You may have reached this page by looking down the list of Golden Age bibliographies, or clicking on the image on the right, and thinking, with good reason, who the flippity-flip is Brian Flynn and why is he sitting in a list containing such luminaries as Agatha Christie, John Dickson Carr and John Rhode. Well, Brian Flynn is an author that I’ve been championing for a while now and I’m determined to raise awareness of this long-lost author of classic crime fiction.
Flynn wrote 54 mystery novels, almost all of which feature his sleuth Anthony Lotherington Bathurst – the only exception is Tragedy at Trinket. Most also feature Inspector Andrew McMorran and some of the later books also include Helen Repton, a reasonably rare occurrence in books at that time, namely a female member of Scotland Yard. He also wrote a play, Blue Murder, in 1937, the plot of which was used ten years later for Conspiracy At Angel. In addition to the 54 books written under his own name, he also wrote three novels under the pseudonym Charles Wogan. It is unclear why Flynn chose to take a break from Bathurst – the first two books appeared in 1947 and 1948, the latter year being a rarity in that no Bathurst book appeared. Following the third Wogan title in 1950, Flynn concentrated on Bathurst once more.
Flynn is not a cheap author to find and a large number of the titles seem to have no presence at all in the online second hand bookstores. The Sharp Quillet and Exit Sir John (both 1947) are the most readily available, often, oddly, with dust jacket intact. They’re good reads, not his best work, but solidly entertaining. The first six or so have copies out there, possibly as they were, I think, released in the US as well, not something I believe is true of all of his titles. Also some of the later titles have cropped up more than once in my searches. My current tally is 27 books out of 54 and there aren’t many his other titles that I’ve seen for sale, even at unaffordable prices. My copy of Conspiracy At Angel states that Fear and Trembling sold 56,000 copies (which might be publisher hyperbole) so there might be another 55,999 copies out there somewhere…
However, since October 2019, the first ten Flynn titles are available from Dean Street Press in paperback and ebook form, and hopefully more will follow.
His finest work is generally considered to be The Mystery Of The Peacock’s Eye (well, by the few of us who’ve read it) but I think Tread Softly, the tale of a man who may or may not have murdered his wife as he slept under the influence of a nightmare, pips it.
Below is the definitive bibliography of Flynn’s work. The order is based on publication date – the original source for this was the gadetection page, but for books published in the same year, this was often incorrect. As such, I have used the information provided by Flynn’s agent, along with original catalogue references to provide a correct order. This is important as Flynn does often reference Bathurst’s previous cases.
Note that the titles in italics are books that I own and will be reviewing in the future. As for the rest, if you happen to have them collecting dust on your shelf, do get in touch…
The Anthony Bathurst Mysteries
- The Billiard-Room Mystery (1927)
- The Case Of The Black Twenty-Two (1928)
- The Mystery Of The Peacock’s Eye (1928)
- The Murders Near Mapleton (1929)
- The Five Red Fingers (1929)*
- Invisible Death (1929)*
- The Creeping Jenny Mystery aka The Crime At The Crossways (1929)
- Murder En Route (1930)
- The Orange Axe (1931)
- The Triple Bite (1931)
- The Padded Door (1932)
- The Edge Of Terror (1932)
- The Spiked Lion (1933)
- The League Of Matthias (1934)
- The Horn (1934)
- The Case Of The Purple Calf aka The Ladder Of Death (1934)
- The Sussex Cuckoo (1935)
- The Fortescue Candle (1936)
- Fear And Trembling aka The Somerset Murder (1936)
- Tread Softly (1937)
- Cold Evil (1938)
- The Ebony Stag (1938)
- Black Edged (1939)
- The Case Of The Faithful Heart (1939)
- The Case Of The Painted Ladies (1940)
- The Never Came Back (1940)
- Such Bright Disguises (1941)
- Glittering Prizes (1942)
- Reverse The Charges (1943)
- The Grim Maiden (1944)
- The Case Of Elymas The Sorcerer (1945)
- Conspiracy At Angel (1947)
- The Sharp Quillet (1947)
- Exit Sir John (1947)
- The Swinging Death (1949)
- Men For Pieces (1949)
- Black Agent (1950)
- Where There Was Smoke (1951)
- And Cauldron Bubble (1951)
- The Ring Of Innocent (1952)
- The Seventh Sign (1952)
- The Running Nun (1952)
- Out Of The Dusk (1953)
- The Feet Of Death (1954)
- The Doll’s Done Dancing (1954)
- The Shaking Spear (1955)
- The Mirador Collection (1955)
- The Toy Lamb (1956)
- The Dice Are Dark (1956)
- The Hands Of Justice (1957)
- The Wife Who Disappeared (1957)
- The Nine Cuts (1958)
- The Saints Are Sinister (1958)
- Tragedy At Trinket (1934)**
* Note: there is some confusion as to the order of these two titles. Invisible Death is the last book published by John Hamilton, and The Five Red Fingers the first from John Long. Despite this, Invisible Death occurs after The Five Red Fingers, as there is a direct reference to the events in The Five Red Fingers in Invisible Death. So publication date matches the events in the books, despite switching back and forth between publishers.
** Note some sources name this as Tragedy At Trinket Nelson, but this is incorrect. Nelson is the publisher of the book. It’s just Tragedy At Trinket.
And a plea. If you have any works of detective fiction by Brian Flynn that are unreviewed and unitalicised on the list – beware of the Brian Flynn who seems to be a self-help guru, the footballer Brian Flynn, the Brian Flynn who wrote a book on the toy culture in Tokyo and the Brian Flynn who wrote a text on the Commodore Amiga computer – then do get in touch. I’m more than willing to discuss a fair price for them.