GEORGE DILNOT – The Crooks’ Game. Geoffrey Bles, UK, hardcover, 1927. Cherry Tree, UK, paperback, 1938/1945. Houghton, US, 1927. McKinlay, Stone & Mackenzie: “The Scotland Yard Library,” US, no date given. Also published in Detective Classics, May 1930.

   According to Al Hubin’s Crime Fiction IV, George Dilnot was the author of 22 works of detective fiction, two of them collaborations with Frank Froest, and another three of them Sexton Blake paperbacks in the 1930s. All but a handful were never published in the US, so any that weren’t are going to be scarce. Based on reading this one, which I purchased at PulpFest, I may go looking, but if no cheap inexpensive copies turn up, I won’t go into a funk about it.

   Dilnot’s hero is a rather down-to-earth gentleman by the name of Detective-Inspector Strickland of Scotland Yard, no first name ever stated, so far I can recall. The case revolves around a millionaire from the US, one Buck Shang, and his daughter Shirley. Having been pardoned from the jail sentence he was serving back in Colorado, he now goes by the name of Earl Millard.

   Some former associates have followed father and daughter to England, and they are determined to get two million dollars from them, no matter how they get it or who gets in their way, and that includes Inspector Strickland.

   What follows in the story is a grand game of murder, capture, escape and recapture, boat trips up and down the Thames, and all around London town, good sections and bad, accomplices, assorted gang members, double-crosses and twists galore. It’s a lot of fun to read, and not until you’re finished do you realize that only a very routine lot of detective work ever went on.

   One really striking surprise occurs well before the end of the book, with the unfortunate result being that it also ends the case as well. What follows from here is a long recap, mostly unnecessary, and a short romantic interlude at the very end.

   Which also means that Strickland is about to chuck his job at Scotland Yard and head to the US with the Millards (if I’m telling you anything I shouldn’t, I apologize), and yet Strickland showed up in one of Dilnot’s novels two years later, in The Black Ace, his second and final appearance, but still in England. I’m curious enough to make this the first one I may go looking for.