To tell you the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, I don’t know how complete this entry actually is. The one book I own by Charles Westhill is not known to either Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin, nor to, the search engine that searches all of the various online venues where books are offered for sale. If you were to Google the title, you might still pick up the eBay dealer I purchased it from not too long ago, and nothing else.

   If the book I have by this author is unknown to anyone but me, how many others by him might there be, as yet undiscovered and equally unknown?

   An upcoming entry to the ongoing online Addenda CFIV will look like this, slightly expanded:


      Man-Bait. Digit (Brown-Watson) D.204, UK, pb, 1958. Setting: London.

      From the front cover:

    “She lured him on … to danger!”

      Story synopsis, from the back cover:

    “Here we have a most unusual and startling novel by a new author to this series. We learn how the hero, trying to solve the bizarre mystery of his uncle’s death, and of his own strange inheritance, came face-to-face with a number of attractive women.

   “One of these, in particular, tried several times to lure him to his death .. and the result of her scheming presents a most interesting climax to this absorbing book …”

   Not so very helpful, right? A rather low-key approach, I’d say, in spite of rather lurid cover. Let’s open the book and try

      The first few paragraphs:

   I read about the murder in the morning paper. At the first glance it meant nothing at all to me. I put the paper down, and cooked my own breakfast.

   That was normal procedure. I am Mark Barson, and I don’t make enough money to hire a staff of servants. I look after myself, except for an old lady who comes in to clean my Elstree flat.

   I’d a hangover that morning. I’d run into a rogue by the name of Arty Crumbles the night before, and Arty could certainly put the drinks away …

   Barson, as it turns out, is the author of Murder in the Morgue, fiction or non-fiction, it is not clear. Later on, still on the first page, he says:

[…] Actually I was wondering if I could hook a part in a picture that was being planned. I do all kinds of things; but I did not want to talk about myself …

   The tale Arty had told Mark Barson the night before was about a recent Exhibition Hall robbery in which the haul was worth over a million pounds. The one item the thieves really wanted was a white elephant made of ivory, reportedly with a map to a buried treasure hidden inside.

   Mark recalls to himself an uncle whom he’d never seen and a story about a white elephant and a treasure his family had been interested in years before. Now, on the morning after, the murder he’d read about in line one? It was his uncle who’d been killed.

   Are these enough clues to know where the story is going? You may take it from here.

[UPDATE]   Al Hubin says: “The book is in the British Library, but with no author date. And there’s no Charles Westhill listed in freebmd, which makes me wonder if it’s not a pseudonym.”

   My reply:  It’s more than likely you’re right. The book is copyright by Brown & Watson, the publisher, which is almost always a dead giveaway.