The Mystery of the Peacock’s Eye (Brian Flynn)

By Brian FlynnFirst published: UK, 1928. Available from Dean Street Press ★★★★ This may well be the most popular detective fiction release of the week. The Puzzle Doctor has prescribed a course of Brian Flynn, now available from Dean Street Press; half the criminous blogosphere has read it; and the verdict has been unanimously in … Continue reading The Mystery of the Peacock’s Eye (Brian Flynn)

Heir to Murder (Miles Burton)

By Miles BurtonFirst published: UK: Collins, 1953 ★★ On a wet November night, Dr. Murford drives his car off a pier into Carmouth harbour. A week or so later, Nurse Penruddock is found at the bottom of a cliff. Both had been named principal heir by Lady Violet Vernham of Dragonscourt (a friendly dragon). More outrages … Continue reading Heir to Murder (Miles Burton)

The Night of Fear (Dalton)

By Moray DaltonFirst published: UK: Sampson Low, 1931; US: Harper, 1931 ★★★ Edgar Stallard, who combined writing about true crime with blackmailing practitioners, is stabbed during a Yuletide  game of hide-and-seek in the dark.  Suspicion falls on Hugh Darrow, a blind war veteran. Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC Both Curtis Evans, in his introduction for the … Continue reading The Night of Fear (Dalton)

Omit Flowers (Stuart Palmer)

By Stuart PalmerFirst published: US: Doubleday, 1937; UK: Collins, 1937, as No Flowers by Request. ★★ Kudos to Palmer for trying something new, even if it doesn't quite work. No Hildegarde Withers here;  it's one of those atmospheric jobs seen from the suspects' perspective. Grasping relatives descend on elderly eccentric Uncle Joel; he (apparently?) goes up … Continue reading Omit Flowers (Stuart Palmer)

The Man in the Moonlight (Helen McCloy)

By Helen McCloyFirst published: USA: Morrow Mystery, 1940 ★★★★ The Americans wrote better detective stories than anyone. [Discuss.  Argue.  Argue furiously.] Here's a good example why. Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC "It was only when Lambert lifted his eyes from the decapitated mouse in his hand that Basil knew something was wrong." Murder interrupts a psychological … Continue reading The Man in the Moonlight (Helen McCloy)

The Goggle-Box Affair (Val Gielgud)

By Val GielgudFirst published: UK: Collins, 1963 ★★ Gielgud - brother of John, director of the first television drama, and collaborator with Carr - took readers into Scottish technocrat John Reith's BBC (Death at Broadcasting House, 1934).  He also gave them The First Television Murder (1940). The Goggle-Box Affair, a quarter of a century later, is set in … Continue reading The Goggle-Box Affair (Val Gielgud)

L’Arbre aux doigts tordus / The Vampire Tree (Paul Halter)

By Paul HalterFirst published: Masque, France, 1996.  Translated into English as The Vampire Tree, Locked Room International, 2016. ★★ A small English village.  Witches!  Dead children! Hang on - haven't I just read this? Newlywed Patricia Sheridan moves to the Suffolk village of Lightwood.  Ironically, she's frightened of bright lights, and of trees.  Or one … Continue reading L’Arbre aux doigts tordus / The Vampire Tree (Paul Halter)

Coffin Underground (Gwendoline Butler)

By Gwendoline ButlerFirst published: UK: Collins, 1988 ★★ People die at No. 22, Church Row.  The cleaner mops up blood on the front stair - but the stain grows back every year. A diplomat's daughter buys a game in New York.  A violent criminal goes gunning for Coffin and the informer who put him away.  A … Continue reading Coffin Underground (Gwendoline Butler)

Coffin in Fashion (Gwendoline Butler)

By Gwendoline ButlerFirst published: UK: Collins, 1987; USA: Thomas Dunne Books ★★★ "The murders in Mouncy Street with boys, drugs, sadism had been thoroughly fashionable crime, really Sixties." It's 1966 - the height of Cool Britannia.  The Beatles are bigger than Jesus; miniskirts are on the rise; and LSD has hit the streets. Sergeant Coffin is … Continue reading Coffin in Fashion (Gwendoline Butler)