Brian Flynn

So, you may well have come to this page after reading some – or hopefully all – of the recent reprints of Brian Flynn’s first ten novels. You may have come to this page after clicking on the random picture on the right hand side of my blog. Well, either way, let me tell you a little about Brian Flynn.

Flynn wrote 54 mystery novels, almost all of which feature his sleuth Anthony Lotherington Bathurst – the only exception is Tragedy at Trinket (which features Bathurst’s nephew). 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 there are plans that 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…

For a full cover gallery (i.e. all of the covers that I have discovered) click here.

The Anthony Bathurst Mysteries

Identical murders miles apart leads Bathurst on a treasure hunt for the mysterious Black Twenty-Two.

Death in a dentist’s chair and a blackmailed European Prince lead to Bathurst seeking the truth about the Westhampton Hunt Ball. Voted Reprint of the Year 2019.

Murderous messages hidden inside Christmas crackers are found on both the bodies of both Sir Eustace Vernon  and his dead butler.

A husband and wife own rival horses at the Epsom Derby, but when it is discovered the owner of the winning horse has been murdered – thus disqualifying the winner – Bathurst steps in to sort things out.

An SOS sends Bathurst north to Swallowcliffe Hall, only to find it under siege from ex-Russian revolutionaries. But as they finally break into the house, death strikes from an unexpected direction.

“She steals only one.” Master burglar Creeping Jenny is on the prowl but when her latest theft turns lethal, only Anthony Bathurst can track down the murderer. But in his absence, will his friend Peter Daventry step into the breach?

When a stranger is strangled on the top deck of a bus – with nobody else on the same deck – Bathurst finds himself investigating an impossible murder. Something smells very fishy…

Five men draw lots to commit a murder that they all deem a necessary evil. But with the identity of the murderer a secret even to the rest of the group, can Bathurst find the killer?

A homage to Sherlock Holmes, Bathurst finds himself up against a murderer who can kill without trace and a cryptic treasure hunt. It seems only one of the great detective’s cases can unlock the mystery.

A brutal murder seems set to send Captain Frant to the gallows, so his family enlist Bathurst to prove his innocence. But a second killing turns everything upside down…

Is a serial killer stalking the streets of Chelmersley? Someone would like the police to think so, but when there seems to be a link between the victims, it seems more like a vendetta than a killing spree…

A missing codebreaker is found under a tree in a park sporting wounds as if he has been attacked by a wild beast. What is the Spiked Lion? And how is it that before savaging its victim, it administered a fatal dose of cyanide?

Bathurst finds himself in Antwerp searching for a missing couple and trying to solve the murder of a British policeman, while trying to thwart the sinister League of Matthias.

Another tale inspired by Holmes, with shades of The Speckled Band, The Hound Of The Baskervilles and more. With a young woman’s sanity at risk on the eve of her marriage – her brother disappeared the day before his own ceremony – Bathurst must track down a sadistic killer.

  • The Case Of The Purple Calf aka The Ladder Of Death (1934)

Three mysterious deaths – young women seemingly dying in three car crashes, weeks apart. But each of them occurs when a travelling funfair is in time…

Bathurst is summoned to the home of a seller of antiquities – six people are bidding for an ancient Stuart treasure. But when the treasure disappears and the seller lies dead on his lawn – from tetanus poisoning – why will no one admit who bought the treasure?

The death of the Home Secretary, shot in a hotel room, and the murder of an actress, poisoned on stage, are somehow linked. But can Bathurst find that link and unmask a murderer?

When an industrial chemist with something to sell and his son disappear on the same day, Bathurst turns to the remaining son – but is he a suspect or is he in danger?

Merivale is on trial for murdering his wife – but did he do it in his sleep, meaning he is innocent of any crime or is he a cold-blooded murderer? MacMorran enlists Bathurst to prove the second option, but Anthony isn’t convinced…

Six friends gather and tell ghost stories, the most terrifying involving a chimera that killed three men without leaving a mark except for a red discolouration behind their ears. Walking home, one of them never makes it back. He is found frozen to death on Cromarton Moor a week later… with a strange red mark behind his ear…

Robert Forsyth, aged 73, had peacefully retired to the village of Upchalke, only to be brutally murdered with a gaping wound to his chest and a heavy blow to the face. Who could have killed the old man? Why was a broken ebony statue of a stag found near his body? And how had his teeth, long since removed, apparently grown back?

  • Black Edged (1939)
  • The Case Of The Faithful Heart (1939)
  • The Case Of The Painted Ladies (1940)
  • They Never Came Back (1940)
  • Such Bright Disguises (1941)

Dorothy Grant was deeply, passionately in love with Laurence Weston. Unfortunately, she was married to Hubert Grant, a man whose jealousy was growing stronger by the day. Tensions begin to rise – can Anthony Bathurst prevent a tragedy from occurring? Not this time…

Is a maniac stalking the streets of Mallett? Three very different murder weapons – a burning coal, poisoned fish and drowning in a water barrel – seem to indicate it, but, as ever, Bathurst has other ideas.

Bathurst’s recuperation in St Mead is disrupted when a dead body is found in a nearby field. Nobody knows who it is, but for some reason, the killer seems to have removed the victim’s moustache…

A misunderstanding about a cat sets a gang of criminals after Richard Langley. Once he disappears, Bathurst takes the case, but can he thwart the villains’ plans?

When Justice Flagon is killed by a poisoned dart – as in the English pub game version – in the middle of a horse race, and another judge is killed at his funeral, Bathurst and MacMorran find themselves in a race to stop the killer claiming a third victim.

Sir John Wynward’s heart attack might have been considered natural causes, were his chauffeur and his solicitor not murdered soon after his death. Mr Levi wants his diamond – but who is Mr Levi? And what diamond?

When Dr Baird returned from seeing his patient, there was no apparent reason for him to leave the train at an earlier stop. But something caused him to – and perhaps it was that same something that caused him to end up naked, hanging from a light fixture in a church porch…

Peter Oliver worked in Delaney’s Bank – until the day that he didn’t turn up. His girlfriend, Stella was concerned, and when Anthony Bathurst came into the restaurant where she worked, it led to him finding Peter’s body. All signs point to suicide – apart from a misplaced bath-plug…

After the New Year Dance, Barbara Marsden vanished without trace. When her distinctive yellow dress reappears, being worn by another girl, eyebrows are raised. But when that girl disappears as well…

When Donald Finney’s offer of work leads to his death, three questions need to answered. Why was his body discoloured? Why did he have a note for a local policeman? And why was there cooked bacon rind in his belly button?

Lady Blanchflower and her friend Mrs Whitburn were in an odd mood when dining with four friends but when both are found dead, Bathurst has to work out who was the primary victim – and why a wig was found under one of the bodies.

Bathurst is summoned to protect Dick Lovelace of Loveridge, after an overheard conversation in a cinema raises alarm bells. Unsurprisingly, he arrives too late but why were Lovelace’s last words “innocent” and “teaspoon”? And what are the mysterious four rings?

A serial killer is stalking England, striking it seems without rhyme or reason, and without leaving any clues, apart from a bizarre calling card. How can Bathurst trap a killer who kills without a pattern?

Victor Markham’s journey home from his club is never made, as he was somehow strangled in the back of his taxi. Bathurst is at something of a loss – what exactly has a swimming team consisting entirely of vicars have to do with murder? And what are the “Feet of Death”?

Ralph Slavin left the booksellers where he worked for a meeting at Wootton Magna, a meeting that could have made him a lot of money. Needless to say, he never arrived. When he is found “shot through the brain”, the question arises as to what exactly he had to sell and where has it gone?

Ten years after Barbara Cannon’s father “shot himself” in his study,  Barbara meets a mysterious stranger who entrusts her with a message and then promptly vanishes. Barbara is unsure who to trust – especially that overly charming man who claims to be trying to help…

Someone is violating all of the triple piscinae in England, and to top it off, a dead body is left at the last one. But who is the victim? Why did someone leave a toy lamb in the piscina? And what the hell is a piscina anyway?

Toby Winnington returns from Kenya looking for a job, but the post he acquires of librarian-cum-bodyguard is an odd one. But when a dead body turns up, he turns to his cousin Helen Repton for help. And she turns to Anthony Bathurst…

Marion Priest, on holiday with her husband Julian, leaves the hotel to post a letter and promptly evaporates into thin air. When her body appears, a blackmail note is found in her pocket. But what secrets did she have to be blackmailed over?

Outside of the village of St Mallow, the body of Clive Pothecary is found in the front seat with the word BOUSTRAPA carved into his forehead. And his paramour Juliet has vanished as well…

After moving into a new house, Humphrey Branston’s peace of mind is shattered when he is lured away from the house so it can be ransacked. No rational reason can be found for it, but when Humphrey moves again, and the same thing happens… well, guess who’s job it is to sort things out.

Non-Series

The prestigious school of Trinket is obsessed with winning a national cricket tournament for the first time in years, but the death of a teacher throws everything into disarray.

Writing As Charles Wogan

It was bad enough that Sebastian Stole was sitting at Piers Deverson’s favourite table in his club, but when his favourite waiter is missing, the pair discover that he has been murdered. So Stole decides to buy the victim’s house…

The night time at Warden Hall is being disturbed the disappearing and reappearing of Gordon Pascoe’s secretary, Ellsworth Spencer, despite all of the doors being locked. When Spencer vanishes for the last time, enter Sebastian Stole…

Sebastian Stole is in the congregation when  a chorister collapses, poisoned by cyanide. How does this relate to the recent assault on the vicar? Or the airplanes flying over the village at night? It will take a trip to Antwerp to discover the truth.

* 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 at least one source names 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.