Monday, June 13, 2016

Mystery Monday: A Master of Humdrum Mystery

Mystery Monday: Cecil John Charles Street

I continue to look for detective and crime novels written in the 1930s and 1940s. I have stumbled on a wonderful blog called The Passting Tramp that focuses on mystery writers from that era, discovering that there are more authors from that time period than Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett.

My most recent find is Cecil John Charles Street. Born in 1884 on Gibraltar where his father was serving, Street followed his father’s footsteps and went into the military. He served in WWI and the Irish War of Independence, and ultimately mustered out as a Major. Married twice, he had one daughter with his first wife. He was awarded the military cross as well as the OBE (Order of the British Empire) – some say it was for the prolific number of books he wrote.

He published an estimated 140 novels under six pseudonyms. (I cannot imagine! It’s all I can do to produce a full manuscript in 8-9 months!) Under the name John Rhode, he wrote a series of more than fifty books featuring forensic scientist Dr. Priestly. A second long series (more than 40 books) was written under the name of Miles Burton.

Street was often referred to as one of the Masters of Humdrum Mystery, a derogatory term coined by critic and author Julian Symons. (However, perhaps Street has the last laugh as his books are highly collectable, and commanding significant prices.) His claim to fame is his ingenious ways of “bumping off” the victims in his stories. Who knew there were that many ways to kill someone?

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