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

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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.