Reviews by Allen J. Hubin.


   Amusing and satirical and worth tracking down is Alan Melville’s Quick Curtain (Skeffington, 1934). Inspector Wilson of the Yard is in the audience when an actor plays dead with unseemly realism in the first act of the London premiere of “Blue Music,” a musical extravaganza staged by the redoubtable Douglas B. Douglas.

   The corpse is the star, the also redoubtable (if innocent of talent) Brandon Baker, whose fans number in the passionate hundreds of thousands.

    Wilson takes change in his own inimitable way, abetted and confounded by his journalist son, Derek. Wilson has an idea that the apparent killer (who committed suicide thereafter) is innocent, and accumulates evidence to prove his theory.

   Fortunately it all fits together SO neatly, even if rather messily for another member of the cast…


   Inspector Geoffrey Boscobell features in thirteen of Cecil M. Wills’ detective stories, and Fatal Accident (Hodder & Stoughton,1936; Ramble House, 2007) is about midway through the series.

CECIL WILLS Fatal Accident

   Here wealthy Stephen Merrivale successfully casts himself for death: he discards a tempestuous mistress, stands exposed in perfidy to his wife, drives from his home the photographer who has befriended his wife, and regularly antagonizes his nephew, whom he keeps on a very short leash.

   So Merrivale’s corpse comes as no surprise, except that he seems to have died in a car accident in which a random passing motorist may have been culpably negligent.

   These events in due course come to the attention of the Yard. Boscobell travels to the rural scene and finds a wealth of suspects, but the death stubbornly remains an accident, despite his instincts and efforts…

   Another generally competent product of the Golden Age, though the means of death is rather pulled from a convenient hat.


   The Griffith Case by John Bentley (Eldon, 1935) chronicles the second of nine investigations by Sir Richard Herriwell, noted antiquarian and amateur sleuth, whose “usual procedure is to accept a certain conclusion and then work back to prove it.” (The book is subtitled: “A Problem in Inductive Reasoning.”)

   He assists Scotland Yard’s Chief Inspector Barton, a bluff policeman not given to subtleties. Here Marcus Griffith, a wealthy and odious moneylender, is stabbed to death in his country residence.

   As with most unloved murder victims, various suspects appear; indeed, a confession is forthcoming in due course. But Herriwell is not satisfied… Nor, hugely, was I; this seems but an unremarkable product of detection’s golden age.


   NOTE: Go here for the previous installment of this column.

[EDITORIAL COMMENT.]  Fender Tucker, head man at Ramble House, is doing his best to get some of these gems of the “Golden Age” back in print, and in fact some of the books he publishes are true First US Editions.

   Such is the case for Fatal Accident, by Cecil M. Wills. That’s the cover you see up above. My suggestion? Follow the link and encourage him to keep publishing books like this one!