Milward Kennedy (1894 – 1968)

OIP (1)Aka John Frederick Burke, Jonathan Burke, Owen Burke, Robert Milward Burke, Evelyn Elder, Harriet Esmond, John Frederick, Jonathan George, Joanna Jones, Sara Morris, Martin Sands. Milward Rodon Kennedy Burge (21 June 1894 – 1968) was an English civil servant, journalist, crime writer and literary critic. He was educated at Winchester College and New College, Oxford. He served with British Military Intelligence in World War I and then worked for the International Labor Office and the Egyptian government. He was London editor of the Empire Digest and reviewed mystery fiction for The Sunday Times and The Guardian. He retired in the 1960s to West Sussex. Burge married Georgina Lee in 1921 and in 1926 after her death married Eveline Schrieber Billiat in 1926. Kennedy specialised in police mysteries, but also wrote about the adventures of Sir George Bull, a professional private investigator. He also collaborated with other members of The Detection Club on The Floating Admiral and Ask a Policeman. His series characters are Sir George Bull and Inspector Cornford.

Bibliography: The Bleston Mystery with A. G. Macdonell (1928), The Corpse on the Mat aka Man who Rang the Bell (1929), Corpse Guard Parade (1929), Half Mast Murder (1930), Death in a Deck-Chair (1930), Death to the Rescue (1931), The Floating Admiral with members of The Detection Club (1931), The Murderer of Sleep (1932), Bull’s Eye (1933), Ask a Policeman with members of The Detection Club (1933), Corpse in Cold Storage (1934), Poison in the Parish (1935), Sic Transit Gloria aka Scornful Corpse (1936), I’ll be Judge, I’ll be Jury (1937), It Began in New York (1943), Escape to Quebec (1946) and The Top Boot (1950)
As Evelyn Elder: Murder in Black and White (1931), Angel in the Case (1932) and Two’s Company (1952)

Martin Edwards’ articles on Milward Kennedy are at ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’.

Articles on Milward Kennedy at Mystery File.

JJ’s article on Evelyn Elder at The Invisible Event.


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

Published in 1930, it is a country house murder case, boasting three plans, including one of the octagonal summer house in which Professor Paley, an expert on the subject of international relations, is found stabbed to death. The summer house is locked, but Superintendent Guest soon establishes that the victim was murdered, and the ‘locked room’ element of the story is quite minor. The flag above the summer house is flying at half-mast – but why? The explanation for this aspect of the story is a pretty good one. (Martin Edwards)

Summary: Professor Paley, an important political figure and writer, who doesn’t believe in war and therefore has few friends, fails to make it to tea one afternoon. This, it transpires, is not because he has been absorbed in writing as usual, but because he has been fatally stabbed. The key is inside the room and the door is locked – and yet it quickly becomes clear that this isn’t suicide. How did the killer do it? Is the motive political or personal? And why is almost everybody in the household behaving rather suspiciously? Superintendent Guest is the stolid investigator, but underneath his calm exterior he is inwardly perturbed by the high-profile of the case, the political and literary arena into which he is unwillingly thrust (and without the appropriate gentlemanly attire) and the fact that pressure is being brought for Scotland Yard to swoop in and claim the honours; not to mention the uncooperativeness of the suspects and the mystery of the vanishing man with a highly suspicious beard.

Half-Mast Murder has been reviewed, among others, at ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’

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