My Book Notes: The Cases of Lieutenant Timothy Trant (2019), by Q. Patrick (Richard Webb and Hugh Wheeler)

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Crippen & Landru, Publishers, 2019. Book Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 1398 KB. Print Length: 226 pages. ASIN: B07X3LG4LT. ISBN (trade softcover edition): 978-1-936363-30-8 Edited by Curtis Evans and Douglas G. Greene.

51DaqFmsScL._SY346_Book Details: This is the second collection of stories from Crippen & Landru to feature the works of Richard Webb and Hugh Wheeler, who were better known under their three pseudonyms, Q. Patrick, Patrick Quentin, and Jonathan Stagge. These stories, most of which were written between 1946 1940 and 1955 primarily for This Week and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, feature Lt. Timothy Trant, the New York homicide detective. Trant appeared in three novels early in the careers of the two men as works by Q Patrick, and would later return at the end of the Peter Duluth series under the Patrick Quentin name in Black Widow, where Duluth is the main suspect. As Webb’s health declined, most of these short works (and the later novels,) would be written by Wheeler alone. This is the first time that many of these stories have seen print, since their original publication over 50 years ago. This edition contains an introduction by mystery historian Curtis Evans.

My Take: The Cases of Lieutenant Timothy Trant gathers all of the known  detective tales featuring Lt. Timothy Trant published by Webb and Wheeler under the Q. Patrick pseudonym. The tales  originally appeared in print in magazines and newspapers. After the introduction by mystery historian Curtis Evans, the volume opens with a brief biographical entry on Lt. Timothy Trant penned by Webb and Wheeler. Two of the stories are novellas in length (‘She Wrote Finis’ and ‘The Wrong Envelope’).  Most of them are ingenious, highly entertaining and take place mainly in the city of New York, though some unfold on European settings, like Venice, Switzerland and the French Rivera. It is worth noting that two of the stories (‘Girl Overboard’ and ‘Murder in the Alps’) are essentially the same, albeit the plot takes place in a different environment. (Source: The Cases of Lieutenant Timothy Trant (2019), by Q. Patrick (Richard Webb and Hugh Wheeler) at The Passing Tramp by Curtis Evans)

‘She Wrote Finis’. Roberts Boyer and Leslie Cole are getting ready to attend Minna Lucas’ party. Cole was the editor who discovered Robert Boyer’s first novel and made it a huge success. In the old days, Minna had been Robert’s secretary and shared an apartment with Leslie and Feith Felton, but that’s history. Due to a terrible car accident, which disfigured her face and broke her betrothal, Minna was transformed into a bitter person. Furthermore, her failure to become a successful novelist has not helped her much either. She now feels herself frustrated, embittered and resentful towards everyone. More so, when all those who were in some way related to Boyer’s first novel, except her, had achieved professional success. However, when they arrive at Minna’s house, all the guests are already there, except for Minna herself, who has had to attend an urgent business. But much to everyone surprise, Minna’s body appears and everything seems to indicate she has taken her life. Lt. Trant takes over the investigation.

‘White Carnations’. A beautiful young woman goes to visit Lieutenant Timothy Trant. She is Angela Forrest. Nine years ago they danced together at their prom. Now she needs his help. Her uncle, Colonel John Forrest, was the first. He died six months ago on his birthday. He shot himself with his own revolver when the whole family had come to celebrate. The first thing they saw when entering the living room were the white carnations. Last February, her aunt, Mrs Lucia Dean, also died on her birthday. Her family is always in the habit of getting together to celebrate the birthdays. In this case it was said that it had been an accident, but someone had also sent her a bouquet of white carnations. Today is Angela Forrest’s birthday. She has just received a bunch of flowers, of white carnations, and she is terrified.

‘The Plaster Cat’. Lt. Timothy Trant stops his car to pick up Doc Sanders at seven o’clock in the morning. In this case it isn’t murder, it’s an accident, or so they tell him, at the Ruskin School for Girls, the most exclusive school for girls in town. The victim turns out to be Madeline Winters, daughter of Ambassador Winters.

‘The Corpse in the Closet’. Lt. Timothy Trant is late, as usual, at a party held by his sister Freda to introduce him to Celia Prentis. He arrived when Celia is almost ready to leave, but the one who really catches Trant’s attention is Celia’s poor cousin, her roommate Sue Spender. Sue has just found a piece of paper that someone has put into her purse. The message, roughly written in pencil, reads: “This is a warning. Take some serviceable male home with you from the party and get there at eight –unless you want to find a corpse in your closet.”

‘Farewell Performance’. Lt. Timothy Trant allowed Gay Killian, America’s best and lovely actress and Robert Prentice, her new leading man, to attend Gay’s farewell performance, despite the fact that a man was murdered at her apartment. The body was soon identified as Henry Walgrove, a commission agent from Boston. In his pocket were two round-trip tickets to Boston dated that day, a driver’s licence, some petty cash, two tickets for Gay Killian’s Medea performance that night and a snapshot of a middle-aged in a swimming suit, inscribed Lila at Narraganset. Most interesting was a type-written note which read: “
Darling, Darling: It looks as though we’ll get it at last–and plenty of it. Gay sees this young Prentice every night. Night and day he is the one! And she doesn’t hide her infatuation, from her friends, her dresser, her maid, her secretary–anyone. So hope on, hope ever and I’ll soon be your own. –L.”

‘The Wrong Envelope’. A few days before her wedding Kate Laurence receives a letter from her best friend Angelica. She had asked her to be matron of honor, but the letter, sent probably in the wrong envelop, was intended to Martin and, for  its content, she discovers the infidelity of her soon-to-be husband with her best friend.

‘Murder in One Scene’. Lt. Timothy Trant receives one day quite a personal and interesting communication in an envelope of an impersonal and unexciting charitable organization. He soon realises that a mistake must have been made with the envelopes but, as an offcier of the law, Trant finds his duty to investigate.

‘Town Blonde, Country Blonde’. Lt. Timothy Trant finds himself studying two blondes warily. One of them had just shot Joseph C. Cook III dead in his own living rom with his own Colt 32. However, he was disconcerted for he still hadn’t the faintest notion who had been the real culprit. 

‘Who Killed the Mermaid?’. Lt Timothy Trant carefully examines the passengers sharing with him his train compartment in the last car. Uncomfortable by the way one of his fellow passengers looks at him, he leaves the compartment for a while. Upon his return, the passenger has been strangled with his own tie. Apart form himself and the murdered man, there were only three other passengers. 

‘Woman of Ice’. Lt. Timothy Trant is in Venice where a woman called his attention. He believes to have seen her before but he can’t remember when or where. When he is recognised by some old friends, the unknown woman happens to be the paid-nurse of the wife of one of them. That night his friend’s wife is found dead.

‘Death and Canasta’. A woman called Arlene Wentworth asks Lt. Timothy Trant to join a canasta game to make a fourth.

‘Death on Saturday Night’. After a nice day of skiing vacation, Lt. Timothy Trant arrives at Dr Benton’s office. At the entrance he meets a spectacular blonde and wishes that she could be another guest of the Bentons. They both make it to the second floor together and Dr Benton introduces him to Miss Rogers, a patient. When she leaves, Dr Benton tells Trant his wife is at the movies and she will be back any minute. While Dr Benton collects his instruments, the phone rings and he asks Trant to answer. It is Mrs. Dolly Benton to tell her husband not to bother picking her up, she will go straight to the car in the parking lot to get back home soon. After a few minutes, the phone rang again. This time Dr Benton answers it. It is some hysterical woman saying there is dead body in the car park.

‘Death on the Riviera’. Lt. Timothy Trant is in France as one of a delegation of detectives to study police methods at the Sûreté. Finding himself in the mood to do something pleasant and unorthodox, he manages to sneak out to spend a weekend in Cannes. There he meets a young woman in the casino who had gambled and lost everything she had. Then she learns from her she was running away from her husband, who had tried to kill her.

‘Girl Overboard’. Young Lt. Trent is aboard the S.S. Queen Anne, having spent a month in Europe on vacation. Among the passengers is Mavis Mariner, England’s newest, sexiest and probably least talented movie star. One morning when one of the stewardess brings Mavis her morning tea at seven, she finds her cabin empty and locked. Mavis Mariner has disappeared.

‘This Looks Like Murder’. Lt. Trant picked up the insistent phone in the squad room. “Police!” gasped a woman’s voice. “This is Marian Alberts –640 East Seventy-eight. Come, come quickly. She shot me.” Then from the other end of the line came the startling sound of a Strauss waltz

‘Death Before Breakfast’. Lt. Trant followed the weary gait of Minnie, his sister’s dachshund. When an arctic wind whipped across his face, Minnie paused imperturbably to inspect a sheet of newspaper which had floated to a stop at their side. The park was almost deserted. They only came across a blind man and her dog. Sometimes they were accompanied by a pretty girl, but today they were alone. After a while, Trant headed toward a group of people that swirled around an excavation hole. In the bottom lay the body of the blind man. His dog, moaning desperately, was crouched next to him

‘Death at the Fair’. Lt. Trant is at the races with his small nephew. A man, obviously very drunk, leans against the paddock rail before the start of the second race of the afternoon. He smiles foolishly up at a pig-shaped yellow balloon that he has tied on his wrist. Trant’s nephew wants a yellow balloon like that one, the one he has is red.

‘The Glamorous Opening’.Lt. Trant sat in the Macready Theatre, waiting for the curtain to rise. Next to him sat Dodo Mulligan. Dodo realised that Hunt Brickell, the Standard’s play critic, had arrived after all. The young woman with him, his wife, had fallen in love with Larry Race, the author of the play. Race is penniless. A bad review from Hunt will kill him. Despite the fact that Trant was enjoying the play, he couldn’t help thinking that it was a classic murder set-up, in which the wife or the playwright should obviously kill the husband before his lethal review reached the papers.

‘Murder on the Alps’. It is an identical story to ‘Girl Overboard’, albeit in a different setting.

‘On the Day of the Rose Show’.  Lt. Trant was on vacation sitting at the terrace of his sister Freda’s Connecticut home when the phone rang. Trant knew that the local club rose show was being held at Mrs. Weiderbacker’s that same afternoon. He also knew that Mrs. Weiderbacker was going to read Freda’s inaugural address as a proxy since her sister, who had just been re-elected president, had to stay home and nurse a summer cold. However, even though Freda yesterday mailed her the speech, Mrs. Weiderbacker now was calling to tell it hadn’t arrived yet.

‘Going … Going … Gone!’. Lt. Trant was enjoying a weekend with his new friend, the mystery writer Fred King. He had enjoyed meeting Fred’s uncle. Avery Hapgood, the great art dealer. He had enjoyed reading Fred’s latest manuscript, even though it had kept him up half the night. Most of all he was enjoying Loretta Milton’s company, a New York career girl, attractive and very feminine instead of frightening and chic. Loretta and Trant were heading to an auction. In Loretta’s words the auction was all junk –except for Mr Hapgoog’s four paperweights, but she had discovered a framed picture, the picture was a monstrosity, but the frame would make an exceptional mirror.

‘Lioness vs. Panther’.  Lt. Trant had been dragged to the First Night by his fashionable sister. But now he was there he was having a great time. From the first two acts it was obvious that the comedy was going to be a smash hit. As the third act got under way, Trant settled leisurely in his seat, marvelling at the play’s world-famous co-stars –Clementina Coldwater, a tawny, majestic lioness, and Loretta Lamb, sleek and deadly as a panther.

This collection of tales serves as a great introduction to Lt. Timothy Trant novels. Among my favorites are the two novella length stories. Some tales are extremely short and their theme is repeated in some cases, yet they are all really enjoyable to read and highly entertaining. It is not necessary to read them all in one go, they can be enjoyed in short intervals at any time we may have available. They are like sketches by great painters drawn in anticipation of their great masterpieces, and consequently they are truly fascinating. Some of my favourite stories, in addition to the two already mentioned, are: ‘White Carnations’; ‘The Plaster Cat?’; ‘Farewell Performance’; ‘Murder in One Scene’; ‘Town Blonde, Country Blonde’; ‘Woman of Ice’; ‘This Looks Like Murder’ and ‘Death at the Fair’.

The Cases of Lieutenant Timothy Trant has been reviewed by Brad at ahsweetmysteryblog.

About the Author: Patrick Quentin, Q. Patrick and Jonathan Stagge were pen names under which Hugh Callingham Wheeler (19 March 1912 – 26 July 1987), Richard Wilson Webb (August 1901 – December 1966), Martha Mott Kelly (30 April 1906–2005) and Mary Louise White Aswell (3 June 1902 – 24 December 1984) wrote detective fiction. In some foreign countries their books have been published under the variant Quentin Patrick. Most of the stories were written by Webb and Wheeler in collaboration, or by Wheeler alone. Their most famous creation is the amateur sleuth Peter Duluth. In 1963, the story collection The Ordeal of Mrs. Snow was given a Special Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America.

Lieutenant Trant  features in the long form mysteries Death for Dear Clara as Q. Patrick (1937), The File on Claudia Cragge as Q. Patrick (1938), Death and the Maiden as Q. Patrick (1939), Black Widow as Patrick Quentin (1952), My Son, the Murderer as Patrick Quentin (1954), The Man with Two Wives as Patrick Quentin (1955), Shadow of Guilt as Patrick Quentin(1959) and Family Skeletons as Patrick Quentin (1965)–the last five of these written by Hugh Wheeler alone. 

Patrick Quentin, Q. Patrick and Jonathan Stagge bibliography

Crippen and Landru publicity page

Read more about Patrick Quentin, Q. Patrick and Jonathan Stagge at The Passing Tramp, at Mystery File, and at Mike Grost.

The Actress, the Steward and the Ocean Liner: What Really Happen in Cabin 126? by Curtis Evans

Los casos del teniente Timothy Trant de Q. Patrick

Detalles del libro: Esta es la segunda colección de relatos de Crippen & Landru de obras de Richard Webb y Hugh Wheeler, quienes fueron más conocidos por sus tres seudónimos, Q. Patrick, Patrick Quentin y Jonathan Stagge. Estos relatos, la mayoría de ellos escritos entre 1946, 1940 y 1955, principalmente para This Week y Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, están protagonizados por al teniente detective de homicidios de Nueva York, Timothy Trant. Trant apareció en tres novelas al principio de la carrera de los dos hombres como obras de Q Patrick, y luego regresaría al final de la serie de Peter Duluth con el nombre de Patrick Quentin en Black Widow, donde Duluth es el principal sospechoso. A medida que la salud de Webb se deterioró, la mayoría de estos relatos cortos (y las novelas posteriores) fueron escritos por Wheeler solo. Esta es la primera vez que se imprimen muchos de estos relatos, desde su publicación original hace más de 50 años. Esta edición contiene una introducción por el historiador de misterios Curtis Evans.

Mi opinión: Los casos del teniente Timothy Trant reúne todos los relatos de detectives conocidos protagonizados por el teniente Timothy Trant publicados por Webb y Wheeler bajo el seudónimo de Q. Patrick. Los cuentos aparecieron originalmente impresos en revistas y periódicos. Después de la introducción del historiador de misterios Curtis Evans, el volumen comienza con una breve entrada biográfica sobre el teniente Timothy Trant escrita por Webb y Wheeler. Dos de las historias son novelas cortas (‘She Wrote Finis’ y ‘The Wrong Envelope’). La mayoría de ellas son ingeniosas, muy entretenidas y tienen lugar principalmente en la ciudad de Nueva York, aunque algunas se desarrollan en escenarios europeos, como Venecia, Suiza y la Rivera francesa. Vale la pena señalar que dos de los relatos (‘Girl Overboard’ and ‘Murder in the Alps’)son esencialmente iguales, aunque la trama se desarrolla en un entorno diferente. (Fuente:  The Cases of Lieutenant Timothy Trant (2019), by Q. Patrick (Richard Webb and Hugh Wheeler) at The Passing Tramp by Curtis Evans)

‘She Wrote Finis’. Roberts Boyer y Leslie Cole se preparan para asistir a la fiesta de Minna Lucas. Cole fue el editor que descubrió la primera novela de Robert Boyer y la convirtió en un gran éxito. En los viejos tiempos, Minna había sido la secretaria de Robert y compartía apartamento con Leslie y Feith Felton, pero eso es historia. Debido a un terrible accidente automovilístico, que desfiguró su rostro y rompió su compromiso, Minna se transformó en una persona amargada. Además, su fracaso por convertirse en una novelista de éxito tampoco le ha ayudado mucho. Ahora se siente frustrada, amargada y resentida con todos. Más aún, cuando todos los que de alguna manera estaban relacionados con la primera novela de Boyer, excepto ella, habían alcanzado el éxito profesional. Sin embargo, cuando llegan a la casa de Minna, todos los invitados ya están allí, excepto la propia Minna, que ha tenido que atender un asunto urgente. Pero para sorpresa de todos, aparece el cuerpo de Minna y todo parece indicar que se ha quitado la vida. El teniente Trant se hace cargo de la investigación.

‘White Carnations’ Una hermosa joven visita al teniente Timothy Trant. Es Angela Forrest. Hace nueve años bailaron juntos en su fiesta de graduación. Ahora ella necesita su ayuda. Su tío, el coronel John Forrest, fue el primero. Murió hace seis meses el día de su cumpleaños. Se disparó con su propio revólver cuando toda la familia había venido para celebrarlo. Lo primero que vieron al entrar al salón fueron los claveles blancos. En febrero pasado, su tía, la Sra. Lucia Dean, también murió el día de su cumpleaños. Su familia siempre tiene la costumbre de reunirse para celebrar los cumpleaños. En este caso se dijo que había sido un accidente, pero alguien también le había enviado un ramo de claveles blancos. Hoy es el cumpleaños de Angela Forrest. Acaba de recibir un ramo de flores, de claveles blancos, y está aterrorizada.

‘The Plaster Cat’. El teniente Timothy Trant para su automovil para recoger a Doc Sanders a las siete de la mañana. En este caso no es un asesinato, es un accidente, o eso le dicen, en la Escuela de señoritas Ruskin, la escuela para señoritas más exclusiva de la ciudad. La víctima resulta ser Madeline Winters, hija del embajador Winters.

‘The Corpse in the Closet’. El teniente Timothy Trant llega tarde, como de costumbre, a una fiesta organizada por su hermana Freda para presentarle a Celia Prentis. Llegó cuando Celia estaba casi preparada para marcharse, pero quien realmente llama la atención de Trant es la pobre prima de Celia, su compañera de cuarto Sue Spender. Sue acaba de encontrar un trozo de papel que alguien ha puesto en su bolso. El mensaje, escrito a lápiz, dice: “Esto es una advertencia. Llévate a casa algún hombre servicial de la fiesta y llega a las ocho, a menos que quieras encontrar un cadáver en tu armario“.

‘Farewell Performance’. El teniente Timothy Trant permitió que Gay Killian, la mejor y má encantadora actriz de los Estados Unidos, y Robert Prentice, su nuevo protagonista, asistieran a la función de despedida de Gay, a pesar de que un hombre fue asesinado en su apartamento. El cuerpo pronto fue identificado como Henry Walgrove, un comisionista de Boston. En su bolsillo había dos billetes de ida y vuelta a Boston con fecha de ese día, un permiso de conducir, algo de dinero en efectivo, dos entradas para la actuación de Gay Killian en Medea esa noche y una foto de una mujer de mediana edad en traje de baño, con la inscripción Lila en Narraganset. Lo más interesante fue una nota escrita a máquina que decía: “Querida, querida: parece que por fin lo conseguiremos, y en abundancia. Gay ve a este joven Prentice todas las noches. ¡Noche y día él es el indicado! Y no esconde su apasionamiento, de sus amigos, de su ayudante de camerino, de su criada, de su secretaria, de nadie. Así que espera, espera siempre y pronto seré tuyo. –L. ”

‘The Wrong Envelope’. Unos días antes de su boda, Kate Laurence recibe una carta de su mejor amiga Angélica. Ella le había pedido ser dama de honor, pero la carta, enviada probablemente en el sobre equivocado, iba dirigida a Martin y, por su contenido, descubre la infidelidad de su futuro esposo con su mejor amiga.

 ‘Murder in One Scene’. El teniente Timothy Trant recibe un día una comunicación bastante personal e interesante en un sobre de una organización caritativa impersonal y poco emocionante. Pronto se da cuenta de que se debe haber cometido un error con los sobres pero, como oficial de la ley, Trant tiene el deber de investigar.

‘Town Blonde, Country Blonde’. El teniente Timothy Trant se encuentra estudiando a dos rubias con cautela. Una de ellas acababa de matar a Joseph C. Cook III en su propia sala de estar con su propio Colt 32. Sin embargo, estaba desconcertado porque todavía no tenía la menor idea de quién había sido la verdadera culpable.

‘Who Killed the Mermaid?’ El teniente Timothy Trant examina detenidamente a los pasajeros que comparten con él su compartimento de tren en el último vagón. Incómodo por la forma en que uno de sus compañeros de viaje lo mira, abandona el compartimento por un rato. A su regreso, el pasajero ha sido estrangulado con su propia corbata. Aparte de él y del asesinado, solo había otros tres pasajeros..

‘Woman of Ice. El teniente Timothy Trant se encuentra en Venecia donde una mujer le llamó la atención. Cree haberla visto antes, pero no recuerda cuándo ni dónde. Cuando es reconocido por unos viejos amigos, la mujer desconocida resulta ser la enfermera a sueldo de lamujer de uno de ellos. Esa noche encuentran muerta a la mujer de su amigo.

‘Death and Canasta’. Una mujer llamada Arlene Wentworth le pide al teniente Timothy Trant si quiere unirse a un juego de canasta para ser el cuarto.

‘Death on Saturday Night’. Después de un agradable día de vacaciones esquiando, el teniente Timothy Trant llega a la oficina del Dr. Benton. En la entrada conoce a una rubia espectacular y desea que ella pueda ser otra invitada de los Benton. Ambos llegan juntos al segundo piso y el Dr. Benton le presenta a la señorita Rogers, una paciente. Cuando se marcha, el Dr. Benton le dice a Trant que su mujer está en el cine y que volverá en cualquier momento. Mientras el Dr. Benton recoge su instrumental, suena el teléfono y le pide a Trant que conteste. Es la Sra. Dolly Benton para decirle a su marido que no se moleste en recogerla, que irá directamente al auto en el estacionamiento para regresar a casa pronto. Después de unos minutos, el teléfono volvió a sonar. Esta vez el Dr. Benton responde. Es una mujer histérica que dice que hay un cadáver en el aparcamiento.

‘Death on the Riviera’. El teniente Timothy Trant se encuentra en Francia como miembro de una delegación de detectives para estudiar los métodos policiales en la Sûreté. Encontrándose de humor por hacer algo agradable y poco ortodoxo, logra escabullirse para pasar un fin de semana en Cannes. Allí conoce a una joven en el casino que había apostado y perdido todo lo que tenía. Luego se entera de ella que estaba huyendo de su marido, que había intentado matarla.

‘Girl Overboard’. El joven teniente Trent se encuentra a bordo del S.S. Queen Anne, después de haber pasado un mes de vacaciones en Europa. Entre los pasajeros se encuentra Mavis Mariner, la estrella de cine más reciente, más sexy y probablemente con menos talento de Inglaterra. Una mañana, cuando una de las camareras le lleva el té de la mañana a Mavis a las siete, encuentra su camarote vacío y cerrado. Mavis Mariner ha desaparecido.

‘This Looks Like Murder’. El teniente Trant descolgó el insistente teléfono de la sala de la unidad. “¡Policía!” jadeó una voz de mujer. “Esta es Marian Alberts –640 Este con la Setenta y ocho. Vengan, vengan rápido. Me disparó”. Luego, desde el otro extremo del hilo, llegó el sorprendente sonido de un vals de Strauss.

‘Death Before Breakfast’. El teniente Trant siguió el paso cansado de Minnie, el perro salchicha de su hermana. Cuando un viento ártico azotó su rostro, Minnie se detuvo imperturbable para inspeccionar la hoja de un periódico que había flotado hasta detenerse a su lado. El parque estaba casi desierto. Solo se encontraron con un ciego y su perro. A veces iban acompañados de una chica guapa, pero hoy estaban solos. Después de un rato, Trant se dirigió hacia un grupo de personas que se arremolinaba alrededor de un foso de excavación. En el fondo yacía el cuerpo del ciego. Su perro, gimiendo desesperadamente, estaba agachado junto a él.

‘Death at the Fair’. El teniente Trant se encuentra en las carreras con su sobrino pequeño. Un hombre, evidentemente muy borracho, se apoya contra la barandilla del paddock antes del inicio de la segunda carrera de la tarde. Sonríe tontamente hacia un globo amarillo con forma de cerdo que se ha atado en la muñeca. El sobrino de Trant quiere un globo amarillo como ese, el que tiene es rojo.

‘The Glamorous Opening’. El teniente Trant se sentó en el Teatro Macready, esperando a que se levantara el telón. Junto a él estaba sentado Dodo Mulligan. Dodo se dio cuenta de que Hunt Brickell, el crítico de teatro del Standard, había llegado después de todo. La joven que lo acompañaba, su mujer, se había enamorado de Larry Race, el autor de la obra. Race no tiene dinero. Una mala crítica de Hunt lo matará. A pesar de que Trant estaba disfrutando de la obra, no pudo evitar pensar que se trataba de un clásico montaje de asesinato, en el que la mujer o el dramaturgo obviamente deberían matar al marido antes de que su crítica letal llegara a los periódicos.

‘Murder on the Alps’. Se trata de una historia idéntica a ‘Girl Overboard’, aunque en un escenario diferente.

‘On the Day of the Rose Show’. El teniente Trant estaba de vacaciones sentado en la terraza de la casa de Connecticut de su hermana Freda cuando sonó el teléfono. Trant sabía que la exposición de rosas del club local se llevaría a cabo en casa de la señora Weiderbacker esa misma tarde. También sabía que la señora Weiderbacker iba a leer el discurso inaugural de Freda en su lugar, ya que su hermana, que acababa de ser reelegida presidenta, tenía que quedarse en casa y cuidar un resfriado de verano. Sin embargo, a pesar de que Freda le envió el discurso ayer por correo, la Sra. Weiderbacker ahora estaba llamando para decir que aún no había llegado.

‘Going … Going … Gone!’. El teniente Trant estaba disfrutando de un fin de semana con su nuevo amigo, el escritor de misterio Fred King. Había disfrutado conociendo al tío de Fred. Avery Hapgood, el gran marchante de arte. Había disfrutado leyendo el último manuscrito de Fred, a pesar de que lo había mantenido despierto la mitad de la noche. Sobre todo, disfrutaba de la compañía de Loretta Milton, una mujer de carrera de Nueva York, atractiva y muy femenina en lugar de aterradora y elegante. Loretta y Trant se dirigían a una subasta. En palabras de Loretta, la subasta era todo basura, excepto los cuatro pisapapeles del Sr. Hapgoog, pero ella había descubierto un cuadro enmarcado, el cuadro era una monstruosidad, pero el marco podría servir para hacer un espejo excepcional.

‘Lioness vs. Panther’. El teniente Trant había sido arrastrado al estreno por su moderna y elegante hermana. Pero ahora que estaba allí se lo estaba pasando genial. Desde los dos primeros actos, era obvio que la comedia iba a ser un gran éxito. Cuando comenzó el tercer acto, Trant se recostó tranquilamente en su asiento, admirando a las coprotagonistas de fama mundial de la obra: Clementina Coldwater, una majestuosa leona de color rubio oscuro, y Loretta Lamb, estilizada y letal como una pantera.

Esta colección de cuentos nos sirve como una gran introducción a las novelas del teniente Timothy Trant. Entre mis favoritos están los dos relatos de la extensión de una novela corta. Algunos cuentos son extremadamente breves y su tema se repite en algunos casos, sin embargo todos son realmente agradables de leer y resultan sumamente entretenidos. No es necesario leerlos de una vez, se pueden disfrutar en intervalos cortos en cualquier momento que tengamos disponible. Son como bocetos de grandes pintores dibujados en anticipación a sus grandes obras maestras y, en consecuencia, son verdaderamente fascinantes. Algunos de mis relatos favoritos, además de los dos ya mencionados, son: White Carnations’; ‘The Plaster Cat?’; ‘Farewell Performance’; ‘Murder in One Scene’; ’Town Blonde, Country Blonde’; ‘Woman of Ice’; ‘This Looks Like Murder’ and ‘Death at the Fair’.

Acerca del autor: Patrick Quentin, Q. Patrick y Jonathan Stagge eran seudónimos bajo los cuales Hugh Callingham Wheeler (19 de marzo de 1912 – 26 de julio de 1987), Richard Wilson Webb (agosto de 1901 – diciembre de 1966), Martha Mott Kelly (30 de abril de 1906– 2005) y Mary Louise White Aswell (3 de junio de 1902 – 24 de diciembre de 1984) escribieron novelas policíacas. En algunos países, sus libros se han publicado bajo la variante Quentin Patrick. La mayoría de las historias fueron escritas por Webb y Wheeler en colaboración, o por Wheeler solo. Su creación más famosa es el detective aficionado Peter Duluth. En 1963, la colección de relatos The Ordeal of Mrs. Snow recibió el Special Edgar Award otorgado por the Mystery Writers of America.

El teniente Trant aparece en los misterios de formato largo Death for Dear Clara (1937), The File on Claudia Cragge (1938), Death and the Maiden (1939), Black Widow (1952), My Son, the Murderer (1954), The Man with Two Wives (1955), Shadow of Guilt (1959) y Family Skeletons (1965), los cinco últimos escritos por Hugh Wheeler solo.

My Book Notes: Black Widow (A Peter Duluth Mystery #8), 1952 by Patrick Quentin

Esta entrada es bilingüe. Desplazarse hacia abajo para acceder a la versión en español

Dell Books 759, 1954. Book Format: Mass Market Paperback. 191 pages. ISBN: N/A. First published in the US by Simon & Schuster in 1952 and in the UK by Gollancz in 1953 as Fatal Woman. 

39910274._SY475_Synopsis: Peter Duluth, a Broadway producer and amateur detective, is baffled when his wife, Iris, upon returning from a trip, discovers the body of Nanny Ordway, a wannabe writer he’s recently befriend, hanging from a chandelier in their bedroom.

The story was brought to the cinema under the same title in the 1954 film  ​written, produced, and directed by Nunnally Johnson and starring Ginger Rogers, Van Heflin, Gene Tierney, and George Raft. The film version has been reviewed, among others, by John Grant at Noirish, and Martin Edwards at ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’and Curtis Evans at The Passing Tramp.Steve at Mystery File.

My Take: Black Widow, AKA Fatal Woman in the UK, is the last book in Peter Duluth Mystery series. Although Peter and his wife Iris Duluth will appeared next in a later mystery, My Son, the Murderer, written solo by Wheeler, there they only have a minor role.

The story is narrated by the famous Broadway producer Peter Duluth and begins the day his wife Iris went to Jamaica accompanying her mother to recover from an operation. Peter is left alone in New York where he has work to do. That night, their neighbours in the apartment just above their own, invite him to a party at their place. There he meets a young woman named Nanny Ordway. Nanny dreams of becoming an author one day, but she now feels lonely, poor and hungry. Duluth fells sorry for her and takes her to get something to eat. After a while, Nanny and Peter saw each other on several occasions, just as friends. One day Peter gives her a key to his apartment. In this way, she could write quietly away from the small room she shares with a female friend in Greenwich Village. After all, he spends all his time working at his office while his apartment is empty for the rest of the day. At no time does it occur to him that this agreement may have another meaning.

Things turn sour to Peter Duluth the same day his wife returns from Jamaica. Nanny Ordway’s body is found in their apartment hanging from the chandelier in their bedroom. Apparently she has committed suicide and, as from that moment, everything begins to get worse for him. Peter discovers that things were not as he thought they were when Lieutenant Trant –in charge of the investigation, finds witnesses that challenges his version. Nanny’s roommate claims she was in love with Peter, that she even told her Peter was expecting to get a divorce from his wife to marry her. Their upstairs friends don’t even remember who invited her to their party and they only saw her talking to Peter on friendly terms. Peter’s cleaning lady ensures she saw her one day still in bed with one of Iris nightgowns when she came in. Peter himself recognises that, once, he let her one of his wife dresses to dine out, and that he forgot telling it to her wife. The post mortem reveals she did not hang herself, she was murdered. Besides, she was five to six weeks pregnant. Peter is therefore left with no other option but to investigate Nanny’s past on his own to find out the truth, clear his name and save his marriage, before it is too late.

Thanks to the suggested readings at this year’s Bodies From the Library Conference, I’ve read The Grindle Nightmare, Death’s Old Sweet Song, and now Black Widow. In this way I’ve started reading some of Q. Patrick/Patrick Quentin/Jonathan Stagge’s works, to the point that I already have now several of their books to read next. Regarding this particular book I found it extremely readable, highly interesting and superbly written. The construction of the plot is impeccable and the interest of the reader is secured until the end that will be enhance by several plot twists that run until the very last pages. Of this are witnesses some of the reviews I include here below.

Black Widow has been reviewed, among others, by Curtis Evans at The Passing Tramp, TomCat at Beneath the Stains of Time, Mike at Only Detect, and John Grant at Noirish.

About the Author: Patrick Quentin, Q. Patrick and Jonathan Stagge were pen names under which Hugh Callingham Wheeler (19 March 1912 – 26 July 1987), Richard Wilson Webb (August 1901 – December 1966), Martha Mott Kelley (30 April 1906 – 2005) and Mary Louise White Aswell (3 June 1902 – 24 December 1984) wrote detective fiction. In some foreign countries their books have been published under the variant Quentin Patrick. Most of the stories were written by Webb and Wheeler in collaboration, or by Wheeler alone. Their most famous creation is the amateur sleuth Peter Duluth. In 1963, the story collection The Ordeal of Mrs. Snow was given a Special Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America.

7f772460a34ee90881bb88e9abe4edcd (1)Webb was born in Burnham-On-Sea, Somerset, and moved to the US in 1926, working as a researcher for a chemical company in Philadelphia. He became an American citizen in 1942. In 1931 he had started collaborating with Martha Mott Kelly, a partnership which produced two novels. The name’s origins, Q. Patrick,  come from Martha Mott Kelley and Richard Wilson Webb’s names. Kelley was known as Patsy (Patsy Kelly was a well-known character actress of the period). Webb was known as Rick, so they came up with the name Q. Patrick. Patrick’s debut novel, called Cottage Sinister (published as Q. Patrick), was released in 1931. When Kelly got married, Webb found a new writing companion in Mary Louise Aswell, producing two more novels (in the meantime, he had written another novel all by himself). In 1936 Webb asked his old friend Hugh Wheeler, a Londoner who had moved to the US in 1934, to join him in developing a new series character, Peter Duluth. A Puzzle for Fools, the first novel in the “Peter Duluth” series and was released in 1936. Wheeler had attended the University of London, graduating with honours in 1933, and emigrating to the US in 1934. In 1942 he, too, became an American citizen, serving in the Army Medical Corps during WWII. During the late forties, Webb’s contributions decreased due to his health problems. Between 1936 and 1952 Webb and Wheeler collaborated on nine Patrick Quentin novels, in all but one of which the lead character is theatrical producer Peter Duluth, who also serves as the narrator of events. (One of the Patrick Quentin books published in this period, The Follower (1950), is non-series). In A Puzzle for Fools (1936), Peter Duluth meets Iris Pattison and they married in the second book, Puzzle for Players (1938). Between 1954 and 1965 Hugh Wheller published seven more Patrick Quentin novels, but only in one of them, My Son, the Murderer do the Duluths appear, albeit on a minor role.

Patrick Quentin’s Peter Duluth Mystery Novels: A Puzzle for Fools (1936) (Webb and Wheeler); Puzzle for Players (1938) (Webb and Wheeler); Puzzle for Puppets (1944) (Webb and Wheeler); Puzzle for Wantons (1945) (Webb and Wheeler); Puzzle for Fiends (1946) (Webb and Wheeler); Puzzle for Pilgrims (1947) (Webb and Wheeler); Run to Death (1948) (Webb and Wheeler); Black Widow (1952) (Webb and Wheeler) with Peter Duluth and Inspector Trant, and My Son, the Murderer (1954) (Wheeler) with Peter Duluth (briefly) and Inspector Trant. There is also a collection of short stories The Puzzles of Peter Duluth published by Crippen & Landru in 2016 with  an introduction by Curtis Evans, and an afterword by Hugh Wheeler’s great-niece.

Black Widow, de Patrick Quentin

Sinopsis: Peter Duluth, un productor de Broadway y detective aficionado, está desconcertado cuando su esposa, Iris, al regresar de un viaje, descubre el cuerpo de Nanny Ordway, una aspirante a escritora de la que se ha hecho amigo recientemente, colgado de una lámpara de araña en su dormitorio. La historia fue llevada al cine con el mismo título en la película de 1954 escrita, producida y dirigida por Nunnally Johnson y protagonizada por Ginger Rogers, Van Heflin, Gene Tierney y George Raft

Mi opinión: Black Widow, también conocida como Fatal Woman en el Reino Unido, es el último libro de la serie de misterio protagonizada por Peter Duluth. Aunque Peter y su esposa Iris Duluth aparecerán a continuación en un misterio posterior, My Son, the Murderer, escrito en solitario por Wheeler, allí solo tienen un papel menor.

La historia está narrada por el famoso productor de Broadway Peter Duluth y comienza el día en que su esposa Iris fue a Jamaica acompañando a su madre para recuperarse de una operación. Peter se queda solo en Nueva York, donde tiene trabajo que hacer. Esa noche, sus vecinos en el apartamento justo encima del suyo, lo invitan a una fiesta en su casa. Allí conoce a una joven llamada Nanny Ordway. Nanny sueña con convertirse en autora algún día, pero ahora se siente sola, pobre y hambrienta. Duluth siente lástima por ella y la lleva a comer algo. Después de un tiempo, Nanny y Peter se vieron en varias ocasiones, solo como amigos. Un día, Peter le da la llave de su apartamento. De esta forma, podría escribir tranquilamente lejos de la pequeña habitación que comparte con una amiga en Greenwich Village. Después de todo, pasa todo el tiempo trabajando en su oficina mientras su apartamento está vacío el resto del día. En ningún momento se le ocurre que este acuerdo pueda tener otro significado.

Las cosas se ponen feas para Peter Duluth el mismo día que su mujer regresa de Jamaica. El cuerpo de Nanny Ordway se encuentra en su apartamento colgado del candelabro de su dormitorio. Al parecer ella se ha suicidado y, a partir de ese momento, todo empieza a empeorar para él. Peter descubre que las cosas no eran como él pensaba cuando el teniente Trant, a cargo de la investigación, encuentra testigos que cuestionan su versión. La compañera de cuarto de Nanny afirma que estaba enamorada de Peter, que incluso le dijo que Peter esperaba divorciarse de su esposa para casarse con ella. Sus amigos de arriba ni siquiera recuerdan quién la invitó a su fiesta y solo la vieron hablando con Peter en términos amistosos. La señora de la limpieza de Peter asegura que la vio un día todavía en la cama con uno de los camisones de Iris cuando entró. El mismo Peter reconoce que, una vez, le dejó uno de los vestidos de su mujer para salir a cenar, y que se olvidó de contárselo a su mujer. La autopsia revela que no se ahorcó, fue asesinada. Además, estaba embarazada de cinco a seis semanas. Por lo tanto, a Peter no le queda otra opción que investigar el pasado de Nanny por su cuenta para descubrir la verdad, limpiar su nombre y salvar su matrimonio, antes de que sea demasiado tarde.

Gracias a las lecturas sugeridas en la Conferencia Bodies From the Library de este año, he leído The Grindle Nightmare, Death’s Old Sweet Song, y ahora Black Widow. De esta manera, comencé a leer algunas de las obras de Q. Patrick/Patrick Quentin/Jonathan Stagge, hasta el punto de que ya tengo varios de sus libros para leer a continuación. Con respecto a este libro en particular, lo encontré extremadamente legible, muy interesante y magníficamente escrito. La construcción de la trama es impecable y el interés del lector esta asegurado hasta el final que se verá potenciado por varios giros argumentales que se extienden hasta las últimas páginas. De esto son testigos algunas de las reseñas que incluyo a continuación. (Ver más arriba en inglés)

Acerca del autor: Patrick Quentin, Q. Patrick y Jonathan Stagge eran seudónimos bajo los cuales escribieron novelas policíacas Hugh Callingham Wheeler (19 de marzo de 1912 – 26 de julio de 1987), Richard Wilson Webb (agosto de 1901 – diciembre de 1966), Martha Mott Kelley (30 de abril de 1906 – 2005) y Mary Louise White Aswell (3 de junio de 1902-24 de diciembre de 1984). En algunos países extranjeros, sus libros se han publicado bajo la variante Quentin Patrick. La mayoría de las historias fueron escritas por Webb y Wheeler en colaboración, o por Wheeler solo. Su creación más famosa es el detective aficionado Peter Duluth. En 1963, la colección de cuentos The Ordeal of Mrs. Snow recibió un premio Edgar especial por Mystery Writers of America.

Webb nació en Burnham-On-Sea, Somerset, y se trasladó a los EE. UU. en 1926, para trabajar como investigador de una empresa química en Filadelfia. En 1942 se convirtió en ciudadano estadounidense. En 1931 comenzó a colaborar con Martha Mott Kelly, una asociación que generó dos novelas. Los orígenes del nombre, Q. Patrick, provienen de los nombres de Martha Mott Kelley y Richard Wilson Webb. Kelley era conocida como Patsy (Patsy Kelly era una conocida actriz de reparto de la época). Webb era conocido como Rick, por lo que se les ocurrió el nombre Q. Patrick. La primera novela de Patrick, llamada Cottage Sinister (publicada como Q. Patrick), fue editada en 1931. Cuando Kelly se casó, Webb encontró una nueva colaboradora en Mary Louise Aswell, publicando otras dos novelas (mientras tanto, había escrito otra novela en solitario). En 1936 Webb le pidió a su viejo amigo Hugh Wheeler, un londinense que se había mudado a los Estados Unidos en 1934, que se uniera a él en el desarrollo de un nuevo personaje de la serie, Peter Duluth. A Puzzle for Fools, la primera novela de la serie “Peter Duluth” fue publicada en 1936. Wheeler había estudiado en la Universidad de Londres, se graduó con honores en 1933 y emigró a los Estados Unidos en 1934. En 1942 él también se convirtió en ciudadano estadounidense, sirviendo en el Cuerpo Médico del Ejército durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial. A finales de los años cuarenta, las aportaciones de Webb disminuyeron debido a sus problemas de salud. Entre 1936 y 1952, Webb y Wheeler colaboraron en nueve novelas de Patrick Quentin, en todas menos una de ellas el personaje principal es el productor teatral Peter Duluth, quien también actúa como narrador de los hechos. (Uno de los libros de Patrick Quentin publicados en este período, The Follower (1950), no pertenece a la serie). En A Puzzle for Fools (1936), Peter Duluth conoce a Iris Pattison y se casan en el segundo libro, Puzzle for Players (1938). Entre 1954 y 1965 Hugh Wheller publicó siete novelas más de Patrick Quentin, pero solo en una de ellas,My Son, the Murderer aparecen los Duluth, aunque en un papel menor.

Los misterios de Peter Duluth de Patrick Quentin: Enigma para locos /Enigma para tontos (1936) (Webb and Wheeler); Enigma para actores (1938) (Webb and Wheeler); Enigma para marionetas/Enigma para fantoches (1944) (Webb and Wheeler); Enigma para divorciadas (1945) (Webb and Wheeler); Enigma para diablos (1946) (Webb and Wheeler); Enigma para peregrinos (1947) (Webb and Wheeler); Corriendo hacia la muerte (1948) (Webb and Wheeler); La viuda negra (1952) (Webb and Wheeler) con Peter Duluth y el inspector Trant, y Mi hijo, el asesino (1954) (Wheeler) con Peter Duluth (brevemente) y el inspector Trant. También hay una colección de relatos The Puzzles of Peter Duluth publicada por Crippen & Landru en 2016 con una introducción de Curtis Evans y un epílogo de la sobrina nieta de Hugh Wheeler.

Las Facinantes Vidas de Patrick Quentin

Las Fascinantes Vidas de Patrick Quentin

descargaAbsorto, como estoy, leyendo The Grindle Nightmare (1935) de Q. Patrick, encontré la siguiente publicación de blog en español aquí, que pensé podría ser de interés para los lectores de habla hispana como una introducción al trabajo de Patrick Quentin, Q. Patrick y Jonathan Stagge, seudónimos de Hugh Callingham Wheeler (19 de marzo de 1912 – 26 de julio de 1987), Richard Wilson Webb (agosto de 1901 – diciembre de 1966), Martha Mott Kelley (30 de abril de 1906 – 2005) y Mary Louise White Aswell (3 de junio de 1902-24 de diciembre de 1984). Con la esperanza de que algún editor español se interese en publicar su obra completa.

The Fascinating Lives of Patrick Quentin

Engrossed, as I am, reading The Grindle Nightmare (1935) by Q. Patrick, I found the following blog post in Spanish here, that I thought it might be of interest to Spanish speaking readers as an introduction to the work of Patrick Quentin, Q. Patrick and Jonathan Stagge, pen names of Hugh Callingham Wheeler (19 March 1912 – 26 July 1987), Richard Wilson Webb (August 1901 – December 1966), Martha Mott Kelley (30 April 1906 – 2005) and Mary Louise White Aswell (3 June 1902 – 24 December 1984). In the hope some Spanish publisher gets interested in issuing their complete oeuvre.

Bodies From The Library 2021: The Many Faces of Patrick Quentin, Q. Patrick and Jonathan Stagge, by Curtis Evans

Yesterday I managed to attend the Bodies From The Library 2021 conference, via Zoom. Unfortunately I arrived late and I won’t be able to post about the programme in detail. However I manage to attend in full Curtis Evans presentation on The Many Faces of Patrick Quentin, Q. Patrick and Jonathan Stagge, an author, or should I better say authors, that I’ve not read yet but I’m looking forward to reading. In order to start becoming familiar with Patrick Quentin, Q. Patrick and Jonathan Stagge, I would like to suggest a look at my post at Index of Classic Mystery Writers (1841 – 1965) on Quentin, Patrick. Hope you find it useful.

Curtis Evans is the author of Masters of the “Humdrum” Mystery and The Spectrum of English Murder and the editor of Clues and Corpses: The Detective Fiction and Mystery Criticism of Todd Downing, Mysteries Unlocked: Essays in Honor of Douglas G. Greene and the Edgar nominated Murder in the Closet: Queer Clues in Crime Fiction Before Stonewall. He blogs at The Passing Tramp.

To begin with I would like to read Q. Patrick’s The Grindle Nightmare (1935 by Webb ?); Patrick Quentin’s Black Widow (1952 by Wheeler); and Jonathan Stagge’s Death’s Old Sweet Song (1946, by Webb and Wheeler). Stay tuned.


(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. The Hartney Press, Inc. (USA), 1935)

Patrick Quentin, best known for the Peter Duluth puzzle mysteries, also penned outstanding detective novels from the 1930s through the 1960s under other pseudonyms, including Q. Patrick and Jonathan Stagge. Anthony Boucher wrote: “Quentin is particularly noted for the enviable polish and grace which make him one of the leading American fabricants of the murderous comedy of manners; but this surface smoothness conceals intricate and meticulous plot construction as faultless as that of Agatha Christie.”

It begins with the residents of a rustic New England village finding animals brutally slaughtered over a period of weeks, casting a sinister pall over the town of Grindle Oak.
Then, a young girl goes missing, and her father—not trusting the police—asks local doctor Douglas Swanson to help him find her. But when Swanson turns up to begin the search, he finds the man dead with his hands bound in animal traps and his body mutilated. It appears the madman behind the abominable acts has moved on to more evolved prey.
As more depraved crimes are discovered, a wave of suspicion and distrust sweeps through the town, with outright vigilantism threatening to break out. The good doctor finds himself cast as an unlikely sleuth who must discover what demented desires are driving a killer whose bloodlust is growing greater every day . . .(Source: Goodreads)

The Vultures Gather: The Grindle Nightmare (1935), by Q. Patrick at The Passing Tramp

Patrick Quentin

descargaPatrick Quentin, Q. Patrick and Jonathan Stagge were pen names under which Hugh Callingham Wheeler (19 March 1912 – 26 July 1987), Richard Wilson Webb (August 1901 – December 1966), Martha Mott Kelley (30 April 1906 – 2005) and Mary Louise White Aswell (3 June 1902 – 24 December 1984) wrote detective fiction. In some foreign countries their books have been published under the variant Quentin Patrick. Most of the stories were written by Webb and Wheeler in collaboration, or by Wheeler alone. Their most famous creation is the amateur sleuth Peter Duluth. In 1963, the story collection The Ordeal of Mrs. Snow was given a Special Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America.

In 1931 Richard Wilson Webb (born in 1901 in Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, an Englishman working for a pharmaceutical company in Philadelphia) and Martha Mott Kelley collaborated on the detective novel Cottage Sinister. Kelley was known as Patsy (Patsy Kelly was a well-known character actress of that era) and Webb as Rick, so they created the pseudonym Q. Patrick by combining their nicknames—adding the Q “because it was unusual”.
Webb’s and Kelley’s literary partnership ended with Kelley’s marriage to Stephen Wilson. Webb continued to write under the Q. Patrick name, while looking for a new writing partner. Although he wrote two novels with the journalist and Harper’s Bazaar editor Mary Louise Aswell, he would find his permanent collaborator in Hugh Wheeler, a Londoner who had moved to the US in 1934.
Wheeler’s and Webb’s first collaboration was published in 1936. That same year, they introduced two new pseudonyms: Murder Gone to Earth, the first novel featuring Dr. Westlake, was credited to Jonathan Stagge, a name they would continue to use for the rest of the Westlake series. A Puzzle for Fools introduced Peter Duluth and was signed Patrick Quentin. This would become their primary and most famous pen name, even though they also continued to use Q. Patrick until the end of their collaboration (particularly for Inspector Trant stories).
In the late 1940s, Webb’s contributions gradually decreased due to health problems. From the 1950s and on, Wheeler continued writing as Patrick Quentin on his own, and also had one book published under his own name. In the 1960s and ’70s, Wheeler achieved success as a playwright and librettist, and his output as Quentin Patrick slowed and then ceased altogether after 1965. However, Wheeler did write the book for the 1979 musical Sweeney Todd about a fictional London mass murderer, showing he had not altogether abandoned the genre.

The early Q. Patrick detective stories generally follow the Golden Age “whodunit” conventions, with elaborate puzzle mysteries reminiscent of Agatha Christie or John Dickson Carr. From the time when Wheeler joined the writing, the stories become more psychologically acute, with increasingly realistic, fleshed-out characters. In the 1940s, the stories start to move away from the traditional detective pattern: Puzzle for Fiends is a Hitchcockian thriller, Puzzle for Pilgrims a film noir in written form, and Run to Death a pulpy spy novel.
The majority of the Webb-Wheeler collaborations feature one of their recurring characters: Peter Duluth, a Broadway director, WWII veteran and recovering alcoholic who, with his wife Iris, always seems to stumble across murders; Inspector Timothy Trant of the New York Police, a Princeton-educated dandy whose remorseless investigations often seem to be aimed at some innocent person before he reveals his real target; and the country doctor, Dr. Hugh Cavendish Westlake with his daughter Dawn. When Webb bowed out on the writing, these characters disappeared or receded into the background.
The late Patrick Quentin novels are increasingly dark and brooding. Deceit and betrayal, particularly adultery, already a frequent theme, becomes even more central. Although at the end of the story the murder is solved, the impact of the crime, and the corruption uncovered in the investigation, remain.
A study of all the Q.Patrick/Patrick Quentin/Jonathan Stagge novels has appeared in French, Patrick Quentin: Du roman-probleme au Thriller Psychologique by Roland Lacourbe, Vincent Bourgeois, Phillippe Fooz and Michel Soupart (France: Semper Aenigma, 2016).
At one time a relatively popular mystery writer (Francis Iles called Quentin “number one among American crime writers”), Quentin has largely fallen into obscurity in the US, his works out of print. He probably is better known in Scandinavia, where he used to be among the most famous detective writers, although his reputation is also fading there. (Source: Wikipedia)

In  the attached picture the public face of Q. Patrick, 1931-35 Richard “Rickie” Webb.

Basic bibliography:

Q. Patrick (12 novels): Cottage Sinister (1931) (Richard Wilson Webb and Martha Mott Kelley); Murder at the Women’s City Club (1932) (Webb and Kelley); Murder at Cambridge (1933) (Webb); S. S. Murder (1933) (Webb and Mary Louise White, aka Mary Louise Aswell); The Grindle Nightmare (1935) (Webb); Death Goes to School (1936) (Webb); Death for Dear Clara (1937) (Webb and Hugh Callingham Wheeler); The File on Fenton and Farr (1937) (Crimefile) (Webb and Wheeler); The File on Claudia Cragge (1938) (Crimefile) (Webb and Wheeler); Death and the Maiden (1939) (Webb and Wheeler); Return to the Scene (1941) (Webb and Wheeler); and Danger Next Door (1951) (Webb).

Jonathan Stagge (9 novels): The Dogs Do Bark (1936) (Webb and Wheeler); Murder or Mercy? (1937) (Webb and Wheeler); The Stars Spell Death (1939) (Webb and Wheeler); Turn of the Table (1940) (Webb and Wheeler); The Yellow Taxi (1942) (Webb and Wheeler); The Scarlet Circle (1943) (Webb and Wheeler); Death and the Dear Girls (1945) (Webb and Wheeler); Death’s Old Sweet Song (1946) (Webb and Wheeler); and The Three Fears (1949) (Wheeler).

Patrick Quentin (16 novels): A Puzzle for Fools (1936) (Webb and Wheeler); Puzzle for Players (1938) (Webb and Wheeler); Puzzle for Puppets (1944) (Webb and Wheeler); Puzzle for Wantons (1945) (Webb and Wheeler); Puzzle for Fiends (1946) (Webb and Wheeler); Puzzle for Pilgrims (1947) (Webb and Wheeler); Run to Death (1948) (Webb and Wheeler); The Follower (1950) (Wheeler alone?); Black Widow (1952) (Wheeler); My Son, the Murderer (1954) (Wheeler); The Man with Two Wives (1955) (Wheeler); The Man in the Net (1956) (Wheeler); Suspicious Circumstances (1957) (Wheeler); Shadow of Guilt (1959) (Wheeler); The Green-Eyed Monster (1960) (Wheeler); and Family Skeletons (1965) (Wheeler). (In bold the novels I have in my pile of books to be read).

Basically, these books fall into three periods, in terms of authorship. There is, first, 1931-1935, when “Q. Patrick” published five mysteries, all written by Richard “Rickie” Webb, either collaboratively or solo. The second period, 1936-1948, we see Hugh [Wheeler] become the dominant writing partner, particularly by the late 1930s and early 1940s. Over 1948-52 Hugh himself entirely wrote the last Jonathan Stagge, The Three Fears, as well as the Patrick Quentin novel Black Widow, a novel with criminous elements under his own name, The Crippled Muse, and possibly the Patrick Quentin novel The Follower.  (Source: The Passing Tramp)

Further reading:

The Q. Patrick/Patrick Quentin/Jonathan Stagge Consortium and The Puzzles of Peter Duluth 

Patrick Quentin and The Follower – guest blog by Christopher Greaves

There is extensive coverage of the authors at Mystery*File.


(Facsimile Dust Jacket, Simon and Schuster Inner Sanctum Mystery (USA), 1936)

With the publication of A Puzzle for Fools in 1936 under the new pseudonym of Patrick Quentin, Webb and Wheeler began their most important and popular series of detective novels. Eventually, the series protagonist, theatrical producer Peter Duluth, would be featured in nine novels and one short story, and two of the novels would be adapted as feature-length films. The first Duluth book is notable for its imaginative setting, an asylum for wealthy patients suffering from relatively minor mental disorders. When murder occurs, however, it seems obvious that one of the patients has a problem that is not so minor. Peter Duluth, who has lost his wife in a fire, is in the sanatorium recovering from alcoholism. Questions of what is real and what is imagined, of who is sane and who is mad, make this novel a memorable opening for the Duluth series. (Source: “Patrick Quentin – Analysis” Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition Ed. Carl Rollyson., Inc. 2008 2 Apr, 2020

A wave of murders rocks a sanitarium—and it’s up to the patients to stop them

Broadway producer Peter Duluth sought solace in a bottle after his wife’s death; now, two years later and desperate to dry out, he enters a sanitarium, hoping to break his dependence on drink—but the institution doesn’t quite offer the rest and relaxation he expected. Strange, malevolent occurrences plague the hospital; and among other inexplicable events, Peter hears his own voice with an ominous warning: “There will be murder.”

It soon becomes clear that a homicidal maniac is on the loose, and, with a staff every bit as erratic as its idiosyncratic patients, it seems everyone is a suspect—even Duluth’s new romantic interest, Iris Pattison. Charged by the baffled head of the ward with solving the crimes, it’s up to Peter to clear her name before the killer strikes again.

Reprinted for the first time in over thirty years, A Puzzle for Fools is the atmospheric and complex mystery that first introduced Peter Duluth; the character and his love interest Iris went on to star in eight more novels, two of which were adapted for film. (Source: Penzler Publishers)

Read an excerpt here.

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