The Paddington Mystery (John Rhode)

  • By John Rhode
  • First published: UK: Geoffrey Bles, 1925. No US publication.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The first Dr. Priestley case, and at one time one of Rhode’s rarest.  Reprinted in 2018.  I read it nearly a decade ago…  Can’t remember anything about the plot.  From memory, it’s livelier than many of the later ones; and Dr. Priestley and Harold Merefield have some personality.

Blurb (UK)

Rhode - The Paddington Mystery.JPG
Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC

When Harold Merefield returned home in the early hours of a winter morning from a festive little party at that popular nightclub, the “Naxos,” he was startled by a gruesome discovery.

On his bed was lying a corpse…

There was noting to show the identity of the dead man or the cause of his death.  At the inquest the jury found a verdict of “Death from Natural Causes”—Perhaps they were right, but yet…?

Anyhow, Harold determined to investigate the matter for himself and sought the help of Professor Priestley, who, by the simple but unusual method of logical reasoning, succeeded in throwing light upon what proved to be a very curious affair indeed…

Contemporary reviews

Western Morning News (19th October 1925): John Rhode is the author of The Paddington Mystery, which, if conventional, is readable and pleasantly baffling.

Times Literary Supplement (8th November 1925): One cannot but sympathise with the hero on finding his only bed occupied by a dead body on returning from his night club. Thereafter the author provides a tangled tale of imposture and double life, introduces a tempestuous and unattractive young woman with a past, a mild-mannered but bloodthirsty Bolshevik, and an observant professor of mathematics, and devises a new and original method for making use of a disreputable moneylender.

Montrose Standard (11th December 1925): It must be awkward on coming home from a “night of it” to find a real live corpse in your bed. So it is for Harold Merefield, whose good name remains compromised until cleared by the cold reasoning powers of his sweetheart’s father. The atmosphere of romance and mystery is well sustained through many exciting episodes – good value at such a modest price.

A Catalogue of Crime (Barzun & Taylor, 1989): Not a bona fide detective story, but a spate of information concerning Priestley’s early years and those of his secretary-to-be, Harold Merefield. Harold’s first fall from grace, life of sin, and partial estrangement from P.’s daughter April (soon lost without trace) are all rectified in the course of investigating the frame-up perpetrated upon the innocent Harold.