Henry Wade

Wade - photo
  • Pseudonym of Major Sir Henry Lancelot Aubrey-Fletcher, 6th Baronet, CVO, DSO
  • Born: 10 September 1887
  • Died: 30 May 1969

Overview

“Mr. Wade is one of the most intelligent and conscientious detection-writers we have.  He is also, I imagine, one of the very few whose books a flesh-and-blood policeman can read without giving vent to frequent groans of exasperation, for he has a wide, first-hand knowledge of police procedure.” – Daily Telegraph

Henry Wade was an important writer of police novels, many featuring Inspector Poole of the Yard.

Some critics greatly admire him.  Barzun & Taylor (Catalogue of Crime) and Curtis Evans (at the Passing Tramp) admire his work.  Others, like Mike Grost, find him overrated and dull.

My own feelings are mixed.  I think that several of the early detective stories are excellent; he wrote Heir Presumptive, a classic crime novel with a twist; and I respect his characterization.

However, his subject matter – police procedure, the huntin’ and shootin’ county set, provincial politics, finance, and the underworld – doesn’t interest me.  Many of his late books in particular are grim slogs.  His work also lacks the imagination, humour, and creative plotting I prefer in a detective story.

Best books

  • The Duke of York’s Steps (1929)
  • No Friendly Drop (1931)
  • The Hanging Captain (1932)
  • Constable, Guard Thyself! (1934)
  • Heir Presumptive (1935)

Further reading:

  • Curtis Evans, The Spectrum of English Murder: The Detective Fiction of Henry Lancelot Aubrey-Fletcher and G.D.H. and Margaret Cole (2015)

Works

  1. The Verdict of You All (1926) **(+)
  2. The Missing Partners (1928) ***
  3. The Duke of York’s Steps (1929; Inspector Poole) ****
  4. The Dying Alderman (1930) **
  5. No Friendly Drop (1931; Inspector Poole) ****
  6. The Hanging Captain (1932) ****
  7. Policeman’s Lot (1933; Inspector Poole; short stories) **
  8. Mist on the Saltings (1933) **
  9. Constable, Guard Thyself! (1934; Inspector Poole) ****
  10. Heir Presumptive (1935) *****
  11. Bury Him Darkly (1936; Inspector Poole) **
  12. The High Sheriff (1937) ****
  13. Here Comes the Copper (1938; short stories) **
  14. Released for Death (1938) **
  15. Lonely Magdalen (1940; Inspector Poole) **
  16. New Graves at Great Norne (1947) **
  17. Diplomat’s Folly (1951) **
  18. Be Kind to the Killer (1952) **
  19. Too Soon to Die (1953) **(+)
  20. Gold Was Our Grave (1954) **
  21. A Dying Fall (1955) ***
  22. The Litmore Snatch (1957) ***

What they say…

“You can be sure of Henry Wade.  No writer of detective stories is more scrupulously careful of the rules; at the same time with each book that he writes the strength and interest of his characterization grow.” – Milward Kennedy, Manchester Guardian

“A new novel by Henry Wade is now an event as well as a joy.  This author improves with every book; with his first he took a high place in the detective story class, and now he must be bracketed at the top of it.” – Francis Iles (Daily Telegraph)

“Mr. Wade is one of the best detective story writers.” – Saturday Review

“Henry Wade is one of the greatest English writers of detective stories.” – Times Literary Supplement

“Just about the best detective stories in Great Britain.” – Glasgow Bulletin

“One of the acknowledged masters of the mystery novel.” – Aberdeen Press

“Mr. Wade is in the master class.” – H.C. Harwood

“Henry Wade as a writer of detective fiction approximates as nearly the ideal as mere mortal can.” – Everyman