Leo Bruce

Pseudonym of Rupert Croft-Cooke

  • Born: Edenbridge, Kent, 20 June 1903
  • Died: Bournemouth, 1979

Bruce’s first detective story, Case for Three Detectives, is a clever parody of Hercule Poirot, Lord Peter Wimsey, and Father Brown, outmatched by the village policeman, Sergeant Beef. I don’t find the rest of the Sergeant Beef series particularly funny; later books tend towards lightweight pastiche. After Croft-Cooke was arrested for homosexuality in 1953, he dropped Beef, and started a dreary series featuring schoolmaster Carolus Deene. Most of the plots are plagiarised.

Barzun & Taylor, Curtis Evans, and Barry Pike are all Bruce enthusiasts. Some of Bruce’s mysteries are available online; decide for yourself.


  1. Case for Three Detectives (1936; Sergeant Beef)
  2. Case Without a Corpse (1937; Sergeant Beef)
  3. Case with No Conclusion (1939; Sergeant Beef)
  4. Case with Four Clowns (1939; Sergeant Beef)
  5. Case with Ropes and Rings (1940; Sergeant Beef)
  6. Case for Sergeant Beef (1947; Sergeant Beef)
  7. Neck and Neck (1951; Sergeant Beef)
  8. Cold Blood (1952; Sergeant Beef)
  9. At Death’s Door (1955; Carolus Deene)
  10. Death of Cold (1956; Carolus Deene)
  11. Dead for a Ducat (1956; Carolus Deene)
  12. Dead Man’s Shoes (1958; Carolus Deene)
  13. A Louse for the Hangman (1958; Carolus Deene)
  14. Our Jubilee is Death (1959; Carolus Deene)
  15. Jack on the Gallows Tree (1960; Carolus Deene)
  16. Furious Old Women (1960; Carolus Deene)
  17. A Bone and a Hank of Hair (1961; Carolus Deene)
  18. Die All, Die Merrily (1961; Carolus Deene)
  19. Nothing Like Blood (1962; Carolus Deene)
  20. Crack of Doom (1963; Carolus Deene; published in the US as Such is Death)
  21. Death in Albert Park (1964; Carolus Deene)
  22. Death at Hallows End (1965; Carolus Deene)
  23. Death on the Black Sands (1966; Carolus Deene)
  24. Death at St. Asprey’s School (1967; Carolus Deene)
  25. Death of a Commuter (1967; Carolus Deene)
  26. Death on Romney Marsh (1968; Carolus Deene)
  27. Death with Blue Ribbon (1969; Carolus Deene)
  28. Death on Allhallowe’en (1970; Carolus Deene)
  29. Death by the Lake (1971; Carolus Deene)
  30. Death in the Middle Watch (1974; Carolus Deene)
  31. Death of a Bovver Boy (1974; Carolus Deene)
  32. Murder in Miniature (1992; short stories)