Thursday, July 3, 2014

"Dogmatic Detectival Pronouncements, Half-wrong and Half-right"

MR. PEPPER, INVESTIGATOR.
By Basil Thomson (1861-1939).
J. Castle.
1925. 311 pages.
Collection: 15 stories.
For sale HERE.
Contents:
1. "I Meet Mr. Pepper"
2. "The Burglary in Middlesex Street"
3. "The Hanover Court Murder"
4. "The Disappearance of Accepted Frewen"
5. "The House in Which Everybody Died"
6. "Blackmailers"
7. "Manning's Funeral"
8. "Mrs. Stoot and Her Ear-rings"
9. "Dust"
10. "The Wedding Present"
11. "The Vanishing of Mrs. Fraser" [online HERE]
12. "How I Stole a Child"
13. "The Scent of Flowers"
14. "My Chief is Threatened"
15. "How England Lost Mr. Pepper"
[NOTE: Being post-1922, this book is not in the public domain in the United States.]
Basil Thomson, our author, had a varied—and somewhat checkered—career as "a British intelligence officer, police officer, prison governor, colonial administrator, and writer" (Wikipedia); he even spent some time in prison (see the Wikipedia article for all the details). His time spent as Head of the C.I.D. at Scotland Yard might have encouraged him to turn to detective fiction, with generally good results.

On the GAD Wiki, Mike Grost discusses one of Thomson's Mr. Pepper stories, "The Vanishing of Mrs. Fraser":
It is to be found in Dorothy L. Sayers' second omnibus, where I have finally read it, and a delightful story it is. There is a good deal of well done Parisian background, and the detection is vivid. The solution involves science, as in the realist tradition.  . . . Thomson's story is also an early burlesque of detective fiction. Mr. Pepper's dogmatic detectival pronouncements, half-wrong and half-right, and their collision with the ultimate realities of the case, reminded me more that a little bit of Jack Ritchie's 1970's Henry Turnbuckle stories. The comic tone nearly exactly matches that of Ritchie.  . . . — Mike Grost, GAD Wiki ("Basil Thomson")
Some other Thomson titles:

THE STORY OF DARTMOOR PRISON [nonfiction].
By Sir Basil Thomson (1861-1939).
William Heinemann.
1907. 280 pages.
Online HERE.

MY EXPERIENCES AT SCOTLAND YARD [nonfiction].
By Sir Basil Thomson (1861-1939).
Doubleday, Page & Co.
1923. 359 pages. $2.50
[Excerpt] . . . Sir Basil has made a notably interesting book about crime and criminals; it is in turns exciting and amusing.  . . . — "The New Books," THE OUTLOOK (February 28, 1923; go to page 412, left middle)
[Excerpt] . . . Sir Basil's recollections cover eight years (1913-1921) in office as chief of the Criminal Investigation Bureau; and together with chapters on military spies, royal pretenders, and unusual criminals caught up in the meshes of his organization, offer an account of Rasputin's death on "evidence as to what actually happened".  . . . — "Recent Books in Brief Review," THE BOOKMAN (June 1923)
P. C. RICHARDSON'S FIRST CASE.
By Sir Basil Thomson (1861-1939).
Crime Club.
1933. 278 pages. $2.00
London bobby sees elderly miser "accidentally" killed; finds his wife murdered in miser's antique shop. - Author formerly in charge C.I.D. shows how the Yard really works; includes best quality London atmosphere. - Verdict: Very good. — "The Criminal Record," THE SATURDAY REVIEW (June 17, 1933)
RICHARDSON'S SECOND CASE.
By Sir Basil Thomson (1861-1939).
Crime Club.
1933. [?] pages. $2.00
[a.k.a. RICHARDSON SCORES AGAIN]
Murder in London suburb. Nice young Detective Serg't Richardson does a thorough job. - Gets coin out of coincidences. Readable yarn with interesting details of Scotland Yard and no brain strain. - Verdict: Pleasant. — "The Criminal Record," THE SATURDAY REVIEW (February 24, 1934)
THE CASE OF NAOMI CLYNES.
By Sir Basil Thomson (1861-1939).
Doubleday, Doran.
1934. 394 pages. $2.00
[a.k.a. INSPECTOR RICHARDSON, C.I.D.]
Apparent suicide of young writer turns into murder when Inspector Richardson of Scotland Yard takes over. - Straight detecting with few literary frills. Story moves at rapid pace through London and parts of France. - Verdict: Good stuff. — "The Criminal Record," THE SATURDAY REVIEW (September 29, 1934)
THE CASE OF THE DEAD DIPLOMAT.
By Sir Basil Thomson (1861-1939).
Crime Club.
1935. 306 pages. $2.00
[a.k.a. RICHARDSON GOES ABROAD]
THE STORY OF SCOTLAND YARD [nonfiction].
By Sir Basil Thomson (1861-1939).
Doubleday, Doran.
1936. 323 pages. $2.65
Long, fully illustrated, thoroughly documented story of police and detectives in England from Charles II to now. - Large number of actual cases described plus insight into workings of Yard gives book fascination of fiction. - Verdict: For connoisseurs. — "The Criminal Record," THE SATURDAY REVIEW (June 27, 1936)
WHO KILLED STELLA POMEROY?
By Sir Basil Thomson (1861-1939).
Crime Club.
1936. 271 pages. $2.00
[a.k.a. DEATH IN THE BATHROOM]
Philandering young wife found dead in bathtub. Looks bad for hubby till Supt. Richardson produces proper murderer. - Apparently an English fictional effort based on recognizable cause celèbre—and not too well done at that. — "The Criminal Record," THE SATURDAY REVIEW (August 8, 1936)
THE MYSTERY OF THE FRENCH MILLINER.
By Sir Basil Thomson (1861-1939).
Crime Club.
1937. 275 pages. $2.00
[a.k.a. MILLINER'S HAT MYSTERY]
Murder in England causes Insp. Vincent and Goron of Sûreté much cis- and trans-Channel anguish before solution. - Great amount of painstaking sleuthing, not much action, and penetrating commentary on processes of Justice in France and England. - Verdict: Bit stodgy. — "The Criminal Record," THE SATURDAY REVIEW (May 29, 1937)
WHEN THIEVES FALL OUT.
By Sir Basil Thomson (1861-1939).
Crime Club.
1937. 270 pages. $2.00
[a.k.a. A MURDER ARRANGED]
Girl's murder in England linked with gang of crooks in France and solved by Insp. Dallas and Chief Richardson. - Alert reader will promptly spot killer but transparent plot is enlivened by fantastic activities of Gallic gang. - Verdict: Pedestrian. — "The Criminal Record," THE SATURDAY REVIEW (November 27, 1937)

Category: Detective fiction

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