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John Rhode Locked Room Titles


Cecil John Charles Street, MC, OBE (1884 – 1964 – often reported as January 1965), who was known to his colleagues, family and friends as John Street, began his military career as an artillery officer in the British army. During the course of World War I, he became a propagandist for MI7, in which role he held the rank of Major. After the armistice, he alternated between Dublin and London during the Irish War of Independence as Information Officer for Dublin Castle, working closely with Lionel Curtis. He later earned his living as a prolific writer of detective novels.

He produced two long series of novels; one under the name of John Rhode featuring the forensic scientist Dr. Priestley, and another under the name of Miles Burton featuring the investigator Desmond Merrion. Under the name Cecil Waye, Street produced four novels: The Figure of Eight; The End of the Chase; The Prime Minister’s Pencil; and Murder at Monk’s Barn. The Dr. Priestley novels were among the first after Dr Thorndyke to feature scientific detection of crime, such as analysing the mud on a suspect’s shoes. Desmond Merrion is an amateur detective who works with Scotland Yard’s Inspector Arnold.

Critic and author Julian Symons places this author as a prominent member of the “Humdrum” school of detective fiction. “Most of them came late to writing fiction, and few had much talent for it. They had some skill in constructing puzzles, nothing more, and ironically they fulfilled much better than S. S. Van Dine his dictum that the detective story properly belonged in the category of riddles or crossword puzzles. Most of the Humdrums were British, and among the best known of them were Major John Street …”. Symons opinion has not however prevented the Rhode and Burton books becoming much sought after by collectors and many of the early ones can command high prices. Jacques Barzun and Wendell Hertig Taylor in their A Catalogue of Crime offer a different perspective to Symons, praising several of the Rhode books in particular, though they only review a small proportion of the more than 140 titles Street produced. Curt Evans has written the only detailed account of Street’s life and works “I wrote my new book, Masters of the “Humdrum” Mystery: Cecil John Charles Street, Freeman Wills Crofts, Alfred Walter Stewart and the British Detective Novel, 1920–1961 (published by McFarland Press) in part to give a long overdue reappraisal of these “Humdrum” detection writers as accomplished literary artists. Not only did they produce a goodly number of fine fair play puzzles, but their clever tales have more intrinsic interest as social documents and even sometimes as literary novels than they have been credited with having.

Edited from Wikipedia

More on Cecil Street / John Rhode / Miles Burton Wikipedia Gadetection


masters humdrum

Cecil Street (AKA John Rhode & Miles Burton) is one of the “Humdrum” mystery writers, along with Alfred Walter Stewart (JJ Connington)  and Freeman Wills Crofts. This was a title given by critic Julian Symons, but they are not really boring at all. See Masters of the “Humdrum” Mystery: Cecil John Charles Street, Freeman Wills Crofts, Alfred Walter Stewart and the British Detective Novel, 1920-1961 by Curtis J. Evans 


John Rhode Locked Room Novels


Tragedy UnicornTragedy at The Unicorn (1928) 
Author: John Rhode
Detective: Dr. Priestly

Best Review
***

Available only in hardcover editions.

Book

Note: The doctor missed the boat?

Dr. Priestley investigates the murder of a guest at the Unicorn Inn. Six guests were in the hotel, five were amateur yachtsmen and the sixth guest was a doctor. In the morning the doctor was found dead by poison inside a locked room, and each one of the yachtsmen had, in one way or another, a reason to commit the crime.


poison onePoison for One (1934)
Author: John Rhode
Detective: Dr. Priestly

No Reviews
***

Available in paperback and hardcover editions.

Book

Note: Dr. Priestly investigates another locked room poisoning!

When three of his weekend house guests broke their way into the locked study of Sir Gerald Uppingham they found the famous financier dead at his desk. In the room was a faint odour of poison acid and on a table was a tray containing, among other things, a bottle of cough medicine and a wine glass with several drops of poisoned linctus. Inspector Hanslet knew from the beginning that this was going to be a knotty case!


Catch ThiefTo Catch a Thief (1934) 
Author: Miles Burton
Detective: Inspector Arnold & Desmond Merrion

Best Review
****

Available only in rare hardcover editions.

Book

Note: Too much coincidence?

Desmond Merrion has just checked into the Golden Crown Inn during a snowstorm when one of his fellow guests is found dead in a locked room filled with gas. Could it be suicide? It doesn’t seem likely when carbon monoxide is ruled out, and then it is discovered that the Lutterworth emeralds have been stolen the same night and that the dead man once worked in the same house. 


invisible-weaponsInvisible Weapons (1938)
Author: John Rhode
Detective: Dr. Priestly

Best Review
****

Available only in hardcover editions.

Book

Note: Priestly is interested in refrigerators!

Two men are neighbours in a London street. Then one is murdered while visiting relatives in the country. Inspector Waghorn finds ample evidence of the crime, but cannot determine what weapon was employed. A few weeks later, the victim’s neighbour dies of carbon dioxide poisoning in his wine cellar. Hanslet investigates, but the death is considered to be an accident, caused by the escape of sewer gas. Finally, Priestley joins the investigation and the solution soon begins to come together!


fatal descentDrop to His Death
US Title: Fatal Descent
with Carter Dickson AKA: John Dickson Carr

Best Review
****

Out of print: Available only in used paperback or hardcover editions.

Book

Note: Written with the incomparable John Dickson Carr

The automatic elevator stops and the hall porter glances toward the bronze doors. Twenty minutes later, no one has emerged, and the porter decides to investigate. Inside he finds the body of Sir Ernest Tallant – shot through the heart in a sealed elevator!  Two famous mystery authors combine their talents in this baffling case.

Another one from the golden period – could argue for five stars!

More on ‘Drop To His Death


death cardDeath Leaves No Card (1939) 
Author: Miles Burton
Detective: Inspector Arnold & Desmond Merrion

Best Review
****

Available in paperback and hardcover editions.

Book

Note: Death is at the door!

When Death pays a call he generally leaves a card behind . . . even if it sometimes takes a pathologist to find it. But on the morning that he visited the bathroom at Forstal Farm, he did it incognito. It took a man with a crowbar to break down the bathroom door, and there on the floor was Basil Maplewood, naked, with one foot still hanging over the edge of the bath. Basil was only twenty-one, and in the very pink of health, but the post-mortem didn’t help much . . . no violence, no sign of poison. Here is a mystery in a thousand, and one that almost - but not quite - threw dust in the eyes of Inspector Arnold and his colleagues.


cat jumpsThe Cat Jumps (1946) 
Author: Miles Burton
Detective: Inspector Arnold & Desmond Merrion

Best Review
****

Available only in hardcover editions.

Book

Note: The cat’s not talking!

A complete locked house mystery! Someone killed a rich widow who ignored the pleas of her poor relatives, and only her cat, Belisarius, saw the murderer. There’s also the strange matter of a  knife that jabbed a horse in the rear one week, then returned to commit a murder a week later.


harley rhodesDeath in Harley Street (1946) 
Author: John Rhode
Detective: Dr. Priestly

Best Review
****

Available in paperback and hardcover editions.

Book

Note: The man for glands!

Dr. Mawsley, the gland specialist, was the top man in his field. Then Mawsley stepped into a room, while his butler stood outside, and suddenly crashed onto the floor, quite dead. The cause was a fatal dose of strychnine – but how was it administered?


twice DeadTwice Dead (1960) 
Author: John Rhode
Detective: Dr. Priestly

Best Review
****

Available only in hardcover editions.

Book

Note: Ever wanted to attend your own funeral?

Sir Francis Yordale is curious! He wants to find out what his family think of him, so he posts his own obituary in The Times. The results prove disappointing, so he changes his will in favour of his Australian godson, George Pawlett, and his housekeeper, Ethel Shirland. Then he is found dead in his favourite chair, at his country house, Uplands – and this time it is for real!


Complete John Rhode Bibliography


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