MILWARD KENNEDY – The Scornful Corpse. Dodd Mead, hardcover, 1937. No paperback edition. First published in the UK as Sic Transit Gloria (Gollancz, hardcover, 1936).

   James Southern, a successful British novelist, keeps a one-room apartment for use when he visits London. Though married, he has a platonic relationship with an American named Gloria Day, whom he has given a key to the place, and The Scornful Corpse concerns itself with what happens when he finds her there dead.

   The Police find a brief typewritten note at the scene, and when they learn Gloria was “up the spout” as they say over there, they classify the death as Suicide. Southern, convinced that Gloria would never kill herself, decides to investigate, and learns that she was rather actively involved in the Anti-Nazi movement, and in fact, there are shadowy agents out there looking for her Address Book.

   Slow-moving, tedious and predictable, this may be the earliest Mystery involving Evil Nazis, but that would be its only claim to interest: There’s also some Unintentional humor in a couple of the Character Names: Southern’s wife is Ann (presumably before she left for Hollywood) and the erstwhile father of Gloria’s baby is named. after the gay German hero of the American Revolution — Baron Von Steuben.

— Reprinted from A Shropshire Sleuth #66, July 1994.

Bibliographic Notes: Milward Kennedy was pseudonym of Milward Kennedy Burge, (1894-1968). Other pseudonyms were Evelyn Elder & Robert Milward Kennedy. Between the three pen names he wrote 18 detective novels, of which perhaps only half were reprinted in the US. For more information on the author himself, his Wikipedia page is here.