Heir to Murder (Miles Burton)

By Miles Burton First published: UK, Collins, 1953 On a wet November night, Dr. Murford drives his car off a pier into Carmouth harbour. A week or so later, Nurse Penruddock is found at the bottom of a cliff. Both had been named principal heir by Lady Violet Vernham of Dragonscourt (a friendly dragon). More outrages … Continue reading Heir to Murder (Miles Burton)


The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond (G.K. Chesterton)

The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond (1937), posthumously published, may not hit the heights of The Man Who Was Thursday or the Father Brown stories (say, the Insolence or the Incorrigibility) – but one sees great things from the valley; even lesser GKC towers over almost anyone else. In Borges' favourite story, "The Three Horsemen of … Continue reading The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond (G.K. Chesterton)

Dull British drownings

Murder Jigsaw (E. & M.A. Radford, 1944) An obnoxious fly-fishing colonel is drowned, apparently accidentally; "remarkably painstaking and meticulous examinations" prove that it was murder. The setting is a small fishing hotel in Cornwall.  I know nothing about fishing; wet flies or dry, it's simply dry. This is very much in the Austin Freeman line.  Dr. … Continue reading Dull British drownings

The Night of Fear (Moray Dalton)

By Moray Dalton First published: UK, 1931 Edgar Stallard, who combined writing about true crime with blackmailing practitioners, is stabbed during a Yuletide  game of hide-and-seek in the dark.  Suspicion falls on Hugh Darrow, a blind war veteran. Both Curtis Evans, in his introduction for the Dean Street Press reprint, and Barzun & Taylor call The … Continue reading The Night of Fear (Moray Dalton)

L’affaire du Collier: Moray Dalton

This week, Dean Street Press reprinted five novels by half-Canadian writer Moray Dalton: One By One They Disappeared (1929); The Body in the Road (1930); The Night of Fear (1931); Death in the Cup (1932); and The Strange Case of Harriet Hall (1936), with introductions by crime historian Curtis Evans. Evans considers Dalton "one of … Continue reading L’affaire du Collier: Moray Dalton

What Dread Hand? (Christianna Brand)

Fifteen short stories by one of the Queens of Crime - enough to pass an entertaining couple of hours. There are three notable stories. "The Hornets' Nest" is a tight, clever poisoning at a wedding breakfast.  The reader, Brand tells him, should know whodunnit the page after the murder.  "After the Event" is a theatrical … Continue reading What Dread Hand? (Christianna Brand)

Ring for a Noose (Anthony Gilbert)

Gilbert is unpredictable and uneven; one never knows what one's going to get, or even if it will be any good.  At first glance, this looks like a detective story: impostor Hungarian refugee (really a small-time crook) brained with brick in telephone kiosk, apparently by an idealistic young Police Brigadier.  Turns into a procedural: Crook … Continue reading Ring for a Noose (Anthony Gilbert)

Killed in the Ratings (William L. DeAndrea)

Heterosexual male fantasy, and adolescent at that.  ("You're acting like the teacher caught you hiding a hard-on under your math book.")  Narrator is television junior executive Matt Cobb - young, tall, handsome; working-class, but stays in swish apartment; defender of English grammar, but one of the guys.  He finds corpse; lies to the cops; becomes … Continue reading Killed in the Ratings (William L. DeAndrea)

The Shop Window Murders (Vernon Loder)

One of the most exhausting detective stories I've encountered.  Like Ellery Queen's French Powder Mystery, it opens with a crowd discovering that shop window mannequins are really corpses.  Unlike Queen, it's not very good.  The police have to sift through clues, false clues, manufactured evidence, and schools of red herrings before the culprit helpfully confesses.  … Continue reading The Shop Window Murders (Vernon Loder)