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Vincent Cornier Locked Room Titles

Little is known of Vincent Cornier (1898-1978), he does not even have a English Wikipedia page, but we do know that he was a British author, born in Yorkshire, of French descent, who wrote mainly for British periodicals before WWII. Cornier started writing at age 14 and participated in the First World War in the Royal Flying Corps. On demobilization he became a journalist and travelled widely in Europe and East.

In 1933, Cornier created the detective Barnabas Hildreth, an agent of British intelligence, nicknamed ‘The Black Monk’, who engages in police investigations, usually with his friend, the journalist, Geoffrey Ingram. However, it wasn’t until Cornier was discovered by Frederick Dannay – half of the Ellery Queen partnership – that his stories reached a wider audience. The Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine reprinted many of his earlier stories and eventually encouraged him to write several more during the late 40’s and early 50’s. Many critics, including Dannay have suggested that Cornier’s Barnabas Hildreth stories are “one of the great series of modern detective stories”, almost forgotten gems of the Golden Age which have only recently been rereleased in a new edition of ‘Duel of Shadows’. 

Source: Edited from French Wikipedia Article

Though ‘Duel of Shadows’ only contains three locked room titles, the other eight stories are great mystery reads, making this volume well worth the price.

Included in ‘Duel of Shadows’:

The Stone Ear
The Brother of Heaven
The Silver Quarrel
The Throat of Green Jasper
The Duel of Shadows
The Catastrophe in Clay
The Mantle That Laughed
The Tabasheeran Pearls
The Gilt Lily
The Monster
Oh Time, In Your Flight

Vincent Cornier Locked Room Short Stories

Big lizard LR mysteriesThe Flying Hat (1929)
Detective: Sir Richard Brantingham
Collection: The Black Lizard Big Book of Locked Room Mysteries

Locked Room Review / Mike Grost

Available in paperback and ebook editions.

Book  eBook

Note: A deadly hat & no footprints in the snow!

The story of a vicious, but non-fatal attack, on a poor young lover inside the fenced gardens of Bellington Square, across the street from the servants entrance where the object of his romantic intentions resides. A police constable witnesses the attack, but his evidence only confounds the investigation, and despite a fresh covering of snow, the lack of footprints makes the mystery seem quite impossible. It is finally left to Sir Richard Brantyngham, criminologist extraordinaire, to explain this mysterious and often confusing case, which takes a sharp turn to the pulp side when the victim’s hat later falls out of the sky and ejects “a long rain of golden disks” on the pavement.

britannia eve 1932The Million Water (1932)
Detective: None
Collection: Britannia & Eve, August 1932

No Review

Available only in Britannia & Eve, August 1932 (June 1932 cover shown)

Not currently available

Note: Three old men & the sea?

Three men struggle to survive in an open boat in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. The solution turns on a piece of geographical trivia.

pearsons_uk_193201Dust of Lions (1933)
Detective: Professor Wanless
Collection: Pearson’s Magazine, April 1933

No Review

Available in Pearson’s Magazine, April 1933 (January 1933 cover shown)

Not Currently Available

Note: Want a light?

Involves a series of spontaneous combustions of various people and animals at locations around the world. Great solution!

storyteller_193609The Space-Time Masterpiece (1936)
Detective: Barnabas Hildreth
Collection: The Storyteller, April 1936

No Review

Available only in The Storyteller, April 1936 (September 1936 cover shown)

Not currently available

Note: The Missing Hildreth!

A novelette, unfortunately deemed to be too long for ‘Duel of Shadows’.  The impossible death is the result of a fall from a horse which is brought down by an apparently invisible entity!

Art ImpossibleThe Courtyard of The Fly (1937)
Detective: Superintendent Hamilton
Collection: Pearson’s Magazine, July 1937; Murder Impossible, Edited by Adrian & Robert Adey

Best Review

Available only in hardcover edition.


Note: A annoying pest?

A large black and orange fly, nearly the size of a mouse, entered and exited an open workshop window, just as Henry Labordien, master jeweller, examined a famous rope of pearls owned by a Russian Grand Duchess. A moment later it returned, and this time it buzzed off with the pearls, before Labordien could save his reputation from complete ruin! Still, his assistant might have recovered the pearls, if he had not been bitten by this horrid monster!

Duel ShadowsThe Duel of Shadows (1947)
AKA: The Shot That Waited; The Mystery of The Westmacott Bullet
Detective: Barnabas Hildreth
Collection: EQMM, Sept. 1947, The Duel of Shadows

Best Review   Best Review 2

Available only in paperback and hardcover editions. Best price on


Note: Interesting ballistics report?

Henry Westmacott of Derbyshire has just sat down in his favourite chair when he is suddenly shot, but no one is in the room or in his line of sight. The bullet, which ricochets into his wireless set, is also most unusual – it look like a miniature copy of Saturn! Barnabas Hildreth soon discovers that it was actually fired 222 years, 2 months, 1 week, 5 days, 12 hours, and 47 minutes before Mr. Westmacott sat down to enjoy a radio concert. No time travel is involved, and the solution to the mystery, while rather bizarre, is actually plausible.

Duel ShadowsThe Brother of Heaven
Detective: Barnabas Hildreth
Collection: EQMM Dec. 1948; The Duel of Shadows

Best Review  Best Review 2

Available only in paperback and hardcover editions. Best price on


Note: The Return of Fu Manchu?

A Tong enforcer escapes the opulent courts of Mandarin China, only to be found dead in a decrepit warehouse on the Thames. He has been impossibly stabbed in the back, with only his footprints on the muddy floor, and a distinct smile on his face. Barnabas Hildreth must unravel this case of theft and flight, then identify a weapon straight out of a Fu Manchu episode. 

Duel ShadowsThe Monster (1951)
Detective: Barnabas Hildreth
Collection: EQMM February 1951;The Duel of Shadows

Best Review  Best Review 2

Available only in paperback and hardcover editions. Best price on


Note: The Problem of ‘The Thing’!

Barnabas Hildreth calls it ‘A hideous thing!’, and it has long terrorized and murdered the people of Westmorland heath. Now it has come under the close scrutiny of the authorities, but due to ‘The Thing’s’ very nature, the law cannot exercise the appropriate punishment. A twisted tale of family secrets that allow a sane, self-confessed, murderer to get his death sentence nullified! It is even a reasonably plausible solution.

An Incomplete Cornier Bibliography

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