.D. (1938); Slippery Staircase (1938); John Brown’s Body (1939); Black Beadle (1939); Tryst for a Tragedy (1940); Death at Dyke’s Corner (1940); Case in the Clinic (1941); Rope’s End, Rogue’s End (1942); The Sixteenth Stair (1942); Death Came Softly (1943); Fell Murder: A Lancashire Mystery (1944); Checkmate to Murder: A Second World War Mystery (1944); Murder by Matchlight (1945); Fire in the Thatch: A Devon Mystery (1946); The Theft of the Iron Dogs (1946) U.S. title Murderer’s Mistake (1947); Relative to Poison (1947); Death Before Dinner U.S. title A Screen for Murder (1948); Part for a Poisoner (1948); U.S. title Place for a Poisoner (1948); Still Waters (1949); Policemen in the Precinct (1949); Accident by Design (1950); Murder of a Martinet U.S. title I Could Murder Her (1951); The Dog It Was That Died (1952); Murder in the Mill-Race: A Devon Mystery (1952) U.S. title Speak Justly of the Dead (1953); Crook O’Lune (1953) U.S. title Shepherd’s Crook (1953); Shroud of Darkness (1954); Let Well Alone (1954); Ask a Policeman (1955); Murder in Vienna (1956); Dangerous Domicile (1957); Picture of Death (1957); Murder on a Monument (1958); Death in Triplicate (1958) Non-MacDonald story featuring Superintendent Kempson; Dishonour Among Thieves (1959) U.S. title The Last Escape (1959) and Two-Way Murder (published posthumously in 2021 probably written in 1957-58).

British Library publicity page

Edith Caroline Rivett (1894-1958), aka ECR Lorac and Carol Carnac

E. C. R. Lorac at Golden Age of Detection Wiki

Death of an Author de E. C. R. Lorac

Descripción del libro: “Odio los asesinatos y odio a los asesinos, pero debo admitir que el descubrimiento de un cadáver barbudo daría un impulso a mi mente hastiada“.
Vivian Lestrange, célebre autor de la popular novela de misterio The Charterhouse Case y recluso total, aparentemente ha desaparecido de la faz de la Tierra. Reportado como desaparecido por su secretaria Eleanor, de quien el inspector Bond sospecha que es la autora, parece que el crimen y el asesinato están en marcha cuando se descubre que el ama de llaves de Lestrange también ha desaparecido.
Bond y Warner de Scotland Yard se pusieron a trabajar para investigar un asesinato sin cuerpo y una víctima potencialmente ficticia, como E.C.R. Lorac cuenta una historia retorcida llena de humor irónico y pistas falsas, burlándose un poco de sus críticos contemporáneos que durante mucho tiempo sospecharon que el seudónimo de Lorac pertenecía a un autor masculino.


De Wikipedia
: Death of an Author es un raro libro de Lorac independiente, es decir que no está protagonizado por el inspector jefe MacDonald de Scotland Yard, quien protagonizó una larga serie de novelas durante la Edad de Oro de la novela policiaca.

De la Introducción de Martin Edwards: La historia comienza con un encuentro entre Andrew Marriott, un editor, y su autor estrella Michael Ashe… La conversación entre Marriott y Ashe gira hacia una novela escrita por otro autor de Marriott. El libro en cuestión es The Charterhouse Case de Vivian Lestrange. Como dice Ashe, Lestrange ha “logrado lo imposible –o al menos, lo improbable– al escribir una historia criminal que está en el rango de las novelas de primer nivel. Su escritura, su caracterización y su situación desarman a la crítica”.
Lestrange, parece ser un recluso que rechaza ser fotografiado con fines publicitarios y de quien no se sabe nada. Marriott y Ashe debaten si un libro de tal calidad podría ser realmente el trabajo de un recién llegado y también hasta qué punto la autenticidad de los antecedentes de la vida en prisión de la historia es tal que debe basarse en experiencias de la vida real en lugar de simplemente una investigación meticulosa. . …
Ashe convence a su editor para que organice una cena en la que pueda conocer al misterioso Lestrange. Pero se avecina una sorpresa. Se nos dice que Lestrange es en realidad una mujer joven. Marriott la considera “la criatura más genial que he conocido en mi vida”.
Lo que sigue es interesante y relevante para la historia y también nos da una visión intrigante de la actitud de Lorac hacia el tratamiento de las escritoras por parte de la crìtica y de la industria editorial en general.


Mi opinión
: Poco más me queda por añadir al resumen de Martin Edwards en la Introducción. Baste decir que la acción comienza cuando Eleonor Clarke, quien dice ser la secretaria del famoso autor Vivian Lestrange, informa a la policía que ha desaparecido. No puede acceder a su casa y teme que se trate de un presunto asesinato o de un secuestro. Sucede que Vivian Lestrange, un autora bastante excéntrico, llevaba una vida de reclusión casi total. Casi nadie lo había visto antes, con la única excepción de su ama de llaves y la propia Eleanor Clarke. Y, para empeorar las cosas, pronto se descubre que su ama de llaves, la señora Fife, también ha desaparecido al mismo tiempo. Tanto el inspector Bond de la policía local como el inspector jefe Warner de Scotland Yard se interesan por el caso, aunque desde una perspectiva diferente. Bond cree que Eleanor es la verdadera Vivian Lestrange (Vivian puede ser un nombre masculino o femenino) que solo pretende adquirir algún tipo de notoriedad, mientras que Warner no cree que los libros de Vivian Lestrange hayan sido escritos por una mujer. Además, no puede imaginárselo buscando notoriedad o publicidad; sus libros son su propia publicidad. Por lo tanto, es obvio que hay algo extraño en todo este asunto. Pero entonces, cuando el caso parece estar parado, se encuentra un cuerpo carbonizado y, junto a él, hay un cuaderno de notas que había pertenecido a Vivian Lestrange.

Death of an Author es una historia muy entretenida que he disfrutado bastante. Puede que no esté exenta de algunas críticas por un cierto exceso de improbabilidades, desde una perspectiva actual. Sin embargo, en general, es una historia muy interesante y uno puede pasar fácilmente por alto algunos defectos menores. La trama está pulcramente construida y Lorac juega limpio con el lector, aunque la resolución final llega más a través de una confesión que como resultado de un minucioso trabajo de detección. Es curioso señalar la similitud entre el hecho de que el nombre Vivian Lestrange pueda referirse tanto a un hombre como a una mujer y el hecho de que, durante muchos años, se creyó que el seudónimo de Lorac ocultaba a un autor masculino. En definitiva, una lectura que merece la pena.

Acerca del Autor: Edith Caroline Rivett (1894–1958) (quien escribió bajo los seudónimos E C R Lorac –Lorac es Carol escrito al revés–, Carol Carnac y Mary Le Bourne) fue una escritora policíaca británica. La hija menor de Harry y Beatrice Rivett, de soltera Foot, (1868–1943), nació en Hendon, Middlesex (ahora Londres) el 6 de mayo de 1894. Asistió a la South Hampstead High School y a la Central School of Arts and Artesanía en Londres.

Rivett fue una autora muy prolífica, escribió cuarenta y ocho misterios con su primer seudónimo y veintitrés con el segundo. Nacida en Londres, fue una autora consumada cuya obra merece ser más conocida. Los primeros títulos de Lorac incluyen Murder in St John’s Wood y Murder in Chelsea, ambos publicados en 1934. Dorothy L. Sayers elogió The Organ Speaks (1935), como “totalmente original, muy ingenioso y notable por la escritura atmosférica y el desarrollo convincente del personaje”. En el 1937, Lorac fue elegida miembro del Detection Club,y ocupó el cargo de Secretario del Club. Sus novelas escritas como E C R Lorac están protagonizados por el inspector jefe escocés Robert MacDonald. En 28 de estos libros, cuenta con la ayuda de su asistente, el detective inspector Reeves. Los libros escritos como Carol Carnac están protagonizados por el inspector Julian Rivers.

Maestra de profesión, desarrolló una pasión por el valle de Lune y sus alrededores en el noroeste de Inglaterra, que proporciona el telón de fondo de varios de sus libros posteriores. Soltera, vivió sus últimos años con su hermana mayor, Gladys Rivett (1891–1966), en Lonsdale, Lancashire. Rivett murió en el Caton Green Nursing Home, Caton-with-Littledale, cerca de Lancaster el 2 de julio de 1958. En el momento de su muerte, estaba trabajando en una novela de misterio que no formaba parte de la serie, mientras que otra novela independiente tardía, Two- Way Murder, probablemente escrito en 1957-58, fue publicado póstumamente en 2021 por British Library Crime Classics.

Tras su muerte sus libros casi se perdieron en el olvido, hasta que en 2018 la Biblioteca Británica comenzó a reeditar algunos de ellos.

Que yo sepa al menos tres novelas de Lorac fueron publicadas en la colección El Séptimo Círculo, a cargo de los escritores argentinos Adolfo Bioy Casares y Jorge Luis Borges, Black Beadle (1939) bajo el título en español: La sombra del sacristán (nº 22); Checkmate to Murder (1944) Título en español: Jaque mate al asesino (nº 36) [también publicado por Editorial Bruguera Club de Misterio nº 96]; y Death in Triplicate (1958) bajo el título en español: Muerte por triplicado (nº162).

Aparentemente hubo al menos otros cuatro títulos traducidos al español Murder in the Millrace (1952) Título en español: Asesinato en el molino; Death Before Dinner (1948) Título en español: La muerte antes de comer; Relative to Poison (1947) Título en español: Relativo al veneno; y Murder as a Fine Art (1953) escrito como Carol Carnac, título en español: El asesinato como arte. Todos ellos publicados en Chile o en México, pero difíciles de encontrar.

My Book Notes: Post After Post-Mortem: An Oxfordshire Mystery, 1936 (Inspector Macdonald # 11) by E.C.R. Lorac

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British Library Publishing, 2022. Book Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 4056 KB. Print Length: 284 pages. ASIN: B09S4TB8WQ. eISBN: 978-0-7123-6724-0. The eleventh book in Chief Inspector Macdonald Mystery series was originally published in the UK by Collins Crime Club in 1936 and has been reissued by the British Library Publishing with an Introduction by Martin Edwards in 2022. 

9780712354752Book Description: The Surrays and their five children form a prolific writing machine, with scores of treatises, reviews and crime thrillers published under their family name. Following a rare convergence of the whole household at their Oxfordshire home, Ruth – middle sister who writes ‘books which are just books’ – decides to spend some weeks there recovering from the pressures of the writing life while the rest of the brood scatter to the winds again. Their next return is heralded by the tragic news that Ruth has taken her life after an evening at the Surrays’ hosting a set of publishers and writers, one of whom is named as Ruth’s literary executor in the will she left behind. Despite some suspicions from the family, the verdict at the inquest is suicide – but when Ruth’s brother Richard receives a letter from the deceased which was delayed in the post, he enlists the help of CID Robert Macdonald to investigate what could only be an ingeniously planned murder.

My Take: Chief Inspector MacDonald agrees to take an interest in the case that psychologist Richard Surray brings to him. No doubt, MacDonald had read about his sister’s death. A few days ago all newspapers had echoed the news of the suicide of the famous writer Ruth Surray. The subsequent investigation confirmed this and the matter was quickly settled to prevent further suffering to the family. But now Richard shows him a letter he just received. It was delayed because the address was wrong. It was probably written and mailed by Ruth herself the evening before her death. The letter leaves no doubt about her state of mind a few hours before she was found dead. How was it possible for her to write that she felt ‘marvellously better now’? shortly before taking her own life.

“But with the stubbornness which is the very essential of the Scot, MacDonald knew that he would go on delving, worrying, inquiring; there was a case, he was convinced –a case not of suicide, but of subtle, well planned, neatly-executed murder.”

I don’t feel necessary to add more about the story at hand to arouse the interest of any potential reader.

While, from my side, I don’t consider Post After Post-Mortem one of Carol Rivett’s best novels, it is also true that I’ve quite enjoyed it. The story captured my interest from the beginning to the end, and this is something many writers cannot achieve. Perhaps the problem was that my expectations where too high, but Post After Post-Mortem offers us a good entertainment, and it is worth a read.

Post After Post-Mortem has been reviewed by Martin Edwards at ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’, Kate Jackson at Cross-examining Crime, L J Hurst at Shotsmag, and Fictionfan at FictionFan’s Book Reviews

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(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Collins Crime Club, UK. 1936)

About the Author: E.C.R. Lorac (Lorac is Carol spelled backwards) along with of Carol Carnac and Mary Le Bourne were pennames of Edith Caroline Rivett (1894 – 1958) a prolific British writer of crime fiction, member of the famous Detection Club. She published over 60 novels from 1931-1959. Carol Rivett, as she was know to her family and friends, was born in Hendon, Middlesex, (now London) on 6 May 1894. She attended the South Hampstead High School, and the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London, and she continued as a craft practitioner throughout her life. In 1931 she published her first detective novel The Murder on the Burrows, a well-crafted debut which launched her detective Macdonald on a career that was to last for more than a quarter of a century. Nine Lorac novels were published by Sampson Low, earning increasingly favourable reviews, before she moved to the more prestigious imprint of Collins Crime Club in 1936, with Crime Counter Crime, set during a General Election. She remained a Crime Club stalwart for the rest of her life. In 1937 she was elected a member of the prestigious Detection Club. “Although many of Carol’s prewar detective novels were set in London, her postwar books more often take place in rural England, frequently in the north country. Several novels are specifically set in Lancashire’s lovely Lune Valley, along the River Lune.” (Source: Curtis Evans at The Passing Tramp). Remaining unmarried, she lived her last years with her elder sister, Gladys Rivett (1891 – 1966), in Lonsdale, Lancashire. Carol Rivett died on 2 July 1958 at the Caton Green Nursing Home, Caton-with-Littledale, near Lancaster.

After her dead, her oeuvre was pretty much neglected until 2018, when British Library in its “Crime Classics” series begun to re-issue some of her novels. The following titles have been published as of today: Fire in the Thatch: A Devon Mystery; Bats in the Belfry: A London Mystery; Murder by Matchlight; Murder in the Mill-Race: A Devon Mystery; Fell Murder: A Lancashire Mystery; Checkmate to Murder: A Second World War Mystery and Crossed Skis: An Alpine Mystery (written under the moniker Carol Carnac). A previously unpublished late work, Two-Way Murder, was added in 2021; the original manuscript was under a new pen name, Mary le Bourne, but has been published by the British Library as by E.C.R. Lorac. And lately, These Names Make Clues and Post After Post-Mortem.

As E. C. R. Lorac she wrote: The Murder on the Burrows (1931); The Affair on Thor’s Head (1932); The Greenwell Mystery (1932); Death on the Oxford Road (1933); The Case of Colonel Marchand (1933); Murder in St. John’s Wood (1934); Murder in Chelsea (1934); The Organ Speaks (1935); Death of an Author (1935); Crime Counter Crime (1936); Post After Post-Mortem (1936); A Pall for a Painter (1936); Bats in the Belfry (1937); These Names Make Clues (1937); The Devil and the C.I.D. (1938); Slippery Staircase (1938); John Brown’s Body (1939); Black Beadle (1939); Death at Dyke’s Corner (1940); Tryst for a Tragedy (1940); Case in the Clinic (1941); Rope’s End Rogue’s End (1942); The Sixteenth Stair (1942); Death Came Softly (1943); Checkmate to Murder (1944); Fell Murder (1944); Murder by Matchlight (1945); Fire in the Thatch (1946); The Theft of the Iron Dogs aka Murderer’s Mistake (1946); Relative to Poison (1947); Death Before Dinner aka A Screen for Murder (1948); Part for a Poisoner aka Place for a Poisoner (1948); Still Waters (1949); Policeman in the Precinct aka And Then Put Out the Light (1949); Accident by Design (1950); Murder of a Martinet aka I Could Murder Her (1951); The Dog It Was That Died (1952); Murder in the Mill-Race aka Speak Justly of the Dead (1952); Crook O’Lune aka Shepherd’s Crook (1953); Shroud of Darkness (1954); Let Well Alone (1954); Ask a Policeman (1955); Murder in Vienna (1956); Picture of Death (1957); Dangerous Domicile (1957); Death in Triplicate aka People Will Talk (1958); Murder on a Monument (1958); Dishonour Among Thieves aka The Last Escape (1959); and Two-Way Murder (2021) previously unpublished probably written around 1957-58. 

British Library Publishing publicity page

Edith Caroline Rivett (1894-1958), aka ECR Lorac and Carol Carnac

E. C. R. Lorac at Golden Age of Detection Wiki

E.C.R. Lorac Rises Through The Ranks (Queens of Crime At War 2)

Post After Post-Mortem: An Oxfordshire Mystery, by E.C.R. Lorac

Descripción del libro: Los Surray y sus cinco hijos son escritores muy prolíficos, con decenas de tratados, reseñas y novelas policiacas publicadas con su apellido. Tras un raro encuentro de toda la familia en su casa de Oxfordshire, Ruth, la hermana mediana que escribe “libros que son solo libros”, decide pasar allí unas semanas recuperándose de las tensiones de la vida del escritor mientras el resto de la prole se dispersa por todas partes de nuevo. Su siguiente regreso viene marcado por la trágica noticia de que Ruth se ha quitado la vida después de una noche en casa de los Surray con un grupo de editores y escritores, uno de los cuales es nombrado albacea literario de Ruth en el testamento que dejó.
A pesar de algunas sospechas de la familia, el veredicto de la investigación judicial es suicidio, pero cuando el hermano de Ruth, Richard, recibe una carta de la fallecida que se retrasó en el correo, solicita la ayuda del CID Robert Macdonald para investigar lo que solo podría ser un asesinato ingeniosamente planificado.

Mi opinión: El inspector jefe MacDonald acepta interesarse en el caso que le presenta el psicólogo Richard Surray. Sin duda, MacDonald había leído sobre la muerte de su hermana. Hace unos días todos los periódicos se habían hecho eco de la noticia del suicidio de la célebre escritora Ruth Surray. La investigación posterior lo confirmó y el asunto se resolvió rápidamente para evitar más sufrimiento a la familia. Pero ahora Richard le muestra una carta que acaba de recibir. Se retrasó porque la dirección estaba equivocada. Probablemente fue escrita y enviada por la propia Ruth la noche antes de su muerte. La carta no deja lugar a dudas sobre su estado de ánimo unas horas antes de que la encontraran muerta. ¿Cómo era posible que ella escribiera que se sentía “maravillosamente mejor ahora“? poco antes de quitarse la vida.

“Pero con la terquedad que es la esencia misma del escocés, MacDonald sabía que seguiría indagando, preocupándose, investigando; había un caso, estaba convencido, un caso no de suicidio, sino de asesinato sutil, bien planeado y perfectamente ejecutado”. (Mi traducción libre)

No creo necesario añadir más sobre la historia que nos ocupa para despertar el interés de cualquier lector potencial.

Si bien, por mi parte, no considero Post After Post-Mortem una de las mejores novelas de Carol Rivett, también es cierto que la he disfrutado bastante. La historia capturó mi interés desde el principio hasta el final, y esto es algo que muchos escritores no pueden lograr. Quizás el problema era que mis expectativas eran demasiado altas, pero Post After Post-Mortem nos ofrece un buen entretenimiento, y merece la pena leerla.

Acerca del autor: E.C.R. Lorac (Lorac es Carol escrito al revés) junto con Carol Carnac y Mary Le Bourne fueron seudónimos de Edith Caroline Rivett (1894 – 1958), una prolífica escritora británica de novela policiaca, miembro del famoso Detection Club. Publicó más de 60 novelas entre 1931 y 1959. Carol Rivett, como era conocida por su familia y sus amigos, nació en Hendon, Middlesex (ahora Londres) el 6 de mayo de 1894. Estudió en South Hampstead High School y en Central School of Arts and Crafts de Londres, y continuó practicando la artesanía a lo largo de su vida. En 1931 publicó su primera novela policiaca The Murder on the Burrows, un debut bien elaborado que presentó a su detective Macdonald a una carrera que duraría más de un cuarto de siglo. Sampson Low publicó nueve novelas de Lorac, obteniendo críticas cada vez más favorables, antes de mudarse al sello más prestigioso de Collins Crime Club en 1936, con Crime Counter Crime, ambientada durante unas elecciones generales. Siguió siendo incondicional del Club del Crimen el resto de su vida. En 1937 fue elegida miembro del prestigioso Detection Club. “Aunque muchas de sus novelas de detectives publicadas antes de la guerra estaban ambientadas en Londres, sus libros de posguerra suelen tener lugar en la Inglaterra rural, con frecuencia en el norte del país. Varias novelas están ambientadas específicamente en el encantador Lune Valley de Lancashire, a lo largo del río Lune”. Permaneció soltera y vivió sus últimos años con su hermana mayor, Gladys Rivett (1891 – 1966), en Lonsdale, Lancashire. Edith Rivett murió el 2 de julio de 1958 en Caton Green Nursing Home, Caton-with-Littledale, cerca de Lancaster.

Después de su muerte, su obra estuvo bastante olvidada hasta 2018, cuando la Biblioteca Británica en su serie “Crime Classics” comenzó a reeditar algunas de sus novelas. Los siguientes títulos han sido publicados hasta el día de hoy: Fire in the Thatch: A Devon Mystery; Bats in the Belfry: A London Mystery; Murder by Matchlight; Murder in the Mill-Race: A Devon Mystery; Fell Murder: A Lancashire Mystery; Checkmate to Murder: A Second World War Mystery and Crossed Skis: An Alpine Mystery (escrito bajo el sobrenombre de Carol Carnac). En 2021 se agregó un trabajo tardío inédito, Two-Way Murder ; el manuscrito original estaba bajo un nuevo seudónimo, Mary le Bourne, pero ha sido publicado por la Biblioteca Británica como por E.C.R. Lorac. Y últimamente, These Names Make Clues y Post After Post-Mortem.

Como E. C. R. Lorac escribió: The Murder on the Burrows (1931); The Affair on Thor’s Head (1932); The Greenwell Mystery (1932); Death on the Oxford Road (1933); The Case of Colonel Marchand (1933); Murder in St. John’s Wood (1934); Murder in Chelsea (1934); The Organ Speaks (1935); Death of an Author (1935); Crime Counter Crime (1936); Post After Post-Mortem (1936); A Pall for a Painter (1936); Bats in the Belfry (1937); These Names Make Clues (1937); The Devil and the C.I.D. (1938); Slippery Staircase (1938); John Brown’s Body (1939); Black Beadle (1939); Death at Dyke’s Corner (1940); Tryst for a Tragedy (1940); Case in the Clinic (1941); Rope’s End Rogue’s End (1942); The Sixteenth Stair (1942); Death Came Softly (1943); Checkmate to Murder (1944); Fell Murder (1944); Murder by Matchlight (1945); Fire in the Thatch (1946); The Theft of the Iron Dogs aka Murderer’s Mistake (1946); Relative to Poison (1947); Death Before Dinner aka A Screen for Murder (1948); Part for a Poisoner aka Place for a Poisoner (1948); Still Waters (1949); Policeman in the Precinct aka And Then Put Out the Light (1949); Accident by Design (1950); Murder of a Martinet aka I Could Murder Her (1951); The Dog It Was That Died (1952); Murder in the Mill-Race aka Speak Justly of the Dead (1952); Crook O’Lune aka Shepherd’s Crook (1953); Shroud of Darkness (1954); Let Well Alone (1954); Ask a Policeman (1955); Murder in Vienna (1956); Picture of Death (1957); Dangerous Domicile (1957); Death in Triplicate aka People Will Talk (1958); Murder on a Monument (1958); Dishonour Among Thieves aka The Last Escape (1959); y Two-Way Murder (2021) inédita probablemente escrita alrededor de 1957-58.

My Book Notes: These Names Make Clues, 1937 (Robert MacDonald #12) by E. C. R. Lorac

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British Library Publishing, 2021. Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 4221 KB. Print Length: 241 pages. ASIN: B09FY6ZLPY. eISBN: 978-0-7123-6778-3. Originally published by Collins Crime Club, London, 1937. With and Introduction by Martin Edwards, 2021.

513zH7tvwZL._SY346_Book Description: These Names Make Clues is a metafictional masterpiece from the Golden Age of Crime Fiction, and another title from series favourite E.C.R. Lorac, following on from Two Way Murder (March 2021). Chief Inspector Macdonald is a regular protagonist of Lorac’s, featuring in titles such as Bats in the Belfry, Checkmate to Murder and Murder by Matchlight.

‘Should detectives go to parties? Was it consistent with the dignity of the Yard? The inspector tossed for it—and went.’

Chief Inspector Macdonald has been invited to a treasure hunt party at the house of Graham Coombe, the celebrated publisher of Murder by Mesmerism. Despite a handful of misgivings, the inspector joins a guest list of novelists and thriller writers disguised on the night under literary pseudonyms. The fun comes to an abrupt end, however, when ‘Samuel Pepys’ is found dead in the telephone room in bizarre circumstances.

Amidst the confusion of too many fake names, clues, ciphers and convoluted alibis, Macdonald and his allies in the CID must unravel a truly tangled case in this metafictional masterpiece, which returns to print for the first time since its publication in 1937.

My Take: Chief Inspector Macdonald was getting ready to spend a quiet reading evening. Before, he decided to open the letters that had arrived while he was away. He torn apart the first three letters but something in the fourth envelope overtook his attention. It was an invitation from Mr Graham Coombe and Miss Susan Coombe to participate in a treasure hunt. Clues of a literary, historical and practical nature will be provided. Detectives, both literary, psychological and practical, are expected to compete to find the solution. The party will be held at Caroline House, the house of the Coombe siblings, on 1 April 1936 at 8.15 p.m. About a week ago, Macdonald was introduced to Mr Coombe at Simpson’s. The conversation revolved around detective stories, and Macdonald made some criticisms of the methods employed by a new thriller author, who was having great success. It wasn’t until Mr Coombe left that Macdonald learned that he was the publisher of  Murder by Mesmerism, the novel he had criticised so fervently. Right away he found himself in a dead-end situation. If he goes, his opponents might be smarter and he’ll end up looking as a fool. I he refuses to go, he’ll be considered a pushover and he’ll end up looking as a fool. He was still debating this point when Peter Vernon, a journalist who had occasionally provided him with useful information, rang the doorbell of his apartment. Apparently, Coombe had also sent him an invitation, but he will not be able to attend the party because he had a T.U.C. meeting that week. They both debated the two options, but finally the decision to accept the invitation was made by flipping a coin. 

At first, it is assumed that the guests do not know each other and, upon their arrival, each one will receive a tag with a “nom de guerre” to hide their true identity. Macdonald will be Izaak Walton for the rest of the evening. At the end, each guest will be allowed to ask the other guests six questions each to try to find out their name and status. Direct questions about the name or authorship of their books are barred. Macdonald found that the party consisted of four “thriller” writers (two female and two male), four conventional writers (two female and two male) in addition to Janet Campbell, one of Coombe’s readers who had the label of Mrs Gaskell, and himself.

During the evening a power cut leaves the entire house in darkness. Soon after, one of the guests, a well-known writer named Andrew Gardien, hidden under the name of Samuel Pepys, is found dead in the telephone room. Initially, it is assumed  he died of heart failure, but Inspector Macdonald realises that there might be foul play behind his death, when he discovers that he may have been electrocuted with a carefully designed device for that purpose.

The story becomes more convoluted when Gardien’s agent, a man called Elliot, is found dead in his office. It seems clear he has been murdered, but it is unclear whether or not their two deaths are related. Besides, it is not  obvious either which one of the two fatalities happened before, which may suggest one could have killed the other.

In a nutshell, I’ve found the story highly entertaining and easy to read. The plot is full of twists and turns that hold the reader’s attention at all times. The story has plenty of red-herrings and clues hidden everywhere.  It might well be possible that Miss Rivett does not always play fair with the reader. It has seemed to me that she has kept hidden some relevant facts and that, finally, Chief Inspector Macdonald brings out of the blue extremely important data to clarify what happened. But who cares, when the entertainment that offers us is perfectly served. An extremely enjoyable and suspense packed read.

These Names Make Clues has been reviewed, among others, by Juergen Lull at Golden Age of Detection Wiki, Martin Edwards at ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’, Erin Britton at Crime Fiction Lover, Steven Barge at In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, Joules Barham at Northern Reader, Kate Jackson at Cross-Examining Crime, Karen at Euro Crime, FictionFan’s Book Reviews, Jacqui at JacquiWine’s Journal, and Martin Fone at Window through time.

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(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Collins Crime Club, UK. 1937)

About the Author: Edith Caroline Rivett (1894 – 1958) (who wrote under the pseudonyms E.C.R. Lorac, and Carol Carnac, –Lorac is Carol spelled backwards) was a British crime writer. Born in Hendon, Middlesex, (now London) on 6 May 1894, she attended the South Hampstead High School, and the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London. Rivett was a member of the Detection Club. A very prolific author, she wrote forty-eight mysteries under her first pen name, and twenty-three under her second. An important author of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, she remained unmarried and lived her last years with her elder sister, Gladys Rivett (1891–1966), in Lonsdale, Lancashire. Rivett died at the Caton Green Nursing Home, Caton-with-Littledale, near Lancaster on 2 July 1958. After her dead, her oeuvre was neglected to oblivion until 2018 when British Library in its “British Library Crime Classics” series begun to re-issue some of her novels, having published so far the following titles  (Most featuring Chief Inspector Robert Macdonald, her main series character): Murder by Matchlight (1945); Murder in the Mill-Race: A Devon Mystery (1952); Bats in the Belfry: A London Mystery (1937); Fire in the Thatch: A Devon Mystery (1946); Fell Murder: A Lancashire Mystery (1944); Crossed Skis: An Alpine Mystery [as Carol Carnac] (1952); Checkmate to Murder: A Second World War Mystery (1944); Two-Way Murder (2021) previously unpublished probably written in 1957-58; and These Names Make Clues (1937). Besides I have read: Accident by Design (1950); Murder of a Martinet (U.S. title: I Could Murder Her) (1951); and Shroud of Darkness (1954).

British Library publicity page

Audible

Edith Caroline Rivett (1894-1958), aka ECR Lorac and Carol Carnac

E. C. R. Lorac at Golden Age of Detection Wiki

These Names Make Clues, by E. C. R. Lorac

Descripción del libro: These Names Make Clues es una obra maestra de metaficción de la Edad de oro de la novela policiaca, y otro título de la favorita de la serie E.C.R. Lorac, tras Two Way Murder (marzo de 2021). El inspector jefe Macdonald es el protagonista habitual de Lorac y aparece en títulos como Bats in the Belfry, Checkmate to Murder y Murder by Matchlight.

¿Deberían los detectives ir a fiestas? ¿Sería compatible con la dignidad de Scotland Yard? El inspector lo echó a suertes y fue.

El inspector jefe Macdonald ha sido invitado a una fiesta para participar en una caza del tesoro en la casa de Graham Coombe, el célebre editor de Murder by Mesmerism. A pesar de un puñado de dudas, el inspector se une a una lista de invitados de novelistas y escritores de misterio disfrazados de noche bajo seudónimos literarios. Sin embargo, la diversión llega a un final abrupto cuando ‘Samuel Pepys’ es encontrado muerto en la habitación del teléfono en extrañas circunstancias.

En medio de la confusión de demasiados nombres falsos, pistas, claves y coartadas complicadas, Macdonald y sus aliados del CID deben desentrañar un caso verdaderamente enmarañado en esta obra maestra metaficcional, que se vuelve a publicar por primera vez desde su publicación en 1937.

Mi opinión: El inspector jefe Macdonald se estaba preparando para pasar una tranquila tarde de lectura. Antes, decidió abrir las cartas que habían llegado durante su ausencia. Rompió las tres primeras cartas, pero algo en el cuarto sobre captó su atención. Era una invitación del Sr. Graham Coombe y la Srta. Susan Coombe para participar en la búsqueda de un tesoro. Se proporcionarán pistas de carácter literario, histórico y práctico. Se espera que los detectives, tanto literarios, psicológicos y prácticos, compitan para encontrar la solución. La fiesta se celebrará en Caroline House, la casa de los hermanos Coombe, el 1 de abril de 1936 a las 20.15 horas. Hace aproximadamente una semana, Macdonald conoció al Sr. Coombe en Simpson’s. La conversación giró en torno a las historias de detectives, y Macdonald hizo algunas críticas de los métodos empleados por un nuevo autor de thrillers, que estaba teniendo un gran éxito. No fue hasta que el Sr. Coombe se fue que Macdonald se enteró de que él era el editor de Murder by Mesmerism, la novela que había criticado tan fervientemente. Inmediatamente se encontró en una situación sin salida. Si va, sus oponentes podrían ser más inteligentes y terminará pareciendo un tonto. Si se niega a ir, será considerado un pusilánime y terminará pareciendo un tonto. Todavía estaba debatiendo este extremo cuando Peter Vernon, un periodista que, en ocasiones, le había proporcionado información de utilidad, tocó al timbre de su apartamento. Aparentemente, Coombe también le había enviado una invitación, pero no podrá asistir a la fiesta porque tenía una reunión del Congreso Sindical esa semana. Ambos debatieron las dos opciones, pero finalmente la decisión de aceptar la invitación se tomó al tirar una moneda al aire.

En un principio, se supone que los invitados no se conocen y, a su llegada, cada uno recibirá una etiqueta con un “nombre de guerra” para ocultar su verdadera identidad. Macdonald será Izaak Walton por el resto de la noche. Al final, cada invitado podrá hacer seis preguntas a los demás invitados para tratar de averiguar su nombre y estado. Las preguntas directas sobre el nombre o la autoría de sus libros están prohibidas. Macdonald descubrió que el grupo estaba formado por cuatro escritores de “thrillesr” (dos mujeres y dos hombres), cuatro escritores convencionales (dos mujeres y dos hombres) además de Janet Campbell, una de las lectoras de Coombe que tenía la etiqueta de Sra. Gaskell, y él mismo.

Durante la velada un corte de luz deja toda la casa a oscuras. Poco después, uno de los invitados, un conocido escritor llamado Andrew Gardien, escondido bajo el nombre de Samuel Pepys, es encontrado muerto en el cuarto del teléfono. Inicialmente, se supone que murió de insuficiencia cardíaca, pero el inspector Macdonald se da cuenta de que podría haber un crimen detrás de su muerte, cuando descubre que pudo haber sido electrocutado con un dispositivo cuidadosamente diseñado para ese propósito.

La historia se vuelve más complicada cuando el agente de Gardien, un hombre llamado Elliot, es encontrado muerto en su oficina. Parece claro que ha sido asesinado, pero no está claro si sus dos muertes están relacionadas o no. Además, tampoco es obvio cuál de las dos muertes ocurrió antes, lo que puede sugerir que uno podría haber matado al otro.

En pocas palabras, la historia me ha resultado muy entretenida y fácil de leer. La trama está llena de giros y vueltas que mantienen la atención del lector en todo momento. La historia tiene muchas pistas falsas e indicios escondidos por todas partes. Bien podría ser posible que Miss Rivett no siempre juegue limpio con el lector. Me ha parecido que ha mantenido ocultos algunos hechos relevantes y que, finalmente, el inspector jefe Macdonald saca de la nada datos importantísimos para esclarecer lo sucedido. Pero qué más da, cuando el entretenimiento que nos ofrece está perfectamente servido. Una lectura muy amena y llena de suspense.

Acerca del autor: Edith Caroline Rivett (1894 – 1958) (que escribió bajo los seudónimos ECR Lorac y Carol Carnac, Lorac es Carol escrito al revés) fue una escritora de novelas  policíacas británica. Nacida en Hendon, Middlesex, (ahora Londres) el 6 de mayo de 1894, asistió a la South Hampstead High School y a la Central School of Arts and Crafts de Londres. Rivett fue miembro del Detection Club. Autora muy prolífica, escribió cuarenta y ocho misterios con su primer seudónimo y veintitrés con el segundo. Autora Importante de la Edad de Oro de la novela policiaca, permaneció soltera y vivió sus últimos años con su hermana mayor, Gladys Rivett (1891-1966), en Lonsdale, Lancashire. Rivett murió en el Caton Green Nursing Home, Caton-with-Littledale, cerca de Lancaster el 2 de julio de 1958. Después de su muerte, su obra quedó en el olvido hasta 2018 cuando la Biblioteca Británica en su serie “British Library Crime Classics” comenzó a publicar de nuevo algunas de sus novelas, habiendo publicado hasta ahora los siguientes títulos (la mayoría con el inspector jefe Robert Macdonald, el personaje principal de su serie): Murder by Matchlight (1945); Murder in the Mill-Race: A Devon Mystery (1952); Bats in the Belfry: A London Mystery (1937); Fire in the Thatch: A Devon Mystery (1946); Fell Murder: A Lancashire Mystery (1944); Crossed Skis: An Alpine Mystery [as Carol Carnac] (1952); Checkmate to Murder: A Second World War Mystery (1944); Two-Way Murder (2021) inédito hasta ahora y probablemente escrtio entre 1957-58; y These Names Make Clues (1937). Además he leído: Accident by Design (1950); Murder of a Martinet (U.S. title: I Could Murder Her) (1951); y Shroud of Darkness (1954).

My Book Notes: Murder by Matchlight, 1945 (Robert MacDonald #26) by E. C. R. Lorac

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British Library Publishing, 2018. Book Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 3266 KB. Print Length: 264pages. ASIN: B07HY1SNT9. eISBN: 978-0-7123-6464-5. Originally published in 1945 by Collins, London. With and Introduction by Martin Edwards, 2018.

51jovyqG4NLBook Description: On a damp November evening in wartime London, a young chemist sits on a bench in Regent’s Park and watches as an approaching stranger suddenly disappears beneath a footbridge. Seconds later another figure appears on the same overpass, stops to smoke and discard a cigarette, and strikes a match that briefly illuminates a face beyond his own. Through the succeeding darkness come the sounds of a thud and a falling body — then silence. Thus begins this chilling mystery from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction by Edith Caroline Rivett, author of more than seventy books written under the pseudonyms of E. C. R. Lorac and Carol Carnac. Murder by Matchlight features Scotland Yard’s imperturbable Chief Inspector Robert Macdonald, who is tasked with finding the killer of the man on the bridge. His only evidence: a set of bicycle tracks that come to an abrupt end. His suspects: a colorful cast that includes the shy, soft-spoken witness, a respected London physician, a screenwriter, an unemployed laborer, and a vaudevillian specializing in illusions — a lively group whose questionable activities will keep readers guessing until the final twist and turn of this deftly plotted whodunit. (Source: Goodreads)

My Take: Murder by Matchlight is set in wartime London. During a blackout, two men witness a murder at Regent’s Park. Bruce Mallaig, one of the witnesses, saw the victim lighting a cigarette while standing near a footbridge. During the moment when the matchlight illuminated the face of the victim, he was able to see briefly the face of the murderer. When the light got off, he heard a thud followed by the sound of a body falling. Initially the police were quite sceptical about the versions of the witnesses, but they are accepted at face value, since they do not contradict each other. The victim, according to his identity card, was identified as John Ward and the case was immediately handed over to Chief Inspector Macdonald for investigation. The most surprising thing about this whole affair is that it is soon discovered that John Ward is a false identity, which will undoubtedly make the investigation of the case very much difficult.

There are many good things to say about this more than interesting novel that has a magnificent start. A murder committed in front of two witnesses that can be considered an impossible crime, since none of them heard the footsteps that would have betrayed the presence of the murderer. Moreover, the story fits perfectly well in the setting and age in which it unfolds, and it couldn’t have happened outside similar circumstances. The plot is nicely structured and captures the reader’s attention. There is no shortage of suspects, though the reasons for the crime  not always turn out being evident and I also enjoyed the excellent description of the characters, with the only exception of Chief Inspector Macdonald whose characterisation is a very poor one in my view. Though startling, I did not find very convincing the denouement and, maybe, there’s an excessive taste for the detail all along the story that can turn out a bit boring occasionally. Anyhow, it was a highly entertaining read. 

Murder by Matchlight has been reviewed, among others, at Past Offences, ‘Do Yoy Write Under Your Own Name?’, FictionFan’s Book Reviews, Cross-Examining Crime, Northern Reader, Classic Mysteries, The Invisible Event, Bedford Bookshelf, and Books Please.

About the Author: Edith Caroline Rivett (1894 – 1958) (who wrote under the pseudonyms E.C.R. Lorac, and Carol Carnac) was a British crime writer. Born in Hendon, Middlesex, (now London) on 6 May 1894, she attended the South Hampstead High School, and the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London. Rivett was a member of the Detection Club. A very prolific author, she wrote forty-eight mysteries under her first pen name, and twenty-three under her second. An important author of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, she remained unmarried and lived her last years with her elder sister, Gladys Rivett (1891–1966), in Lonsdale, Lancashire. In her latter years, she wrote several mysteries feature Chief Inspector Macdonald with the Lune Valley, Lancashire, as its setting. Rivett died at the Caton Green Nursing Home, Caton-with-Littledale, near Lancaster on 2 July 1958. In 2018, the British Library included three novels by E.C.R. Lorac in its “British Library Crime Classics” series of re-issued works, including Fire in the Thatch, Bats in the Belfry, and Murder by Matchlight. The back cover of the re-issued, Fire in the Thatch: A Devon Mystery (originally published in 1946), declares that, “Her books have been almost entirely neglected since her death, but deserve rediscovery as fine examples of classic British crime fiction in its golden age.”

There are twenty-three Carol Carnac books and forty-eight E. C. R. Lorac books, the first being The Murder on the Burrows, under the Lorac (Lorac is Carol spelled backwards) pseudonym, which was published by Sampson Law in 1931. It features her main series character, Chief Inspector  Robert Macdonald, ‘a London Scott’ and bachelor with a love for walking the English countryside. Macdonald had an assistant, Detective Inspector Reeves who appeared in twenty-eight of the forty-six Macdonald’s books. They were a formidable team, whilst diverse characters, as all good detective fiction partnerships have to be, they complemented each other well. All of the Lorac books were first published in London but, incredibly, twenty-four titles were not published in the USA. The first Carol Carnac book, Triple Death, was published by Thornton Butterworth in 1936 and featured Inspector Ryvet, the first of three series character under the Carnac name. Carnac’s other two main characters were Chief Inspector Julian Rivers of Scotland Yard, who appeared in fifteen books, and his assistant Inspector Lancing, who appeared in eighteen cases (four with Ryvet). The novels are all generally well plotted and set against attractive period backgrounds. The only real criticism, the perennial one with detective fiction, is lack of descriptive depth and colour to the main series character. (Source: Classic Crime Fiction)

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(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Collins The Crime Club (UK), 1945)

Bibliography as E. C. R. Lorac: The Murder on the Burrows (1931); The Affair on Thor’s Head (1932); The Greenwell Mystery (1932); The Case of Colonel Marchand (1933); Death on the Oxford Road (1933); Murder in St. John’s Wood (1934); Murder in Chelsea (1934); The Organ Speaks (1935); Death of an Author (1935); Crime Counter Crime (1936); Post after Post-Mortem (1936); A Pall for a Painter (1936); Bats in the Belfry (1937); These Names Make Clues (1937); The Devil and the C.I.D. (1938); Slippery Staircase (1938); John Brown’s Body (1939); Black Beadle (1939); Death at Dyke’s Corner (1940); Tryst for a Tragedy (1940); Case in the Clinic (1941); Rope’s End – Rogue’s End (1942); The Sixteenth Stair (1942); Death Came Softly (1943); Checkmate to Murder (1944); Fell Murder (1944); Murder by Matchlight (1945); Fire in the Thatch (1946); The Theft of the Iron Dogs (1946) vt Murderer’s Mistake (1947 US); Relative to Poison (1947); Death before Dinner (1948); Part for a Poisoner (1948); Still Waters (1949); Policemen in the Precinct (1949); Accident by Design (1950); Murder of a Martinet (U.S. title: I Could Murder Her) (1951); The Dog It Was That Died (1952); Murder in the Mill-Race (1952) (US title: “Speak Justly of the Dead” 1953); Crook O’Lune (1953) [US title: Shepherd’s Crook]; Shroud of Darkness (1954); Let Well Alone (1954); Ask a Policeman (1955); Murder in Vienna (1956); Picture of Death (1957); Dangerous Domicile (1957); Death in Triplicate (1958); Murder on a Monument (1958); Dishonour among Thieves (U.S. title: The Last Escape) (1959); and Two-Way Murder (2021) previously unpublished probably written in 1957-58. (Most of them featuring her main series character, Chief Inspector Robert Macdonald).

As Carol Carnac: Triple Death (1936); Murder at Mornington (1937); The Missing Rope (1937); When the Devil Was Sick (1939); The Case of the First Class Carriage (1939); Death in the Diving Pool (1940); A Double for Detection (1945); The Striped Suitcase (1946); Clue Sinister (1947); Over the Garden Wall (1948); Upstairs Downstairs (1950); Copy for Crime (1950); It’s Her Own Funeral (1951); Crossed Skis (1952); Murder as a Fine Art (1953); A Policeman at the Door (1953); Impact of Evidence (1954); Murder among Members (1955); Rigging the Evidence (1955); The Double Turn (1956); The Burning Question (1957); Long Shadows (1958) (U.S. title: Affair at Helen’s Court); and Death of a Lady Killer (1959).

British Library publicity page

Poisoned Pen Press publicity page

Audible

Edith Caroline Rivett (1894-1958), aka ECR Lorac and Carol Carnac

Murder by matchlight de E. C. R. Lorac

Descripción del libro: Una húmeda noche de noviembre en el Londres de la época de la guerra, un joven químico se sienta en un banco en Regent’s Park y observa cómo un extraño que se acerca desaparece repentinamente debajo de la pasarela de un puente peatonal. Segundos después aparece otro persoanje en la misma pasarela, se detiene a fumar, tira de un cigarrillo y enciende una cerilla que ilumina brevemente un rostro más allá del suyo. A través de la oscuridad subsiguiente llegan los sonidos de un ruido sordo y un cuerpo que cae, luego se hace el silencio. Así comienza este escalofriante misterio de la Edad de Oro de la ficción policíaca de Edith Caroline Rivett, autora de más de setenta libros escritos bajo los seudónimos de ECR Lorac y Carol Carnac. Murder by Matchlight protagonizada por el imperturbable inspector jefe de Scotland Yard, Robert Macdonald, quien tiene la tarea de encontrar al asesino del hombre del puente. Sus únicas pruebas: el conjunto de huellas de bicicleta que acaban abruptamente. Sus sospechosos: un reparto pintoresco que incluye a un testigo tímido y de voz suave, un médico respetado de Londres, un guionista, un trabajador desempleado y un artista de variedades especializado en ilusiones, un grupo animado cuyas actividades discutibles van a mantener al lector intentando adivinar hasta el último giro de esta bien tramada novela policíaca. (Fuente: Goodreads)

Mi opinión: Murder by Matchlight está ambientada en el Londres de la guerra. Durante un apagón, dos hombres son testigos de un asesinato en Regent’s Park. Bruce Mallaig, uno de los testigos, vio a la víctima encendiendo un cigarrillo mientras estaba de pie cerca de una pasarela. Durante el momento en que la luz de la cerilla iluminó el rostro de la víctima, éste pudo ver brevemente el rostro del asesino. Cuando se apagó la luz, escuchó un ruido sordo seguido del sonido de un cuerpo cayendo. Inicialmente la policía se mostró bastante escéptica sobre las versiones de los testigos, pero se aceptan al pie de la letra, ya que no se contradicen entre sí. La víctima, según su cédula de identidad, fue identificada como John Ward y el caso fue entregado inmediatamente al inspector jefe Macdonald para que lo investigara. Lo más sorprendente de todo este asunto es que pronto se descubre que John Ward es una identidad falsa, lo que sin duda dificultará mucho la investigación del caso.

Hay muchas cosas buenas que decir sobre esta novela más que interesante que tiene un comienzo magnífico. Un asesinato cometido frente a dos testigos que puede considerarse un crimen imposible, ya que ninguno de ellos escuchó los pasos que habrían delatado la presencia del asesino. Además, la historia encaja perfectamente en el escenario y la época en la que se desarrolla, y no podría haber sucedido fuera de circunstancias similares. La trama está muy bien estructurada y capta la atención del lector. No faltan los sospechosos, aunque los motivos del crimen no siempre resultan evidentes y también disfruté de la excelente descripción de los personajes, con la única excepción del inspector jefe Macdonald, cuya caracterización es muy pobre en mi opinión. Aunque sorprendente, no encontré muy convincente el desenlace y, tal vez, hay un gusto excesivo por los detalles a lo largo de la historia que puede resultar un poco aburrido ocasionalmente. De todos modos, fue una lectura muy entretenida.

Acerca del autor: Edith Caroline Rivett (1894-1958) (que escribió bajo los seudónimos de E.C.R. Lorac y Carol Carnac) fue una escritora policíaca británica. Nacida en Hendon, Middlesex (ahora Londres) el 6 de mayo de 1894, asistió a la South Hampstead High School y a la Central School of Arts and Crafts en Londres. Rivett fue miembro del Detection Club. Autora muy prolífica, escribió cuarenta y ocho misterios con su primer seudónimo y veintitrés con el segundo. Autora importante de la Edad de Oro de la ficción policíaca, permaneció soltera y vivió sus últimos años con su hermana mayor, Gladys Rivett (1891-1966), en Lonsdale, Lancashire. En sus últimos años, escribió varios misterios protagonizados por el inspector jefe Macdonald en el marco de Lune Valley, Lancashire. Rivett murió en el Caton Green Nursing Home, Caton-with-Littledale, cerca de Lancaster el 2 de julio de 1958. En el 2018, la Biblioteca Británica incluyó tres novelas de E.C.R. Lorac en su serie de obras reeditadas “British Library Crime Classics”, que incluyen Fire in the Thatch, Bats in the Belfry y Murder by Matchlight. La contraportada del reeditado, Fire in the Thatch: A Devon Mystery (publicado originalmente en 1946), dice: “sus libros han sido casi completamente olvidados a partir de su muerte, pero merecen ser redescubiertos como buenos ejemplos de la ficción policíaca británica clásica en su edad de oro”.

Hay veintitrés libros de Carol Carnac y cuarenta y ocho libros de ECR Lorac, el primero es The Murder on the Burrows, bajo el seudónimo de Lorac (Lorac es Carol escrito al revés), que fue publicado por Sampson Law en 1931. Presenta su principal personaje de la serie, el inspector jefe Robert Macdonald, ‘un London Scott’ y soltero al que le encanta caminar por la campiña inglesa. Macdonald tenía un ayudante, el inspector detective Reeves, que aparece en veintiocho de los cuarenta y seis libros de Macdonald. Eran un equipo formidable, aunque con distinta personalidad, como deben ser todas las buenas asociaciones de detectives literarios, se complementaban bien entre sí. Todos los libros de Lorac se publicaron por primera vez en Londres pero, increíblemente, veinticuatro títulos no se publicaron en Estados Unidos. El primer libro de Carol Carnac, Triple Death, fue publicado por Thornton Butterworth en 1936 y contó con el inspector Ryvet, el primero de tres personajes de la serie bajo el nombre de Carnac. Los otros dos personajes principales de Carnac fueron el inspector jefe Julian Rivers de Scotland Yard, que apareció en quince libros, y su ayudante, el inspector Lancing, que apareció en dieciocho casos (cuatro con Ryvet). En general, las novelas están bien tramadas y en el marco de un período de tiempo interesante. La única crítica real, la perenne en la literatura policíaca, es la falta de profundidad cromática y descriptiva del personaje principal de la serie. (Fuente: Classic Crime Fiction)

My Book Notes: I Could Murder Her apa Murder of a Martinet, 1951 (Robert MacDonald #34) by E.C.R. Lorac

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Popular Library New York. Format: ebook. Print length: 191 pages. Published by arrangement with Doubleday & Company Inc. Originally published in the UK by Collins Crime Cub, 1951, as Murder of a Martinet and in the US by Doubleday Crime Club, 1951, as I Could Murder Her.

13563689Synopsis: For a long time Muriel Farrington had ruled the lives of her children, gathering them all together, married or single, under the same roof in the old family mansion. She made a fetish of getting her own way, and like to do it gracefully if possible, but if there was any resistance she could always relay on the subtle effects of the time-honoured heart attack. Self-satisfied, and selfish beyond belief, she did not sense the bitter resentment that burned in the breast of her family, and was far realising the point of desperation which was leading inexorably to her own destruction. For Chief Inspector Macdonald this was not one of the easy cases, but it is one of E. C. R. Lorac’s best. (Source: Collins Crime Club)

My Take: Muriel Farrington was a selfish and domineering woman who liked to exercise a tight control over all members of her family. With the sole exception of her husband and her eldest son, from a previous marriage, they all despised her. But nobody never ever dared to face her and leaving was not an option. They all lived at her expense and almost none was determined to lead an independent life, without her financial support. Besides her mansion, Windermere House, she had a small fortune of her own. Within this context, one day Mrs. Farrington was found dead in her bed. Since she was believed to have a weak heart, everyone thinks she had had a heart attack and had died in her sleep. Her death did not appear to have been a surprise to anyone. However, their old family doctor, Dr Baring, had had a car crash the night before and, after being hospitalized, he passed away. In his place, Dr Scott, a young doctor who had previously expressed doubts about Mrs. Farrington’s possible heart condition, refuses to sign her death certificate. He had noticed something strange: a clear mark of a hypodermic injection in her left forearm. The autopsy reveals she had received a dose of insulin and, as she was not diabetic, her death was an inevitable result. Chief Inspector Macdonald and his assistant, Detective Inspector Reeves, must investigate the circumstances that surrounded her death.

I Could Murder Her, originally published in the UK as Murder of a Martinet, is hard to find, but can be accessed through the Open Library. My interest in this novel arose after reading Curtis Evans’ article in The Passing Tramp on Edith Caroline Rivett. I have found the story quite compelling, but not well developed, or at least quite uneven. In my opinion, it would have worked better as a novella or short story. In particular, I felt that several of its central chapters are too repetitive and could have been shortened without hurting the end result. Overall, I found it an interesting read that describes well the era in which it was written and in which the psychology of the characters plays a prominent role.

My rating: B (I liked it)

Murder of a Martinet apa I Could Murder Her has been reviewed, among others, at Mystery File, My Reader’s Block, and A Guide to Classic Mystery and Detection.

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(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Collins The Crime Club (UK), 1951)

About the Author: Edith Caroline Rivett wrote under the pseudonyms E.C.R. Lorac, Carol Carnac, Carol Rivett and Mary le Bourne. She was born in Hendon, Middlesex (now London), and she attended the South Hampstead High School, and the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London. A very prolific writer, Rivett wrote forty-eight mysteries under her first pen name (most of these books features her main series character, Chief Inspector Robert Macdonald, a “London Scot” and an avowed bachelor with a love for walking in the English countryside. In 28 of these books, he has the help of his assistant, Detective Inspector Reeves), and twenty-three under her second (they feature three different series characters. The first one is Inspector Ryvet. The other two are Chief Inspector Julian Rivers (who appears in 15 books), and his assistant, Inspector Lansing, who appears in 18 cases (four of them with Ryvet). She was a member of the Detection Club. Her books have been almost entirely neglected since her death, but deserve rediscovery as fine examples of classic British crime fiction in its golden age.

The forty-eight mysteries she wrote as E. C. R. Lorac are The Murder on the Burrows, 1931; The Affair at Thor’s Head, 1932; The Greenwell Mystery, 1932; Death on the Oxford Road, 1933; The Case of Colonel Marchand, 1933; Murder in St John’s Wood, 1934; Murder in Chelsea, 1934; The Organ Speaks, 1935; Death of an Author, 1935; Crime Counter Crime, 1936; Post after Post-Mortem, 1936; A Pall for a Painter, 1936; Bats in the Belfry, 1937; These Names Make Clues, 1937; The Devil and the C.I.D., 1938; Slippery Staircase, 1938; John Brown’s Body, 1938; Black Beadle, 1939 (Spanish title: La sombra del sacristán) ; Death at Dyke’s Corner, 1940; Tryst for a Tragedy, 1940; Case in the Clinic, 1941; Rope’s End, Rogue’s End, 1942; The Sixteenth Stair, 1942; Death Came Softly, 1943; Checkmate to Murder, 1944 (Spanish title: Jaque mate al asesino) ; Fell Murder, 1944; Murder by Matchlight, 1945; Fire in the Thatch, 1946; The Theft of the Iron Dogs, 1946 (US Title: Murderer’s Mistake, 1947); Relative to Poison, 1947; Death before Dinner, 1948 (US Title: A Screen for Murder, 1948) (Spanish title: La muerte antes de comer); Part for a Poisoner, 1948 (US Title: Place for a Poisoner, 1949); Still Waters, 1949; Policemen on the Precinct, 1949 (US Title: And Then Put Out the Light, 1950); Accident by Design, 1950; Murder of a Martinet, 1951 (US Title: I Could Murder Her, 1951); The Dog It Was That Died, 1952 (Spanish title: Y el perro fue el que murió); Murder in the Mill-Race , 1952 (US Title: Speak Justly of the Dead, 1953); Crook O’Lune , 1953 (US Title: Shepherd’s Crook, 1953); Shroud of Darkness, 1954; Let Well Alone, 1954; Ask a Policeman, 1955; Murder in Vienna, 1956; Picture of Death, 1957; Dangerous Domicile, 1957; Death in Triplicate, 1958 (US Title: People Will Talk, 1958) (Spanish title: Muerte por triplicado); Murder on a Monument, 1958; and Dishonour among Thieves, 1959 (US Title: The Last Escape, 1959).

Availability: To the best of my knowledge The British Library Crime Classics have published by now Bats in the Belfry: A London Mystery, 2018; Fire in the Thatch: A Devon Mystery, 2018; Murder in the Mill-Race: A Devon Mystery, 2019; Fell Murder: A Lancashire Mystery, 2019; Murder by Matchlight, 2019; and Checkmate to Murder: A Second World War Mystery, 2020. In addition to one Carol Carnac, Crossed Skis: An Alpine Mystery, 2020. Besides, the following titles are available in e-book format by Reading Essentials: Rope’s End Rogue’s End (1942), Death Came Softly (1943), Murderer’s Mistake (1946), Accident by Design (1950) and Murder in Vienna (1956). A few other titles are available to borrow from Open Library.

Edith Caroline Rivett (1894-1958), aka ECR Lorac and Carol Carnac

E.C.R. Lorac (1894-1958) by Carol Westron

I Could Murder Her aka Murder of a Martinet, de E. C. R. Lorac

Sinopsis: Durante mucho tiempo Muriel Farrington había dominado la vida de sus hijos, agrupándolos a todos, casados ​​o solteros, bajo el mismo techo en la vieja mansión familiar. Convirtiendo el salirse con la suya en un fetiche, y le gusta hacerlo sin problemas si es posible, pero si existía alguna resistencia, siempre podía confiar en los sutiles efectos del viejo recurso del infarto. Satisfecha consigo misma y egoísta hasta extremos inconcebibles, no se daba cuenta del amargo resentimiento que bullía en el pecho de su familia, y estaba lejos de darse cuenta del punto de desesperación que conducía inexorablemente a su propia destrucción. Para el inspector jefe Macdonald, este no fue uno de sus casos más fáciles, pero es uno de los mejores de E. C. R. Lorac. (Fuente: Collins Crime Club)

Mi opinión: Muriel Farrington era una mujer egoísta y dominante a la que le gustaba ejercer un control estricto sobre todos los miembros de su familia. Con la única excepción de su marido y de su hijo mayor, de un matrimonio anterior, todos la despreciaban. Pero nadie jamás se atrevió a enfrentarse a ella y marcharse no era una opción. Todos vivían a expensas de ella y casi ninguno estaba decidido a llevar una vida independiente, sin su apoyo económico. Además de su mansión, Windermere House, tenía una pequeña fortuna propia. En este contexto, un día la Sra. Farrington fue encontrada muerta en su cama. Como se creía que tenía un corazón débil, todos piensan que había tenido un infarto y había muerto mientras dormía. Su muerte no pareció sorprender a nadie. Sin embargo, su antiguo médico de cabecera, el Dr. Baring, había sufrido un accidente automovilístico la noche anterior y, tras ser hospitalizado, falleció. En su lugar, el Dr. Scott, un joven médico que previamente había expresado dudas sobre la posible afección cardíaca de la Sra. Farrington, se niega a firmar su certificado de defunción. Había notado algo extraño: una marca clara de una inyección hipodérmica en su antebrazo izquierdo. La autopsia revela que había recibido una dosis de insulina y, como no era diabética, su muerte fue un resultado inevitable. El inspector jefe Macdonald y su asistente, el inspector Reeves, deben investigar las circunstancias que rodearon su muerte.

I Could Murder Her, publicado originalmente en el Reino Unido como Murder of a Martinet, es difícil de encontrar, pero se puede acceder a esta novela a través de Open Library. Mi interés en ella surgió después de leer el artículo de Curtis Evans en The Passing Tramp sobre Edith Caroline Rivett. He encontrado la historia bastante convincente, pero no bien desarrollada, o al menos bastante desigual. En mi opinión, hubiera funcionado mejor como novela corta o relato breve. En particular, sentí que varios de sus capítulos centrales son demasiado repetitivos y podrían haber sido abreviados sin dañar el resultado final. En general, me pareció una lectura interesante que describe bien la época en la que se escribió y en la que la psicología de los personajes juega un papel destacado.

Mi valoración: B (Me gustó)

Acerca del autor: Edith Caroline Rivett escribió bajo los seudónimos E.C.R. Lorac, Carol Carnac, Carol Rivett y Mary le Bourne. Nació en Hendon, Middlesex (ahora Londres), y asistió a la South Hampstead High School y a la Central School of Arts and Crafts en Londres. Rivett, una escritora muy prolífica, escribió cuarenta y ocho misterios con su primer seudónimo (la mayoría de estos libros protagonizados por el personaje principal de su serie, el inspector jefe Robert Macdonald, un “escocés de Londres” y un soltero confeso a quien le gusta caminar por la campiña inglesa . En 28 de estos libros, cuenta con la ayuda de su asistente, el detective inspector Reeves), y veintitrés bajo del segundo (que cuentan con tres personajes principales diferentes. El primero es el inspector Ryvet. Los otros dos son el inspector jefe Julian Rivers. (que aparece en 15 libros), y su asistente, el inspector Lansing, que aparece en 18 casos (cuatro de ellos con Ryvet). Fue miembro del Detection Club. Sus libros fueron casi completamente olvidados a partir de su muerte, pero merecen su redescubrimiento como buenos ejemplos de la clásica novela policíaca británica en su edad de oro.

Los cuarenta y ocho misterios que escribió como E. C. R. Lorac son The Murder on the Burrows, 1931; The Affair at Thor’s Head, 1932; The Greenwell Mystery, 1932; Death on the Oxford Road, 1933; The Case of Colonel Marchand, 1933; Murder in St John’s Wood, 1934; Murder in Chelsea, 1934; The Organ Speaks, 1935; Death of an Author, 1935; Crime Counter Crime, 1936; Post after Post-Mortem, 1936; A Pall for a Painter, 1936; Bats in the Belfry, 1937; These Names Make Clues, 1937; The Devil and the C.I.D., 1938; Slippery Staircase, 1938; John Brown’s Body, 1938; Black Beadle, 1939 (Spanish title: La sombra del sacristán) ; Death at Dyke’s Corner, 1940; Tryst for a Tragedy, 1940; Case in the Clinic, 1941; Rope’s End, Rogue’s End, 1942; The Sixteenth Stair, 1942; Death Came Softly, 1943; Checkmate to Murder, 1944 (Spanish title: Jaque mate al asesino) ; Fell Murder, 1944; Murder by Matchlight, 1945; Fire in the Thatch, 1946; The Theft of the Iron Dogs, 1946 (US Title: Murderer’s Mistake, 1947); Relative to Poison, 1947; Death before Dinner, 1948 (US Title: A Screen for Murder, 1948) (Spanish title: La muerte antes de comer); Part for a Poisoner, 1948 (US Title: Place for a Poisoner, 1949); Still Waters, 1949; Policemen on the Precinct, 1949 (US Title: And Then Put Out the Light, 1950); Accident by Design, 1950; Murder of a Martinet, 1951 (US Title: I Could Murder Her, 1951); The Dog It Was That Died, 1952 (Spanish title: Y el perro fue el que murió); Murder in the Mill-Race , 1952 (US Title: Speak Justly of the Dead, 1953); Crook O’Lune , 1953 (US Title: Shepherd’s Crook, 1953); Shroud of Darkness, 1954; Let Well Alone, 1954; Ask a Policeman, 1955; Murder in Vienna, 1956; Picture of Death, 1957; Dangerous Domicile, 1957; Death in Triplicate, 1958 (US Title: People Will Talk, 1958) (Spanish title: Muerte por triplicado); Murder on a Monument, 1958; and Dishonour among Thieves, 1959 (US Title: The Last Escape, 1959).

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