Death in Harley Street (John Rhode)

  • By John Rhode
  • First published: UK: Bles, 1946; US: Dodd Mead, 1946

Rating: 4 out of 5.

One of Rhode’s famous ones.  The telling’s slow – lots of round table consultations with Dr. Priestley and chums – but the solution is inspired.

Blurb (UK)

The distinctive merits of John Rhode’s mystery novels are logical accuracy and ingenious invention.  Of the first quality Dorothy Sayers wrote in The Sunday Times: “One always knows that in a John Rhode book there will be a sound plot, a well-knit process of reasoning, and a satisfying solution with no loose ends,” and The Times Literary Supplement opined that “those who judge a detective story by its accuracy and logic have long counted John Rhode’s work among the best of its kind”.

Of John Rhode’s ingenuity, Milward Kennedy in The Sunday Times wrote “John Rhode must hold the record for the invention of ingenious ways of committing murder”.

Probably these Rhodian characteristics of accuracy and ingenuity have never been better exemplified than in this novel dealing with the mysterious death of Dr. Mawsley, the Harley Street specialist.

Blurb (US)

An amazing affair – the death of Dr. Mawsley, Harley Street specialist, who was found one evening sprawled on the floor of his own consulting room, following the usual routine appointments with his patients!

It was a most violent death, yet Dr. Priestley later proved it was neither accident, suicide nor murder!  Moreover, the person who contrived the great doctor’s demise was certainly not guilty of it!

What was the extraordinary fourth alternative to accident, suicide, or murder?  And how could a man plan another man’s death and yet not be guilty of it?  Dr. Priestley called the turn in one of the strangest experiences in all his long career of criminal investigation.  In this story of death in Harley Street, John Rhode has written a brilliantly baffling novel.

Contemporary reviews

Sat R of Lit (5th October 1946, 50w): Extremely clever puzzle and very well fabricated.  Not much action and great deal of talk—some of it boring.  Good enough.

Weekly Book Review (Will Cuppy, 13th October 1946, 110w): You may not see eye to eye with the sleuth in the final disposition of the case, but it’s worth thinking over.

NY Times (Isaac Anderson, 1st December 1946, 150w): It makes a good story, with Jimmy Waghorn and Hanslet playing even less important roles than they usually do in the Dr. Priestley mysteries.