Reviews by Allen J. Hubin.

   When I still had my book collection (sold in 1982) I read and reviewed a number of Golden Age British mysteries, and stuck the reviews in a file. Some of the reviews were published somewhere, but here is a bunch that weren’t.


   Elaine Hamilton’s Murder Before Tuesday (Ward Lock, 1937) is better than average Golden Age material, presenting a number of intriguing characters with mysterious and intertwined relationship and satisfying plotting.

   Inspector Reynolds of the Yard does the detecting, what little there is, and fair play is not emphasized. Vanda Quayne well qualifies as a murderee. She’s a dancer who preys on people, sowing discord and hatred liberally in her path. She comes to London to perform despite threatening letters, hires a secretary, inflames passions, and, in due course, provides us with our corpse.

   The landscape is littered with suspects, a nosy reporter turns up who treads on all available toes, and Reynolds whisks a least likely suspect out of his hat at the end.


    W. W. Masters and his only work Murder in the Mirror (Longmans, 1931) are about as obscure as they come, but the story is not without merit.

   The theme is psychic or supernatural menace, with which battle must be waged; I was reminded of the later books by Jack Mann. And quite a nice surprise climaxes the story.

   We begin with a man playing cricket — but playing while in mental turmoil for he can remember nothing of who he is or where he came from or how he happens to be in the game. We later meet his friends — pals from Oxford — and learn with whom, or with what, they are now locked in deadly, unavoidable combat. Babylon, magic, mind control and murder are all effectively worked into the story.


   Nat Gould was, I gather, regarded as England’s (and maybe Australia’s, too) premier horse racing writer during his active years. At least some of his work was criminous, but of particularly thematic interest here is the rare volume of short stories, The Exploits of a Race-Course Detective (John Long, 1927).

   Those exploits comprise the first 6 (out of 15) tales in the collection. Crime stories they are (the other 9 are not), but of real detection they contain practically nothing. The sleuth is Valentine Martyn, the titular detective. He has a daughter, and we know that for her true love will out.

   The villain of the linked stories is a “sharper,” Luke Darton. Martyn foils his schemes each time, and we know that in the end Val will put him away. Each story has to do with racing; there is much of the jargon and milieu of the day, but no suspense and not much interest for present-day readers.

— To be continued.