William F. Deeck

NIGEL MORLAND – The Clue in the Mirror. Farrar & Rinehart, US, hardcover, 1938. First published in the UK by Cassell, hardcover, 1937.

NIGEL MORLAND The Clue in the Mirror

   Why did the world need V. I. Warshawski and her sistren when it had Palmyra Pym? As Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Mrs. Pym — don’t bring up her unfortunate marriage, the only mistake she’s ever made — struggles mightily for law, as she sees it, and disorder, which is generally what she produces.

   To fulfill her tasks, she carries an automatic that she doesn’t know how to use properly and slugs it out toe to toe with the bad guys just like any bobbie. While not old, she’s no youngster: she was born in 1892, and if the date of publication of this novel can be taken as a clue to her age, she must at least be in her early forties.

   In this case, apparently her fifth since her appointment to the police, the recently promoted — one does wonder why, since loyalty seems to be his only virtue — Chief Inspector Shott brings to Mrs. Pym’s attention the picture of a murdered man whose corpse has disappeared. Neglecting all other work, if she has any, Mrs. Pym becomes involved, making herself, as is her wont, unpleasant to all concerned.

   In this thriller, rather than mystery, Mrs. Pym is the central focus. If you can enjoy her badinage and insults, you will enjoy the novel. It was good fun for the most part, I thought, but in 312 pages the lady can become a bit trying. I’ll read another of her investigations in novel form, but I suspect that the short-story collections featuring her might be more appealing.

— From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 12, No. 2, Spring 1990.

          The Mrs. Palmyra Pym series —

The Moon Murders (n.) Cassell 1935.
The Phantom Gunman (n.) Cassell 1935.
The Clue of the Bricklayer’s Aunt (n.) Cassell 1936.
The Street of the Leopard (n.) Cassell 1936.
The Clue in the Mirror (n.) Cassell 1937.
The Case Without a Clue (n.) Cassell 1938.
A Rope for the Hanging (n.) Cassell 1938.
A Knife for the Killer (n.) Cassell 1939.
The Clue of the Careless Hangman (n.) Cassell 1940.
A Gun for a God (n.) Cassell 1940.
The Corpse on the Flying Trapeze (n.) Cassell 1941.
A Coffin for the Body (n.) Cassell 1943.]
Mrs. Pym of Scotland Yard (co) Vallancey 1946.
The Talking Gun (n.) Polybooks 1946.
The Case of the Innocent Wife (co) Martin 1947.
Dressed to Kill (n.) Cassell 1947.
The Hatchet Murders (n.) Martin 1947.
26 Three-Minute Thrillers (co) Martin 1947.
The Lady Had a Gun (n.) Cassell 1951.
Call Him Early for the Murder (n.) Cassell 1952.
Sing a Song of Cyanide (n.) Cassell 1953.
Look in Any Doorway (n.) Cassell 1957.
A Bullet for Midas (n.) Cassell 1958.
Death and the Golden Boy (n.) Cassell 1958.
The Concrete Maze (n.) Cassell 1960.
So Quiet a Death (n.) Cassell 1960.
The Dear, Dead Girls (n.) Cassell 1961.
Mrs. Pym and other stories (co) Ellis 1976.

Editorial Comment: This is but a fraction of the huge output of crime fiction by author Nigel Morland, who also wrote as Mary Dane, John Donavan, Norman Forrest, Roger Garnett, Hugh Kimberley, Vincent McCall, Neal Shepherd & Nigel Van Biene (the latter of which may have been his real name).