Search Results for 'E. R. Punshon'

E. R. PUNSHON – Mystery Villa. Detective Sergeant Bobby Owen #4. Gollancz, UK, hardcover, 1934. Penguin, UK, paperback, 1950. Dean Street Press, UK, trade paperback, 2015. No US edition.

   Written in the days when Sergeant Bobby Owen, Punshon’s long-running series character, was young and throbbing with ambition and energy, this small puzzle of the mysterious lady of Tudor Lodge is a tiny little mystery that grows and grows and grows.

   But slowly! It is fifty pages before Bobby finds reason enough to investigate within, and in doing so he widens the case forty or fifty years into the past – to a happy event that never took place, and to a murder that did.

   (Sorry to be so ambiguous. Pat of the soporific pleasure of reading this novel is just just being able to relax and let events flow over you, and I hope I haven’t already said too much and deprived you of that particular enjoyment.)

   The characters are nicely done – save Bobby – who has no personal life to speak of, and otherwise is described completely by the first sentence o this review. Outdated, but drawn with precision and care.

   It is the detective work that fails to hold up, beginning with a sloppy search of the house by the police themselves, and continuing on as Bobby completely forgets about one of the characters involved. And of course that person turns out to by the, um, well, yes, I shouldn’t even say that , should I?

   Overall, the worst crime a detective story can perpetrate is that of being unconvincing. What with faulty premises, unlikely motivations, and sheer, devout strongheadedness, well – it’s not really that bad, but …

–Very slightly revsed from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 5, No. 6, Nov/Dec 1981.

E. R. PUNSHON “The Avenging Phonograph.” First published in Black and White, UK, 12 January 1907. Collected in The Ash-Tree Press Annual Macabre 2000, edited by Jack Adrian, and Bobby Owen, Black Magic, Bloodshed and Burglary: Selected Short Stories of E. R Punshon (Ramble House, US, 2015).

   Before hitting upon the idea of writing detective novels to make a living, with some 35 cases of police constable Bobby Owen produced between 1933 and 1956, E. R. Punshon was a prolific author of dozens of tales for the British weeklies of the teens and 20s of the last century.

   Only a handful of these had even a hint of the supernatural or the macabre, and a trace of the latter is all that’s in “The Avenging Photograph.” It is the mayor of a small identified town who has committed murder and who is greatly relieved when the coroner’s jury brings in a verdict of suicide.

   Perhaps it is only conscience working its way through his mind, but suddenly the mayor has this almost undeniable compulsion (not really a conscience!) to tell someone — anyone! — that he did it. That he was the killer.

   Not being a king able to talk to the reeds, he finds himself buying a recording phonograph, one of those new machines which you can speak into and have your voice preserved on a wax cylinder inside.

   I won’t tell you more, except to say that the ten pages of this rather understated story should make a solid impression on anyone happening to read it, an opportunity, I imagine, not very likely to occur in its original publication, a magazine so rare that I doubt more than five copies may even exist.

William F. Deeck

E .R. PUNSHON – Information Received. Ernest Benn, UK, hardcover, 1933; Penguin Books, UK, paperback, 1955. Houghton Mifflin, US, hardcover, 1934.

   In his first recorded case, Bobby Owen (B.A. — pass degree only — Oxon) is a police constable patrolling a dull suburb. The suburb livens up when mysterious strangers start swarming and an alleged apple thief makes his presence felt.

   All this leads to the discovery of the body of Sir Christopher Clark, shot twice near the heart in his billiard room at the same time his safe in the study was being emptied by a burglar.

   With a fair number of suspects and an almost equal number of motive — embezzlement, ruination, inheritance, lovers denied — the case is a complex one. It isn’t helped by a couple of the suspects claiming that it wasn’t murder when it obviously was. A conspiracy of silence, except for an occasional odd remark, doesn’t assist in clearing things up.

   While the novel is about Owen and his role, the real brains of the investigation is Superintendent Mitchell, a canny and amusing policeman. Enjoy Mitchell and hope that Owen matures quickly if he’s going to be on his own.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 11, No. 3, Summer 1989.

Editorial Comment:   Bobby Owen was the leading protagonist in a whopping 35 detective novels by Punshon, beginning in 1933 and continuing on to 1956. I have no record of the number of Superintendent Mitchell’s appearances, but it’s easy to imagine he was on hand more than just the once.

   Not many writers have had a career lasting as long as the 56 years that British mystery writer E. R. Punshon happened to have. Even so, Nick Fuller, on the pages of his website devoted to Punshon’s detective fiction, calls him “one of the most shamefully neglected writers of detective fiction,” with plots “rivaled only by [those of] John Dickson Carr.”

   He had, Nick goes on to say, the same “gift of conveying atmosphere and setting [and with the same adeptness] at devising clues and situations.” His work are also studies of character, of “the catalyst that drives an ordinary human being to commit the ultimate crime.”


   A complete list of Punshon’s mystery fiction in book form will follow Mary’s review of The Bittermeads Mystery, taken from Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin. The detective twosome of Inspector Carter and Sergeant Bell appears in some his early books, but the series character who appears most often is Bobby Owen, who, according to Nick, “rises from the rank of police constable (in Information Received, 1933) to Commander of Scotland Yard by the later books.”

   The Bittermeads Mystery is a stand-alone, however. Robert Dunn appeared in this book and no other.        – Steve

E. R. PUNSHON – The Bittermeads Mystery

Knopf, hc, 1922. [No British edition?]

   The Bittermeads Mystery gets off to a lively start with protagonist Robert Dunn eluding pursuit after a donnybrook (or should I say a Dunnybrook?) with a man he was following through a wood.

   Dunn continues his nocturnal activities by sloping along to Bittermeads, the titular house, where he finds a burglary in progress. Seizing the day, or rather the night, Dunn knocks the burglar out and after exchanging clothing with the unconscious man (subsequently concealed on the village common opposite the house) he enters the dwelling hoping to be discovered.

   An unusual ambition, you may say, but since a burglar is a shady sort he hopes to be invited to join the murky band associated with Bittermeads. His reasoning is he will not be turned him over to the police as the residents don’t want attention drawn to the house. In this way he hopes to find out what has happened to his old chum Charley Wright, who was romantically involved with Ella Cayley, the daughter of the house, but has disappeared. (He has another reason for his interest in joining the enemy camp, but it is not revealed until some way into the narrative.)

   The only people at home are Ella and her ailing mother and after tying Ella up and promising not to disturb her mother, Dunn explores the house – only to find the murdered Charley in a packing case in an attic.

   Ella’s stepfather, Deede Dawson, returns home and nabs Dunn but decides to employ him as chauffeur and gardener – not an action one would expect of an honest man. Dunn’s first task is to finish nailing down the lid of the packing case without revealing he knows what is in it. But then Ella takes the packing case away in a car, thus removing the only evidence he can produce to launch a police investigation.

   Then there is another murder as the plot thickens up in satisfactory fashion.

   My verdict: The two matters Dunn is investigating have no immediate apparent link but ultimately are shown to be intertwined. Although the close reader may well deduce a certain hidden identity and the name of the person masterminding the mayhem, it will likely not be until fairly late in the book.

   The action gallops along and we have an unusual look at the romantic agony of a male protagonist as well as his internal musings as the plot develops. Although it is a fast, light read there are noir underpinnings and the whole is resolved with a satisfactory comeuppance for the egregious villain of the piece.


         Mary R

BIBLIOGRAPHY [British editions only, unless retitled in the US; all covers shown are those of the US editions, however.] —

PUNSHON, E(rnest) R(obertson) (1872-1956); see pseudonym Robertson Halket

* Earth’s Great Lord (n.) Ward 1901 [Australia]
* -Constance West (n.) Lane 1905 [England]
* The Mystery of Lady Isobel (n.) Hurst 1907 [England]
* The Choice (n.) Ward 1908 [England]
* The Spin of the Coin (n.) Hurst 1908 [England]
* The Glittering Desire (n.) Ward 1910 [England]
* Hidden Lives (n.) Ward 1913 [England]
* -The Crowning Glory (n.) Hodder 1914 [England]
* Arrows of Chance (n.) Ward 1917 [England]
* The Miser Earl (n.) Newnes 1917
* The Solitary House (n.) Ward 1919 [England]
* The Woman’s Footprint (n.) Hodder 1919 [England]
* The Ruby Bracelet (n.) Newnes 1920 [England]
* The Bittermeads Mystery (n.) Knopf 1922 [England]
* Dunslow (n.) Ward 1922 [England]
* The Blue John Diamond (n.) Clode 1929 [England]
* The Unexpected Legacy (n.) Benn 1929 [Insp. Carter; Sgt. Bell; England]
* The Cottage Murder (n.) Benn 1931 [Insp. Carter; Sgt. Bell; England]
* Proof, Counter Proof (n.) Benn 1931 [Insp. Carter; Sgt. Bell; England]
* Genius in Murder (n.) Benn 1932 [Insp. Carter; Sgt. Bell; England]
* Truth Came Out (n.) Benn 1932 [Insp. Carter; Sgt. Bell; England]
* Information Received (n.) Benn 1933 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* The Crossword Murder (n.) Knopf 1934; See: Crossword Mystery (Gollancz 1934).
* Crossword Mystery (n.) Gollancz 1934 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* Death Among the Sunbathers (n.) Benn 1934 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* Mystery Villa (n.) Gollancz 1934 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* Death Comes to Cambers (n.) Gollancz 1935 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* Death of a Beauty Queen (n.) Gollancz 1935 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* The Bath Mysteries (n.) Gollancz 1936 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; London]
* The Dusky Hour (n.) Gollancz 1937 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* Mystery of Mr. Jessop (n.) Gollancz 1937 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* Comes a Stranger (n.) Gollancz 1938 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* Death of a Tyrant (n.) Hillman-Curl 1938; See: Dictator’s Way (Gollancz 1938).


* Dictator’s Way (n.) Gollancz 1938 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* Murder Abroad (n.) Gollancz 1939 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; France]
* Suspects-Nine (n.) Gollancz 1939 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* Four Strange Women (n.) Gollancz 1940 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* The Dark Garden (n.) Gollancz 1941 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* Death in the Chalkpits (n.) Mystery Novel of the Month 1941; See: The Dusky Hour (Gollancz 1937).
* Ten Star Clues (n.) Gollancz 1941 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* The Bathtub Murder Case (n.) Detective Novel Classics 1942; See: The Bath Mysteries (Gollancz 1936).
* Diabolic Candelabra (n.) Gollancz 1942 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* The Conqueror Inn (n.) Gollancz 1943 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]


* Night’s Cloak (n.) Gollancz 1944 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* Secrets Can’t Be Kept (n.) Gollancz 1944 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* There’s a Reason for Everything (n.) Gollancz 1945 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* It Might Lead Anywhere (n.) Gollancz 1946 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* Helen Passes By (n.) Gollancz 1947 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* The House of Godwinsson (n.) Gollancz 1948 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* Music Tells All (n.) Gollancz 1948 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; Sgt. Bell; England]
* So Many Doors (n.) Gollancz 1949 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* Everybody Always Tells (n.) Gollancz 1950 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* The Golden Dagger (n.) Gollancz 1951 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* The Secret Search (n.) Gollancz 1951 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* The Attending Truth (n.) Gollancz 1952 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* Strange Ending (n.) Gollancz 1953 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* Brought to Light (n.) Gollancz 1954 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* Dark Is the Clue (n.) Gollancz 1955 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* Triple Quest (n.) Gollancz 1955 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]
* Six Were Present (n.) Gollancz 1956 [Det. Sgt. Bobby Owen; England]

HALKET, ROBERTSON; pseudonym of E. R. Punshon, (1872-1956)

* Where Every Prospect Pleases (Benn, 1933, hc) [France]
* Documentary Evidence (Nicholson, 1936, hc) [England]


   Mary Reed and Eric Mayer are in the process of compiling an online directory of all freely available etexts of mystery fiction published during the Golden Age of Detection. If you know of any they’ve missed, additions are extremely welcome.

by Curt J. Evans

   This list follows (or precedes) my list of “50 Favorite Golden Age Generation British Detective Novels,” which you may find here. This list consists of more worthy British works of detection, both novels and short story collections, but with the additional restriction that the books that follow all came from the 1920s. One may notice that, once again, men predominate, in this case accounting for 75% of the books.

   The top authors, accounting for 70% of the books, are: Freeman Wills Crofts (5), R. Austin Freeman (4), John Rhode (4), Agatha Christie (3), Dorothy L. Sayers (2), G.D.H and Margaret Cole (2), Gladys Mitchell (2), J.J. Connington (2) and Henry Wade (2).

   Looking overall at the Twenties, 43% of the books come from just two years, 1928 and 1929, suggesting that the genre was improving as the decade wore on and was heading into its most golden years yet, those of the 1930s.

         NOVELS (36)

   Omissions include Herbert Adams, Lynn Brock, A. Fielding, Ronald Knox and Philip Macdonald; but I am not crazy about Brock, I have not read enough Adams, and I believe the other three did much better work in the next decade.

1. Agatha Christie, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920)
   A fine country house mystery that gave the world Hercule Poirot. A bit old-fashioned, but all in all one of the strongest debuts in the literature.

2. Freeman Wills Crofts, The Cask (1920)
   Another significant debut, for its apotheosis of alibi-busting and astonishing devotion to material detail. Over- long, as the author himself admitted, but one that should be read.

3. Eden Phillpotts, The Grey Room (1921)
   Unfairly dismissed by Julian Symons, this tale is an appealing take on the haunted room theme. Though it exhibits the venerable author’s penchant for philosophical digressions (which became even more pronounced as he aged), it is shorter than many of his works — and is none the worse for that.

4. A.A. Milne, The Red House Mystery (1922)
   Infamously dismantled by Raymond Chandler, this charming tale is still enjoyable even if one concedes logical faults in the plot structure.

5. Edgar Wallace, The Crimson Circle (1922)
   A deservedly once-celebrated tale by the British Golden Age King of the Thriller. This one allows scope for deduction by the reader and clearly influenced the genre.

6. R. Austin Freeman, The Cat’s Eye (1923)
   Another thrillerish tale, but still one with plenty of ratiocination by the author’s Great Detective, Dr. Thorndyke.

7. Dorothy L. Sayers, Whose Body? (1923)
   Another fine debut. Some may find Great Detective Lord Peter Wimsey too facetious, but the tale is very clever, with a memorable culprit.

8. Freeman Wills Crofts, Inspector French’s Greatest Case (1924)
   The debut of Inspector French sees the author moving away from dependence on alibis, but still prolific with clever devices of deception. Too much travelogue and dialect speech, but still a good case.

9. A. E. W. Mason, The House of the Arrow (1924)
   A major work by an author who contributed only sparingly to mystery. Beautifully written.

10. G. D. H. and Margaret Cole, The Death of a Millionaire (1925)
   While flawed in some ways, this tale demonstrates that British Golden Age mystery could be used as a vehicle for leftist-tinged satire.

11. R. Austin Freeman, The Shadow of the Wolf (1925)
   Freeman’s most famous inverted mysteries are the tales collected in The Singing Bone and the 1930s novel Mr. Pottermack’s Oversight, but this inverted tale, an expansion of an earlier version, is very good indeed.

12. Anthony Wynne, The Mystery of the Evil Eye (1925)
   The debut of Great Detective Dr. Hailey, who later revealed a marked penchant for locked room problems. No such problem here, but another noteworthy debut.

13. Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926)
   Brilliant; one of the landmarks of the genre, probably the archetypal twenties detective novel, wrongly or rightly.

14. G. D. H. and Margaret Cole, The Blatchington Tangle (1926)
   A humorous country house tale, but with more detection than we get in, say, Agatha Christie’s similar (and better- known) The Secret of Chimneys (which was published the previous year).

15. John Rhode, Dr. Priestley’s Quest (1926)
   The author’s second Dr. Priestly tale, but more striking than the first in its impressively rigorous application of the principles of logical deduction.

16. J. J. Connington, Murder in the Maze (1927)
   In some ways repellent in attitude, yet inspired in its central notion (multiple slayings in one of those country house garden hedge mazes) and told with verve.

17. Freeman Wills Crofts, Inspector French and the Starvel Tragedy (1927)
   One of the great original uses of burned bodies, even if laborious at times in the telling.

18. Dorothy L. Sayers, Unnatural Death (1927)
   Offers a notably celebrated how? problem and an interesting why? one, plus some amusing writing and a very well-observed spinster.

19. Victor L. Whitechurch, The Crime at Diana’s Pool (1927)
   Archetypal country house, village tale. Drawn mildly, but pleasantly (thanks David!).

20. Freeman Wills Crofts, The Sea Mystery (1928)
   One of the author’s shorter works and none the worse for that. Some very clever devices, and characters less stodgy than usual. It should have been called The Crate, however.

21. Anthony Gilbert, The Murder of Mrs. Davenport (1928)
   One of the early detective novels by a prolific author who was more comfortable, in my opinion, with mystery than true detection. But this is one of her best efforts at true detection.

22. Robert Gore-Browne, Murder of an M. P.! (1928)
   One of two mysteries by a forgotten playwright and mainstream novelist. The second, a thriller, is much inferior in my view. The first, praised in A Catalogue of Crime, is a clever tale with a memorable amateur detective.

23. R. Austin Freeman, As a Thief in the Night (1928)
   An impressive achievment. Though somewhat old-fashioned in tone, the novel boasts good characterization, suspense and fascinating science.

24. John Rhode, The Murders in Praed Street (1928)
   Notable use of a particular plot gambit involving multiple murders (the first?). Good opening setting, some good characters and fiendish murders, though Dr. Priestley, Rhode’s Great Detective, is a bit imperceptive on one matter!

25. Henry Wade, This Missing Partners (1928)
   Second genre effort by one of the major figures of the period. More “Croftsian” than later works, but with interesting and original characterization.

26. Agatha Christie, The Seven Dials Mystery (1929)
   The Crime Queen’s take on an Edgar Wallace thriller, but with all the detection of her straight detective novels. Some good humor as well.

27. Freeman Wills Crofts, The Box Office Murders (1929)
   Another thriller with detection. We know who the criminals are, but just what they are up to is an interesting question.

28. J. J. Connington, The Case with Nine Solutions (1929)
   The Case with Nine Possibilities might have been a more accurate title, but this is a strong work, with an interesting situation and even detective case notes at the end!

29. C. H .B. Kitchin, Death of My Aunt (1929)
   Once celebrated (and still fairly well-remembered) detective novel by a mainstream novelist successfully aiming here at a more realistic treatment of character in a genre novel.

30. & 31. Gladys Mitchell
, Speedy Death (1929), The Mystery of a Butcher’s Shop (1929)
   An impressive one-two debut punch by a truly unique mystery writer. The first, a country house tale, is original in myriad ways. So is the second, though for many it may be too farcical and bizarre. Both have Mrs. Bradley, one of the great women detectives.

32. E. R. Punshon, The Unexpected Legacy (1928)
   First of five Inspector Carter and Sergeant Bell mysteries by a longtime mainstream novelist who had written mystery before but not really detection. There is detection here, though the author would produce better examples of it later. What appeals most are his two police detectives, who are very original for the period.

33. & 34. John Rhode
, The Davidson Case (1929), The House on Tollard Ridge (1929)
   The first novel boasts one of the most complex plots of the decade, the second pleasingly adult characters, a spooky house and some neat gadgets. Both have the acerbic Dr. Priestley.

35. P[eter] R[edcliffe] Shore, The Bolt (1929)
   A strong village take by an author about whom I know absolutely nothing beyond the name and that he was born in 1892, ostensibly. He published a second mystery, The Death Film, in 1932. Of this later book a review states: “It consists of detection, and more detection, and then some, and it was all needed. Straight investigation of crooked involution can hardly be better done.” Apparently it involves murder at the cinema, but I have never seen a copy of it.

36. Henry Wade, The Duke of York’s Steps (1929)
   Another notable work of detection by this author, with better-than-average characterization and writing.


   Omissions here include collections by Christie, the Coles, and Sayers, as well as one by the Grand Old Man himself, Arthur Conan Doyle. I believe the four collections below are superior, coming from supreme masters of the short form who were still at the top of their games.

37. Ernest Bramah, The Eyes of Max Carrados (1923)

38. H. C. Bailey, Mr. Fortune’s Trials (1925)

39. G. K. Chesterton, The Incredulity of Father Brown (1926)

40. R. Austin Freeman, The Magic Casket (1927)

150 Favorite Golden Age British Detective Novels:
A Very Personal Selection, by Curt J. Evans

   Qualifications are the writers had to publish their first true detective novel between 1920 and 1941 (the true Golden Age) and be British or close enough (Carr). So writers like, say, R. Austin Freeman, Michael Gilbert and S. S. Van Dine get excluded.

   I wanted to get outside the box a bit and so I’m sure I made what will strike some as some odd choices. This is a personal list. If I were making a totally representative list John Dickson Carr’s The Three Coffins, Nicholas Blake’s The Beast Must Die, Michael Innes’ Lament for a Maker, Anthony Berkeley’s The Poisoned Chocolates Case, Sayers’ Gaudy Night, etc., would all be there). And lists evolve over time. It’s highly likely, for example, that as I read more of Anthony Wynne and David Hume, for example, they would get more listings.

   Also I excluded great novels like And Then There Were None, The Burning Court and Trial and Error, for example, because I felt like they didn’t fully fit the definition of true detective novels. In any list list I would make of great mysteries, they would be there.

   If people conclude from this list that my five favorite Golden Age generation British detective novelists are Christie, Street, Mitchell, Carr and Bruce, that would be fair enough, though I must add that they were very prolific writers, so more listings shouldn’t be so surprising.

   The 150 novels break down by decade as follows:

       1920s 9 (6%)
       1930s 87 (58%)
       1940s 30 (20%)
       1950s and beyond 24 (16%)

   A pretty graphic indicator of my preference for the 1930s!

   Also, of the 61 writers, I believe 40 are men and 21 women — I hope my count is right! — which challenges the conventional view today that most British detective novels of the Golden Age were produced by women. Of these, 31, or just over half, eventually became members of the Detection Club. I exclude a few of these luminaries, such as Ronald Knox and Victor Whitechurch (am I anti-clerical?!).

The Crooked Hinge (1938)
The Judas Window (1938) (as Carter Dickson)
The Reader Is Warned (1939) (as Carter Dickson)
The Man Who Could Not Shudder (1940)
The Case of the Constant Suicides (1941)
The Gilded Man (1942) (as Carter Dickson)
She Died a Lady (1944) (as Carter Dickson)
He Who Whispers (1946)
   â— It’s probably sacrilege not to have The Three Coffins on the list (especially when you have The Gilded Man!), but when I read Coffins I enjoyed it for the horror more than the locked room, which seemed overcomplicated too me (need to reread though).

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd 1926
Murder at the Vicarage 1930
The ABC Murders 1936
Death on the Nile 1937
One, Two, Buckle My Shoe 1940
Five Little Pigs 1942
A Murder Is Announced 1950
The Pale Horse 1961
   â— Haven’t reread The ABC Murders recently; was somewhat disappointed with Murder on the Orient Express when rereading and thus excluded from the list. And Then There Were None regretfully excluded, because I wasn’t sure it really qualifies as a detective story (there’s not really a detective and the solution comes per accidens).

Speedy Death (1929)
The Mystery of a Butcher’s Shop (1929)
The Saltmarsh Murders (1932)
Death at the Opera (1934)
The Devil at Saxon Wall (1935)
St. Peter’s Finger (1938)
The Rising of the Moon (1944)
Late, Late in the Evening (1976)
   â— A true original, but not to everyone’s taste.

The Davidson Case (1929)
Shot at Dawn (1934)
The Corpse in the Car (1935)
Death on the Board (1937)
The Bloody Tower (1938)
Death at the Helm (1941)
Murder, M.D. (1943) (as Miles Burton)
Vegetable Duck (1944)
   â— The Golden Age master of murder means, underrated in my view.

   LEO BRUCE (8)
Case for Three Detectives (1936)
Case with Ropes and Rings (1940)
Case for Sergeant Beef (1947)
Our Jubilee is Death (1959)
Furious Old Women (1960)
A Bone and a Hank of Hair (1961)
Nothing Like Blood (1962)
Death at Hallows End (1965)
   â— In print but underappreciated, he carried on the Golden Age witty puzzle tradition in a tarnishing era for puzzle lovers.

The Case With Nine Solutions (1929)
The Sweepstake Murders (1935)
The Castleford Conundrum (1932)
The Ha-Ha Case (1934)
In Whose Dim Shadow (1935)
   â— An accomplished, knowledgeable puzzler.

Death of An Author (1935)
Policemen in the Precinct (1949)
Murder of a Martinet (1951)
Murder in the Mill-Race (1952)
The Double Turn (1956) (as Carol Carnac)
   â— Has taken a back seat to the Crime Queens, but was very prolific and often quite good (my favorites, as can be seen, are more from the 1950s, when she became a little less convention bound).

   E. R. PUNSHON (5)
Genius in Murder (1932)
Crossword Mystery (1934)
Mystery of Mr. Jessop (1937)
Ten Star Clues (1941)
Diabolic Candelabra (1942)
   â— Admired by Sayers, this longtime professional writer (he published novels for over half a century) is underservingly out of print.

Death of a Ghost (1934)
The Case of the Late Pig (1937)
Dancers in Mourning (1937)
More Work for the Undertaker (1949)
   â— Her imagination tends to overflow the banks of pure detection, but these are very good, genuine puzzles.

G. D. H. and MARGARET COLE (4)
Burglars in Bucks (1930)
The Brothers Sackville (1936)
Disgrace to the College (1937)
Counterpoint Murder (1940)
   â— Clever tales by husband and wife academics not altogether justly classified as “Humdrums.”

The Sea Mystery (1928)
Sir John Magill’s Last Journey (1930)
The Hog’s Back Mystery (1933)
Mystery on Southampton Water (1934)
   â— The “Alibi King,” he’s more paid lip service (particularly for genre milestone The Cask) than actually read today, but at his best he is is worth reading for puzzle fans.

Artists in Crime (1938)
Seath in a White Tie (1938)
Surfeit of Lampreys (1940)
Opening Night (1951)
   â— Art, society and theater all appealingly addressed by a very witty writer, with genuine detection included.

Strong Poison (1930)
The Five Red Herrings (1931)
Have His Carcase (1932)
Murder Must Advertise (1933)
   â— As can be guessed I prefer middle period Sayers — less facetious than earlier books, but also less self-important than later ones.

The Dying Alderman (1930)
No Friendly Drop (1931)
Lonely Magdalen (1940)
A Dying Fall (1955)
   â— Very underrated writer — some other good works (Mist on the Saltings, Heir Presumptive) were left out because they are more crime novels.

Murder in Hospital (1937)
From Natural Causes (1939)
Death in Retirement (1956)
   â— Far less known than the Crime Queens, but a worthy if inconsistent author.

A Question of Proof (1935)
Thou Shell of Death (1936)
Minute for Murder (1949)
   â— His most important book in genre history is The Beast Must Die, but I prefer these as puzzles.

Death in High Heels (1941)
Green for Danger (1945)
Tour de Force (1955)
   â— One of the few who can match Christie in the capacity to surprise while playing fair.

They Rang Up the Police (1939)
Murder Included (1950)
And Be a Villain (1958)
   â— Underrated mainstream novelist who dabbled in detection.

The Poisoner’s Mistake (1936)
Quickly Dead (1937)
Like a Guilty Thing (1938)
   â— Almost forgotten, but an enjoyable, humanist detective novelist (B. C. worked in the publishing industry and was the son of novelist Thomas Cobb, who also wrote mysteries)

Thirteen Guests (1938)
The Judge Sums Up (1942)
The Double Crime (1953)
   â— A member of the famous and talented Farjeon family (both his father Benjamin and sister Eleanor were notable writers), he wrote mostly thrillers but produced some more genuine detection.

Give a Corpse a Bad Name (1940)
Neck in a Noose (1942)
Enough to Kill a Horse (1955)
   â— Came in at the tail-end of the Golden Age, like Brand, though she was more prolific (and not as good). She started with an appealing Lord Peter Wimsey knock-off (Toby Dyke), but eventually helped found the more middle class and modern “country cottage” mystery (downsized from the country house).

When the Wind Blows (1949)
An English Murder (1951)
That Yew Trees Shade (1954)
   â— Another one who came in near the end of the Golden Age proper, his best is considered to be Tragedy at Law (see P. D. James), but I like best the tales he produced in postwar years.

The Public School Murder (1932)
A Dagger in Fleet Street (1934)
The Shadow on the Downs (1935)
   â— A surprisingly underrated writer, witty and clever in the the way people like English mystery writers to be (why has no one reprinted him?).

The Bell Is Answered (1934)
Twenty-Five Sanitary Inspectors (1935)
   â— Another mostly forgotten farceur of detection.

Tidings of Joy (1934)
We Shot an Arrow (1939)
   â— Working together, these two authors (one, Goodchild, a prolific thriller writer) produced some fine detective novels (their best-known works are a pair based on real life trials).

A Blunt Instrument (1938)
Detection Unlimited (1953)
   â— Better known for her Regency romances (still read today), Heyer produced some admired exuberantly humorous (if a bit formulaic) detective novels (plotted by her husband).

Murder on Safari (1938)
Death of an Aryan (1939)
   â— After a decent apprentice genre effort, this fine writer produced two fine detective novels, interestingly set in Africa, with an excellent series detective.

The Daffodil Affair (1942)
What Happened at Hazelwood (1946)
   â— So exuberantly imaginative, he is hard to contain within the banks of true detection, but these are close enough, I think, and I prefer them to his earlier, better-known works.

Death in a Deck Chair (1930)
Corpse in Cold Storage ((1934)
   â— A neglected mainstay of the Detection Club, hardly read today.

   C. H. B. KITCHIN (2)
Death of My Aunt (1929)
Death of His Uncle (1939)
   â— These are fairly well-known attempts at more literate detective fiction, by an accomplished serious novelist.

Rynox (1930)
The Maze (1932)
   â— A writer who often stepped into thriller territory (and produced some classics of that form), he produced with these two books closer efforts at true detection (indeed, the latter is a pure puzzle)

Midsummer Murder (1937)
Measure for Murder (1941)
   â— Clever efforts by an underappreciated author.

He Should Not Have Slipped! (1939)
   â— About the closest I would say that this author (actually two men) came to full dress detection.

Not to be Taken (1938)
   â— A true detective novel and first-rate village poisoning tale by this important figure in the mystery genre, who often tweaked conventional detection.

The Bells of Old Bailey (1947)
   â— Best of this literate lady’s detective novels, her last before her untimely death.

Cut-Throat (1932)
   â— Prolific writer who is not my favorite, but I liked this one, with its clever alibi problem.

The Upfold Farm Mystery (1931)
   â— Uneven, prolific detective novelist, but this one has much to please.

Murder of an M.P.! (1928)
   â— One of my favorite 1920s detective novels, by a mere dabbler in the field.

Expert Evidence (1938)
   â— Surprisingly cerebral effort by a “tough” British thriller writer.

Murder Comes Home (1950)
   â— My favorite books by this author tend to be more suspense than true detection.

Murder at School (1931)
   â— Good foray into detection by well-regarded straight novelist.

The Ghost It Was (1936)
   â— About the closest I would say that this crime novelist came to detection.

Bullets Bite Deep (1932)
   â— Though this series later devolved into beat ’em up thrillers, this first effort has genuine detection (and American gangsters). More reading of this author’s other series may yield additional results.

Dead Man’s Quarry (1930)
   â— One of the two detective novels by a forgotten member of the Detection Club, more a mainstream novelist (though forgotten in that capacity as well).

Body Found Stabbed (1932) (as John Cameron)
   â— Detective novel by writer better known for his satire.

Burial Service (1939)
   â— Mostly forgotten Australian-born writer of detective fiction, mostly set in Britain. This tale, his finest, is not. It one of the most original of the period.

Casual Slaughters (1935)
   â— A very good, virtually unknown village tale.

On the Night of the 18th…. (1936)
   â— More realistic detective novel for the place and period, in terms of its depiction of often unattractive human motivations, by a writer who veered more toward thrillers and crime novels.

   A. A. MILNE
The Red House Mystery (1922)
   â— A well-known classic, mocked by Chandler — but, hey, what a sourpuss he was, what?

The Captain’s Curio (1933)
   â— Counted because his true detection started in the Golden Age. His best work, however, is found in crime novels (and straight novels)

One Man’s Muddle (1937)
   â— A strikingly hardboiled tale by a little-known author who was written of on this website fairly recently.

Knock, Murderer, Knock! (1939)
   â— Mysterious individual who wrote three acidulous detective novels. This is the first, a classic spa tale.

The Perfect Alibi (1934)
   â— A fine farceur of detection, whose genre talent was purged when he became a humorless Stalinist ideologue (he was killed in action in Spain).

The Missing Moneylender (1931)
   â— Controversial because of comments about Jews (as the title should suggest), yet extremely clever.

The Franchise Affair (1948)
   â— Genuine detection, though veering into crime novel territory (and veering very well, thank you).

The Clue of the Silver Key (1930)
   â— One of the closest attempts at true detection by the famed thriller writer.

She Faded Into Air (1941)
   â— See Edgar Wallace. A classic vanishing case, with some of the author’s patented shuddery moments.

Murder of a Lady (1931)
   â— Fine locked room novel by an author who tended to be too formulaic but could be good (can probably add one or two more as I read him).

Editorial Comment:   Coming up soon (as soon as I can format it for posting) and covering some of the same ground as Curt’s, is a list of “100 Good Detective Novels,” by Mike Grost. The emphasis is also on detective fiction, so obviously some of the authors will be the same as those in Curt’s list, but Mike doesn’t restrict himself to British authors, and the time period is much wider, ranging from 1866 to 1988, and the actual overlap is very small.

    To supplement Bill Deeck’s reference work about lending-library mysteries, Murder at 3c a Day, I’ve just uploaded scans of the covers of those that Hillman-Curl published in 1938, 24 of them in all. Authors with more than one book from H-C that year were J. S. Fletcher, Norman Forrest [Nigel Morland], Paul Haggard, E. R. Punshon and Edmund Snell.

    I asked Bill Pronzini, who’s been supplying me with the covers to upload, if he could recommend any of the titles from 1938. Are there any unknown gems in the lot? His reply:

    “The Haggards aren’t bad, particularly Death Talks Shop. Slangy, eccentric, and super fast-paced, reminiscent (to me anyway) of Theodore Roscoe’s two novels for Dodge. Roger Torrey’s 42 Days for Murder is a pretty good pulpish private eye novel. The two John Donavans [one from 1937] are decent fair-play deductive mysteries. The [Vivian] Meik is a Sax Rohmerish adventure mystery with a screwball plot. I haven’t read a lot of the others.”

Curse of Red Shiva

   As part of the ongoing, online project to supplement Bill Deeck’s reference work about lending-library mysteries, Murder at 3c a Day, I’ve just uploaded scans of the covers of those that Hillman-Curl published between 1936 and 1937. Authors included in this grouping include Bram Stoker, Steve Fisher, E. R. Punshon, Sydney Horler and others.

   You may also be interested in reading Hillman-Curl’s “Bill of Rights for Detective Story Readers,” in which they set out the standards they intended their new line of “Clue Club” mysteries to live up to.

Online cover scans for the Phoenix Press mysteries are now complete from 1936 through 1952, when the last of their titles was published.

Coming up next: the crime fiction published by Hillman-Curl between 1936 and 1939. Authors included in this line of lending-library mysteries include Bram Stoker, Steve Fisher, J. S. Fletcher, E. R. Punshon, Roger Torrey and many others. Look for the covers soon. You will read about it here first.