A London Mystery
Discover the captivating treasures buried in the British Library's archives. Largely inaccessible to the public until now, these enduring classics were written in the golden age of detective fiction.
"A first-rate job"—New York Times
"A classic of the genre"—Guardian
Horniman, Birley and Craine is a highly respected legal firm with clients drawn from the highest in the land. When a deed box in the office is opened to reveal a corpse, the threat of scandal promises to wreak havoc on the firm's reputation—especially as the murder looks like an inside job. The partners and staff of the firm keep a watchful and suspicious eye on their colleagues, as Inspector Hazlerigg sets out to solve the mystery of who Mr. Smallbone was—and why he had to die.
Since its initial publication in 1950, Smallbone Deceased has been lauded as a perfect British mystery as well as a historical fiction bestseller. Written with style, pace, and wit, this is a masterpiece by one of the finest writers of traditional British crime books since the Second World War.
In this ingenious reissue in the British Library Crime Classics series first published in 1950 from Gilbert (1912 2006), Henry Bohun starts work at the London law firm of Horniman, Birley and Craine at an unusually dramatic time. A month before his first day, firm founder Abel Horniman, a stickler for organization, was found dead at his desk, pen in hand. Horniman's son, Bob, who's catching up with correspondence, finds a letter relating to client Marcus Smallbone from another law office that was trying to contact him in connection with a trust. But when the sealed box that was supposed to contain the documents relating to that trust was opened, Smallbone's corpse was found instead. Chief Inspector Hazlerigg, who has worked with a friend of Bohun's, hopes that Bohun will be able to provide him with insider information though his superior warns Hazlerigg not to be "like that mug in the detective story who confides all his best ideas to a friendly sort of character who turns out to be the murderer in Chapter Sixteen." Gilbert expertly combines fairly planted clues and self-referential humor. Well-drawn personalities and plausible twists are additional pluses. This high-quality whodunit deserves a wide readership.