J. J. Connington

  • Pseudonym of Alfred Walter Stewart (research chemist)
  • Born: September 1880, Glasgow
  • Died: 1 July 1947, Belfast


“For those who ask first of all in a detective story for exact and mathematical accuracy in the construction of the plot, there is no author to equal the distinguished scientist who writes under the name of J. J. Connington.” – London Daily Mail

J. J. Connington was one of the most highly regarded detective writers of the 1920s.  “This may just fail of being the best detective story of the century,” wrote one critic.  His stories were ingenious fair-play mysteries with plenty of thrills and good writing.  His admirers included John Dickson Carr, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Dashiell Hammett.

The 1930s books decline; many are leisurely paced, even stodgy, police procedurals in the manner of Freeman Wills Crofts.  Towards the end of his career, he produced one of his best books, Jack-in-the-Box, a clever tale of apparently impossible murders, archaeology, and a sinister mystic.

Best books

  • Murder in the Maze (1927)
  • The Case with Nine Solutions (1928)
  • No Past is Dead (1942)
  • Jack-in-the-Box (1944)
  • Curtis Evans, Masters of the “Humdrum Mystery”: Cecil John Charles Street, Freeman Wills Crofts, Alfred Walter Stewart and the British Detective Novel, 1920-1961 (2012)


  1. Death at Swaythling Court (1926) ***
  2. The Dangerfield Talisman (1926) ***
  3. Murder in the Maze (1927; Sir Clinton Driffield) ****
  4. Tragedy at Ravensthorpe (1927; Sir Clinton Driffield) **
  5. Mystery at Lynden Sands (1928; Sir Clinton Driffield) ***
  6. The Case with Nine Solutions (1928; Sir Clinton Driffield) ****
  7. Nemesis at Raynham Parva (1929; Sir Clinton Driffield; published in the US as Grim Vengeance) ***
  8. The Eye in the Museum (1929; Superintendent Ross)
  9. The Two Tickets Puzzle (1930; Superintendent Ross; published in the US as The Two Ticket Puzzle) **
  10. The Boat-house Riddle (1931; Sir Clinton Driffield) ***
  11. The Sweepstake Murders (1931; Sir Clinton Driffield) ***
  12. The Castleford Conundrum (1932; Sir Clinton Driffield) ***
  13. Tom Tiddler’s Island (1933; published in the US as Gold Brick Island) **
  14. The Ha-ha Case (1934; Sir Clinton Driffield; published in the US as The Brandon Case) ****
  15. In Whose Dim Shadow (1935; Sir Clinton Driffield; published in the US as The Tau Cross Mystery) **
  16. A Minor Operation (1937; Sir Clinton Driffield) ***
  17. Truth Comes Limping (1938; Sir Clinton Driffield) **
  18. For Murder Will Speak (1938; Sir Clinton Driffield) **
  19. The Counsellor (1939; Mark Brand) **
  20. The Four Defences (1940; Mark Brand) **(+)
  21. The Twenty-one Clues (1941; Sir Clinton Driffield) **
  22. No Past is Dead (1942; Sir Clinton Driffield) ****
  23. Jack-in-the-Box (1944; Sir Clinton Driffield) ****
  24. Common Sense Is All You Need (1947; Sir Clinton Driffield) *

    What they say…

“As a maker of water-tight puzzles, Mr. Connington has no superiors.” – Daily Mail

“Mr. J. J. Connington is a name revered by all specialists on detective fiction.” – The Spectator

“Mr. Connington has established his name in the front rank of detective story writers.” – The Times Literary Supplement.

“J. J. Connington’s stories are always attractive.”—Ralph Straus in the Sunday Times.

“Mr. Connington is a master.” – News Chronicle

“J. J. Connington writes the mathematically best pure puzzlers in the whole school of English pure-deduction murder mysteries.” – Cleveland Press

“As an author of detective stories J. J. Connington is a star of the first magnitude.” – Carolyn Wells

“Mr. Connington is unquestionably one of the masters in this field of the detective novel.” – The Philadelphia Public Ledger

“Mr. Connington has the art of writing delightful detective stories.  His characters are varied, human, and keep their actions within the bounds of possibilities.” – The Baltimore Evening Sun