Sunday, 8 May 2011

Walter Tyrer - The Crime at Fenton Towers - Sexton Blake Library

Walter Tyrer - The Crime at Fenton Towers - Sexton Blake Library - 3rd Series, Number 243  - July 1951

Artwork by Eric Parker.

One additional feature, an unsigned  single-page true crime article `The Black Coupe`.

As I`ve explained before, Walter Tyrer was a successful freelance writer and occasional novelist in the years before World War Two and spent much of the  post-war period writing for Fleetway / Amalgamated (amongst others - see my article The Cowboy and the Detective at ). He contributed cowboy stories to the Western Library series, romances to the Miracle Library and, best of all, crime and detection to the Sexton Blake Library.

This tale of felonious thespians, star-crossed lovers and murderous manouverings is a very worthy effort, combining elements of the locked-room mystery, traditional whodunnit and country house murder.

The house in question is peopled largely by theatrical types, giving Walter plenty of scope to introduce an array of characters he can gently poke fun at. It also gives him scope for scattering red herrings throughout the plot, something he does copiously. I have to admit I thought I`d guessed the ending correctly but no, Sexton would never want me as an assistant, I was completely wrong.

Blake is portrayed as unflappable with a dry sense of humour and a bit of a romantic at heart. His assistant Tinker is portrayed (as usual) as somewhat susceptible to female charms, but is not portrayed as a lightweight, in contrast to his treatment at the hands of other writers.

The more polished turns of phrase that sometimes characterise Walter`s work are less in evidence here, but then it does not suffer from the occasional lapses that his high work-rate brought about.

Thankfully, the proof-reading and editing have been done to a reasonable standard, which is not always the case with `40s and `50s SBLs.

A pedant might find one or two incongruities in the plot, but who wants to be a pedant ? Buy, read and enjoy, that`s my advice.