He Should Have Died Hereafter (Cyril Hare)

By Cyril Hare

First published: UK, Faber & Faber, 1958; US, Macmillan, 1958, as Untimely Death


My review

Hare’s final novel is rather short and slight, a novella or long short story, even, despite its 189 pages. The bickering Pettigrews spend a holiday on Exmoor, where Pettigrew once found a corpse as a boy.   History repeats itself when Pettigrew finds another body on Bolter’s Tussock, which promptly disappears. There is little mystery and less detection in a predictable tale of survivorship and associated legal conundrums; and the solution, based on Silver Blaze,” A Silent Witness, and The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, is disappointing.

Contemporary reviews

Observer (Maurice Richardson, 2nd March 1958):

Nice lawyer finds wandering corpse in Exmoor.  Later called as witness in complex and rare Chancery suit.  Told with Cyril Hare’s customary quiet knowing naturalness, and legal expertise: commendably brief, though slightly slight.


Manchester Guardian (Francis Iles, 11th April 1958):

For greater urbanity but no less wit try Cyril Hare’s He Should Have Died Hereafter, a very, very quiet little detective story which might have been inspired by a recent real-life case, except that the book must have been written first.


Times Literary Supplement (Philip John Stead, 11th April 1958):

Mr. Cyril Hare also provides the kind of tale his readers have come to expect of him in He Should Have Died Hereafter—an ingenious detective puzzle with some amusing legal passages.  Was the dead body that a retired barrister saw on Exmoor a real one, or was it an hallucination projected by an odd experience in childhood?  Mr. Hare’s stalwart old detective Mallett comes forth from retirement to help in solving the mystery.  The country scenes and the psychology are quite well done but it is when the action leads to a Chancery suit that the element of delight enters into it.  The Old Bailey is for once outdone in detective fiction by its less spectacular sister at Temple Bar.