by Keith Chapman

   My email traffic has been buzzing with Peter Cheyney messages, both “to” and “from.”

   UK bibliographer Steve Holland of the Bear Alley blog, which has in the past run several lengthy posts about this hugely successful author of thrillers in the 1940s and ’50s, recently wrote to say: “Amazing to see all these forgotten works by such a major author turning up.”

   Now available at Roy Glashan’s (a Project Gutenberg offshoot) is The Deadly Fresco, which made its first appearance as a newspaper serial in Australia in 1932.

   In Roy’s pipeline are several more such full-length works, written as much as eight years prior to publication of the “first” Cheyney novels recorded at Wikipedia, the Thrilling Detective website, the Official Peter Cheyney website, etc.

   Just a few days ago I told Roy about The Sign on the Roof, serialized in the Auckland Star from September 14 to October 5 in 1935, and about Death Chair serialized in the New Zealand Herald from May 21 to July 16 in 1932. (Very incidentally the NZ Herald was the first paper I worked on after arriving here in 1967, and I was an Auckland Star sub-editor at the time of its closure in 1991.)

   Roy replied, “I wasn’t aware of the existence of this novel [The Sign on the Roof]. ”

   Steve Holland found an advertisement in a British newspaper announcing serialization of Death Chair in the Sheffield Mail in 1931. It said, “Mr Peter Cheyney is already well known to Sheffield Mail serial readers who remember his splendid stories The Vengeance of Hop Fi and The Gold Kimono.”

   Both these serials were also syndicated and ran in Australian and New Zealand newspapers, such as the Auckland Star and the New Zealand Herald. Digital image files can be seen at PapersPast, a website of the National Library of New Zealand.

   Roy tells me he has ebook versions of the pair in the pipeline for his RG Library at The Vengeance of Hop Fi‘s first appearance that he knew of was the serialization in the Auckland Star beginning on July 7, 1928.

   The FictionMags Index has novella, presumably abridged, versions of the Hop Fi and Komino stories listed under the pen-name “Stephen Law” and published in 1937 in single issues of the Amalgamated Press’s Detective Weekly. FictionMags also lists a newspaper serialization of The Sign on the Roof in The Hawick News (Scotland) in 1935.

   Whetting my reading appetite for these well and truly forgotten books, not known to have been in print since the 1920s and ’30s, is this quote from the NZ Herald:

    “The Death Chair is an astounding story told by a great writer in his most brilliant form. It is drama, pathos, humour, a story that captivates the minds of all who read.”

Note:   Part Two of this two-part article appears here.