Sunday, July 6, 2014

"Scenery Is Delightful, Writing Good, Sleuth Clever, and Criminal Elusive"

Australian author Paul McGuire's involvement in detective fiction lasted for about a decade, after which he unwaveringly turned his attention to world improvement; one reviewer characterized this latter McGuire as "fascinating talker, skilful reconteur, aggressive moralist, and ardent propagandist for the recovery of the 'moral unity of Christendom'." (THE SATURDAY REVIEW, February 14, 1942)

But the earlier Paul McGuire wasn't above murdering people—at least on paper. Like so many Golden Age fictioneers, he sometimes reused characters, one of whom was:
Superintendent Fillinger was created by the Australian writer Paul McGuire and appeared in a number of novels beginning with Three Dead Men (1931). Superintendent Fillinger, who is larger than Nero Wolfe and has an attitude to match, is a policeman in the coastal towns of south west England; with the help of the Chief Constable of Wessex, Major Harslow, he fights crime in those coastal towns. — Jess Nevins, PULP AND ADVENTURE HEROES
MURDER IN BOSTALL.
By Paul McGuire (1903-1978).
Skeffington & Son.
1931. 287 pages.
[a.k.a. THE BLACK ROSE MURDER]
[Review excerpt] . . . The plot isn’t much here. It is the characters of Modstone, a most unusual private investigator—on one occasion he carries a revolver but is “not certain what happened when you pulled the trigger thing”—and Cummings that make the novel enjoyable reading.  . . . — William F. Deeck, MYSTERY*FILE (13 June 2013)
THREE DEAD MEN.
By Paul McGuire (1903-1978).
Brentano's.
1931. 334 pages.
[Full review] Fractionally better than run-of-mine stuff. Scotland Yard and Mr. Bertie Horner, retired merchant, help the rural cops smash a pretty devilish outfit who "accidentally" murder men for pelf. — THE BOOKMAN (September 1932)

MURDER BY THE LAW.
By Paul McGuire (1903-1978).
Skeffington & Son.
1932.  256 pages. 7s. 6d.
[Full review] Mr. McGuire's strong suit is his selection of the weapon used to dispose of an erotic novelist who was about to publish a book of libellously outspoken reminiscences.
Unfortunately the characters in the novel are almost without exception so unpleasant that the reader's interest wanes before the murder is reached.
It is difficult too to believe in the motive for the crime. But for the method he has chosen Mr. McGuire must have full marks. It is simple, subtle and convincing. — Marcus Magill, "Variations On a Criminal Theme," THE BOOKMAN [UK] (November 1932)
[Excerpt] . . . The plot and setting in Law are certainly acceptable but not exceptional. Rather more significant are the characters McGuire sketches for us, and his skillful and evocative use of language, particularly in dialogue.  . . . — Allen J. Hubin, MYSTERY*FILE (28 May 2009)
DEATH FUGUE.
By Paul McGuire (1903-1978).
Skeffington & Son.
1933. 288 pages. 7s. 6d.
[Full review] Caught in a storm on a Devon walking tour, Hugh Thompson finds shelter in an empty but furnished mansion, and an eerie night he spends. Doors lock and unlock themselves, strange music plays, feet are heard shuffling along the corridors, and what appear to be ghosts manifest themselves. To cap all, he finds a warm but rigid corpse seated at the organ with a knife in the back.
Inspector Fillinger is soon on the scene and, aided by a queer author who lives in the vicinity, he proceeds to investigate.
Another body is discovered, the reason why a newly-killed man was held up by rigor mortis is explained, and after the finger of suspicion has hovered over a number of the characters it points directly at the murderer.
"Death Fugue" is an excellent thriller, weakend only by some unnecessary melodrama in the final chapters. — Marcus Magill, "Abominable Deeds," THE BOOKMAN [UK] (November 1933)
THERE SITS DEATH.
By Paul McGuire (1903-1978).
Skeffington & Son.
1933. 256 pages.
MURDER IN HASTE.
By Paul McGuire (1903-1978).
Skeffington & Son.
1934. 288 pages.


DEATH TOLLS THE BELL.
By Paul McGuire (1903-1978).
Coward-McCann.
1933. 336 pages. $2.00
[a.k.a. THE TOWER MYSTERY]
[Full review] American screen star, with troubled mind, is found hanging from bell-rope of English church and Mr. Hupper, the novelist-detective, takes his feet off mantel. - Notable for choice collection of aristocratic wealthy and worthless characters, creepy setting, good dialogue and sleuthing—but marred by a weak ending. - Verdict: So-so. — "The Criminal Record," THE SATURDAY REVIEW (May 13, 1933)
MURDER AT HIGH NOON.
By Paul McGuire (1903-1978).
Crime Club.
1935. 288 pages [UK edition]. $2.00
[a.k.a. DAYLIGHT MURDER]
[Full review] London financial writer found dead in haystack. Local police and Yard engage in deducing-match. - Overabundant financial trimmings slow up action of carefully wrought yarn with surprising conclusion - Verdict: Middlin'. — "The Criminal Record," THE SATURDAY REVIEW (October 19, 1935)
 7.30 VICTORIA.
By Paul McGuire (1903-1978).
Skeffington.
1935. 288 pages.

BORN TO BE HANGED.
By Paul McGuire (1903-1978).
1935.
PROLOGUE TO THE GALLOWS.
By Paul McGuire (1903-1978).
1936.

THREEPENCE TO MARBLE ARCH.
By Paul McGuire (1903-1978).
1936.
CRY ALOUD FOR MURDER.
By Paul McGuire (1903-1978).
Heinemann.
1937. 284 pages.

W1.
By Paul McGuire (1903-1978).
Heinemann.
1937. 274 pages.

A FUNERAL IN EDEN.
By Paul McGuire (1903-1978).
Morrow.
1938. $2.00
[a.k.a. BURIAL SERVICE]
[Full review] Unwanted intruder in idyllic tropic isle dies violently. White "Sultan" unravels this and another murder. - Veers toward talkiness at times but scenery is delightful, writing good, sleuth clever, and criminal elusive. - Verdict: Better grade. — "The Criminal Record," THE SATURDAY REVIEW (August 20, 1938)
ENTER THREE WITCHES.
By Paul McGuire (1903-1978).
Morrow.
1940. 212 pages. $2.00
[a.k.a. THE SPANISH STEPS]
[Full review] Writer slain in Spain turns up alive at Italian villa; strange events culminate in murder. English journalist investigates. - Atmosphere and writing pretty nearly perfect. Sleuthing incidental, but romance, thrills, and mystery blend to queen's taste. - Verdict: Bravissimo! — "The Criminal Record," THE SATURDAY REVIEW (February 24, 1940)
Resources:
- Background information about McGuire is HERE and HERE.

Category: Detective fiction

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