There’s good news tonight!

   Taken from publisher Fender Tucker’s latest email newsletter, Ramble House Rambler #52, along with the other upcoming mystery fiction he’s promising to go to press with soon, I was doubly delighted this evening to see the following:

   Two books by Wade Wright, author of the Paul Cameron series. ECHO OF FEAR and DEATH AT NOSTALGIA STREET. The author, who lives in South Africa, is working with Ramble House to bring back all of his mystery novels.

   Two novels from Rupert Penny, whose mysteries are filled with puzzles, time-charts, maps, railway schedules, etc. Thanks to friends in high places — Petaluma CA and Rockville MD — I was able to obtain copies of two hard-to-find titles: POLICEMAN’S HOLIDAY and POLICEMAN’S EVIDENCE. I’m working on them now.

   Delighted first of all because, as you may recall, John “Wade” Wright was interviewed here not too long ago. These will be the first US editions of any of his novels. It’s been a long wait, but it shouldn’t be too much longer. And if more are coming, as Fender seems to suggest, then all the better.

   As for Rupert Penny, he’s an author that I’ve always assumed to be a huge insiders’ secret. He wrote eight extremely scarce works of solid detective fiction between 1936 and 1941, and I’m lucky enough to have seven of them. I bought them back when they were still hard to find, but when you did, they were still relatively inexpensive. I don’t believe that I paid more than ten dollars for any one of them, but 30 to 35 years ago, ten dollars was a huge pile of change.


   Only two of the books are available on ABE at the moment. There is one copy of Sealed Room Murder, a Canadian paperback in VG condition for $145, and six copies of Policeman’s Holiday, all in paperback also, with asking prices ranging from $65 (a very worn reading copy) to $165. I haven’t checked the other online listing sites, but right now, not a single hardcover first edition is being offered on ABE.

   The Ramble House editions will be the first time that any of Rupert Penny’s will be available in the US. To whet your appetite, here’s a synopsis of Sealed-Room Murder. If your reading tastes are anything like mine, this will be hard to resist. (Unfortunately it’s not one of the book currently on Fender’s schedule, but I think it will get your mind thinking in the right direction.)

RUPERT PENNY excels all his previous form with this highly successful murder mystery. Unlike most “sealed-room ” stories, the problem is perfectly clear-cut and extremely simple in its elements. Where other mysteries try to baffle the reader by their complexity, this one will baffle by its simplicity. The story of Harriet Steele and the family that was forced upon her, is good reading even when considered as a straight novel, the situation is very real, very familiar and always lively and amusing in spite of the undertone of grimness. The thoroughly ingenious and exciting crime is put before the reader with scrupulous fairness so that he has every possible chance of leaping to the solution that will prove completely satisfying.


   From Allen J. Hubin’s Crime Fiction IV, to whet your taste buds even more, assuming perhaps that the first two sell well, and that Fender can locate copies of the rest of them to reprint:

PENNY, RUPERT; pseudonym of Ernest Basil Charles Thornett. Series Character in all titles: Insp. (Chief Insp.) Edward (Ted) Beale.

* The Talkative Policeman (n.) Collins 1936
* Policeman in Armour (n.) Collins 1937
* Policeman’s Holiday (n.) Collins 1937
* The Lucky Policeman (n.) Collins 1938
* Policeman’s Evidence (n.) Collins 1938
* She Had to Have Gas (n.) Collins 1939
* Sweet Poison (n.) Collins 1940
* Sealed-Room Murder (n.) Collins 1941