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 Case of the Three-Ring Puzzle (Christopher Bush)

By Christopher BushFirst published: UK: Macdonald, 1962; US: Macmillan, 1963 ★ Labelled "a Ludovic Travers Mystery Novel", this has no mystery, no puzzle plot, and no real reason to exist. Travers ties together three seemingly unrelated cases.  Prelude: A photographer thinks his aunt is being swindled.  Five years later, an American impostor hires Travers to … Continue reading The Case of the Three-Ring Puzzle (Christopher Bush)

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)

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)

The Upfold Witch (Josephine Bell)

By Josephine BellFirst published: UK: Hodder & Stoughton, 1964; US: Macmillan, 1964 ★★ Another of Josephine Bell's competent, rather dull mysteries, aimed at an undemanding, middle-class, middle-aged, middle-brow, middle England readership. Prologue: Farmer George Cutfield and butcher Paisley watch young author Julian Farnham carry beautiful young Celia Wainwright into her house. When he's gone, they … Continue reading The Upfold Witch (Josephine Bell)

Crime in Kensington (C. St. John Sprigg)

By C. St. John SpriggFirst published: UK: Eldon, 1933; US: McVeagh / Dial Press, 1933, as Pass the Body ★★★ With much murmuring and personal comment the crowd made way for her, until some blithe spirit at the back called out to her in fruity cockney, "Hi, miss, are you carrying away the body in that there … Continue reading Crime in Kensington (C. St. John Sprigg)