KATHLEEN WADE – Crime at Gargoyles.

Hutchinson, UK, hardcover. No date stated [1947].

   The current, updated entry for Kathleen Wade in the Revised Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin, looks like this:

   WADE, KATHLEEN (Nesta Knight). 1903 -1986. SC: Detective Inspector (Hamilton) Drake, in at least those marked HD.

      Death at Aranshore (Gifford, 1942, hc)
      Death on “Calamity” (Gifford, 1945, hc) [England; Ship]
      Crime at Gargoyles (Hutchinson, 1947, hc) [England] HD
      A Cloak for Malice (Hutchinson, 1949, hc) [England]
      The Dark Moment (Hutchinson, 1951, hc) [England] HD


      Act of Violence (Hutchinson, 1954, hc)

   Note that some of this information appears only in the online Addenda, which adds some facts uncovered by British mystery bookseller and researcher Jamie Sturgeon. He also notes that “she lived with the [noted] sculptor and writer Eric Benfield (if you do a Google search you will find a little bit about both of them).”

   The link will lead you to one such page; more than likely there are several others. It was also Jamie who discovered that Inspector Drake appeared in at least two of the books, Crime at Gargoyles being one of them.

   Drake doesn’t enter in until well after halfway through, however. Until then the story focuses solely on John Shirley, home from the Far East as a war correspondent on sick leave – a “recent breakdown.”

   Which helps explain, perhaps, why he does what he does when he moves a body he finds in his guest lodgings at Max Tarn’s manor house, a former monastery called Gargoyles. He was shattered at first by meeting his ex-fiancee at the dinner party the night before, but matters are made worse when the dead man turns out to be the fellow she chose as a husband instead, Tarn’s stepson.

   Strangely enough, when he dumps the body in a small nearby stream – although he realizes how neat a frame it is – he’s thinking as much of the old man who’s been taking care of the guest lodge, a fellow named Beal, who also had good reason to hate the dead man. But good intentions often lead to bad consequences, and of course that is what they do here.

   It isn’t until another victim is found, one presumed to be suicide, but Shirley thinks not, that he decides to call on his good friend Inspector Drake, eventually confessing all. By that time, the case has evolved into as much a thriller novel as a detective story.

   One possible definition of a thriller novel: one that you pick up at midnight to read and at 2:30 you discover you haven’t put it down yet.

   Of course when you do finish it, perhaps not the same evening, you may often look back and see how inconsequential it all was, as is the case here, but not while you are reading it, not at all.