Reviewed by

J. STORER CLOUSTON РThe Mystery of No. 47. Moffat Yard & Co., US, hardcover, 1911. Published in the UK as His First Offence: Mills, hardcover, 1912. Film: Lenauer (France), 1937, as Dr̫le de Drame.

J. STORER CLOUSTON The Mystery of No. 47

   The Mystery of No. 47, by J. Storer Clouston, does not pretend to be anything more than a diverting extravaganza, the thesis of which, so far as it has any, is simply the utter unreliability of circumstantial evidence.

   A quiet, and eminently respectable young couple are thrown into a state of mild consternation when the husband’s uncle, an eminent bishop, happens to invite himself to dinner on the very night when the cook has chosen to take sudden leave. There seems to be only one thing to do: the bishop must be told that the wife has gone away for a day or two, to visit a sick relative — while, as a matter of fact, she simply retires to the kitchen, to provide for his entertainment.

   Now the bishop happens to be a suspicious and evil-minded man, who quickly discovers that his nephew has been lying to him, and is incapable of imagining any innocent motive for the lies. He leaps to the conclusion that the nephew is carrying on a clandestine affair with the pretty housemaid, and that, finding his wife a stumbling block, he has made way with her and probably buried the body in the back garden. Accordingly he forthwith notifies Scotland Yard.

   Now the nephew is a novelist, and at his wife’s suggestion, instead of telling the truth and clearing up the mystery, he helps his wife to go into hiding, while he himself assumes a disguise, and, posing as a detective or reporter, returns to his home, intending to pile up evidence against himself and utilise it for a forthcoming novel.

   The cross-purposes and mystifications that follow, and the extent to which he over-reaches himself, until he almost finds himself in a hangman’s noose, all make excellent nonsense, so long as one is not too exacting. Of its kind, the book is a clever and amiable piece of pleasantry.”

Reprinted from The Bookman, March 1912 (page 83). Follow the link. Thanks once again to Mike Tooney who first posted this review to Yahoo’s Golden Age of Detection group.