The Division Bell Mystery (Wilkinson)

  • By Ellen Wilkinson
  • First published: UK, 1932

American millionaire shot in the House of Commons, just as he’s about to negotiate a business deal.  Likeable young Tory MP investigates; cabinet ministers behave foolishly.  Good depiction of ’30s British politics from the inside (writer was a Labour minister).  But the crime feels oddly tacked on to the setting, and the reader should suspect X early on.


A Catalogue of Crime (Barzun & Taylor, 1989):

The drab title conceals a first-rate story, rightly praised in its day by
Dorothy Sayers.  Not only is Miss W. equipped by her work as parliamentary reporter to give a lively and picturesque account of life in and around the House of Commons, but she uses her knowledge of politics and persons to generate a great deal of drama and sketch some passionate encounters, political and private.  The crime itself is less interesting than its detection, which is done by young Robert West, private parliamentary secretary to the Home Secretary, and more officially by Insp. Blackitt.  All in all, a neglected landmark of the genre. Note one defect: The author does not make clear how small the particular H. of C. dining room (Harcourt Room) actually is.  One has to see it to understand some of the events that take place there.