The Duke of York’s Steps (Henry Wade)

By Henry Wade

First published: UK, Constable, 1929

Blurb (UK)

THE DUKE OF YORK’S STEPS tells of the mysterious death of a London banker, and of the successful unravelling of a very subtle crime.

My review

Wade - The Duke of York's Steps.JPG
Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC

First-class and satisfying on all counts. The plot deals with the (ingenious) disposal of a financier by thoracic aneurism—an original yet convincing method. The big business atmosphere is deftly touched in, and keeps interest throughout, with every chapter ending on a cliff-hanger. The detection is done by the ‘human’ Inspector Poole and two amateurs (one of whom was set up by the murderers). The police procedure is fairly lively; Wade is more interesting and enjoyable than Crofts. The gradual emergence of the killers amid the changing London background is done well. For a so-called “humdrum” author, characterisation is excellent: the victim is quite complex, the romance sub-plot (which would have raised eyebrows on its first appearance), and Insp. Poole are all excellent.

Contemporary reviews

The Bookman (October 1929):

Inspector Poole is called in on the murder of Sir Garth Fratten and in the course of his investigation bares a family secret that bodes ill for the dead man’s son. Towards the end an unexpected discovery gives the book a clever turn.


Gerald Gould (Observer):

It would be difficult to overpraise it.  It is well written, and so well constructed that the excitement grows steadily as the mystery deepens.  A book from which it is, literally, hard to tear oneself away.


Robert H. Davis, Judge of the Detective Story Club:

What a delightful change from the usual detective of Scotland Yard is Inspector Poole.  He possesses all the gifts of a bloodhound following the true scent…The rapidly unfolding plot never for one moment loses its dramatic value, nor is the reader befuddled by false clues.