Call Mr. Fortune (H.C. Bailey)

  • By H.C. Bailey
  • First published: UK: Methuen, 1920; US: Dutton, 1921

Bailey - Call Mr Fortune.jpg

My review

The first Mr. Fortune collection.  The stories are:

The Archduke’s Tea

Mr. Fortune runs over a man in his car–only to find, same like Agatha Christie‘s The Seven Dials Mystery (1929), he is already dead. Investigations focus on a Balkan prince whose wife and brother stand to gain by his death. Mr. Fortune’s solution to the solution is first-class, and the whole promises well for a career of crime.

The Sleeping Companion

Mr. Fortune is still practising medicine, and investigates when a patient of his, a well-known comedienne, is brutally murdered, her companion drugged. Some good clues.

The Nice Girl

A slightly muddled story of mining, Enoch Arden, and murder.

The Efficient Assassin

One of the best stories of this collection, this gem (to mix metaphors in a uniquely horrible manner) crackles with tension from beginning to end, features two excellent murders, and a well-worked plot. Mr. Fortune actively detects, and the whole is pleasure.

The Hottentot Venus

The first of the comedies-of-manners, this story begins at an exclusive school run by Lomas’ sister, and involves the matchmaking machinations of a Balkan prince. Some nice ship scenes, and some good humour.

The Business Minister

A variation on E.C. Bentley‘s Trent’s Last Case (1913), which was in turn a variation on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s “The Problem of Thor Bridge”, but still well worth the read: characterisation excellent, in particular the victim, and the drug trade is nicely involved.


1920 Methuen

Mr. Bailey here writes detective stories for the first time.  His mysteries contain a good deal more fun than the tale of crime is wont to admit.

Contemporary reviews

Times Literary Supplement (Frederick Thomas Dalton, 5th February 1920): Various adventures in the tracking of crime by Mr. Reginald Fortune—no, not a detective, but a Wimpole-street medical man, who is described by the author as a “specialist in the surgery of crime”.  They are skilfully told and gain much from the fact that Mr. Fortune is a neat humorist.

Sat R (22nd May 1920, 50w): The mysteries are well contrived, and their elucidation is satisfactory.

Springfield Republican (10th April 1921, 160w): Call Mr. Fortune is sure to create a favourable impression.  Despite the fact that there is a similarity in all detective stories, there is a subtle difference marking these.

NY Times (10th July 1921, 260w): Mr. Bailey’s reputation as a raconteur of adventure tales is firmly established.