Peter Clancy

Created by Lee Thayer
Pseudonym of Emma Redington Lee

“Oh, Mr. Peter, sir!”
— Wiggar exclaims,
as Clancy solves another one.

Dashing, debonair and extremely discreet red-headed private investigator PETER CLANCY specialized in solving the problems of the very rich — for a very big fee. He didn’t even advertise, yet he never seemed to run out of clients among New York City’s elite. He even eventually ventured abroad, travelling as far as Long Island, Canada and the Bermudas to help the movers and shakers with their little murder problems.

Okay, he was pretty much a doofus; a well-bred stick in the mud whose solutions to various crimes ranged from the sublime to, more often, the ridiculous. We’re talking serious Golden Age Great Detective here, American Division perhaps, but about as far removed from the Black Mask school as you can get.

Yet he cracked case after case, 60 of them, starting in 1919 with Thayer’s very first novel, The Mystery of the Thirteenth Floor, published when the author was 45. A late start, perhaps, but the author continued cranking them out, one or two a year, for over forty years.

So we may snort and chuckle, but someone must have been reading them.

When we first meet him, the young ginger was an amateur sleuth, and for a few subsequent books, a police officer, but he (and his creator) seems to have found their niche when he became a private investigator. Continuity be damned!

Ten year into the series, in Dead Man’s Shoes (1929), confirmed bachelor Clancy was joined by his British valet Wiggar, an annoying would-be Watson whose chief duty seemed to be to remind us of the Great Man’s, uh, Greatness.

Still, Clancy’s far less annoying than S.S. Van Dine’s Philo Vance who was just over the horizon, and he occasionally shows some grit — or at least some mildly abrasive substance that might be mistaken for grit — relentlessly pursuing clues and doggedly questioning suspects with little help — or interference — from the police. And despite some of his more outlandish conclusions, Clancy does — to his credit — engage in some actual detective work, including what must have been cutting edge forensics for the time, to reach those conclusions.


Emma Redington Lee was born in Troy, Pa. on April 5, 1874, and was an artist and illustrator as well as a mystery writer. in fact, her paintings were displayed at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, she worked for a while as an interior decorator for New York’s elite, and with Henry W. Thayer, whom she would eventually marry in 1909, she co-founded Decorative Designers, a firm which (in the days before dust jackets) designed books and produced binding designs, interior illustrations and the like for various book publishers.

In 1932, the firm — and the marriage — ended, but the author would go by the name of Lee Thayer for the rest of her life, probably because it was the byline on her detective novels. She passed away in 1973, a few months shy of her hundredth birthday.


  • The Mystery of the Thirteenth Floor (1919)Buy this book
  • The Unlatched Door (1920) Kindle it!
  • That Affair at the Cedars (1921)
  • Q.E.D. (1922)
  • The Sinister Mark (1923)
  • The Key (1924)
  • Poison (1926)
  • Alias Dr. Ely (1927)
  • The Darkest Spot (1928)
  • Dead Men’s Shoes (1929)
  • They Tell No Tales (1930)
  • The Last Shot (1931)
  • Set a Thief (1931)
  • The Glass Knife (1932)
  • The Scrimshaw Millions (1932)
  • Counterfeit (1933) Kindle it!
  • Hell-Gate Tides (1933)
  • The Second Bullet (1934)
  • Dead Storage (1935)
  • Sudden Death (1935) Kindle it!
  • Dark of the Moon (1936)
  • Dead End Street (1936) Kindle it!
  • Last Trump (1937) Kindle it!
  • A Man’s Enemies (1937) Kindle it!
  • Ransom Racket (1938)
  • That Strange Sylvester Affair (1938)
  • Lightning Strikes Twice (1939)
  • Stark Murder (1939)
  • Guilty! (1940)
  • X Marks the Spot (1940)
  • Hallowe’en Homicide (1941)
  • Persons Unknown (1941)
  • Murder Is Out (1942)
  • Murder on Location (1942)
  • Accessory After the Fact (1943)
  • Five Bullets (1944)
  • A Plain Case of Murder (1944)
  • Accident, Manslaughter or Murder? (1945)
  • Hanging’s Too Good (1945)
  • A Hair’s Breadth (1946)
  • The Jaws of Death (1946)
  • Murder Stalks the Circle (1947)
  • Out, Brief Candle! (1948)
  • Pig in a Poke (1948)
  • Evil Root (1949)
  • Too Long Endured (1950)
  • Within the Vault (1950)
  • Do Not Disturb (1951)
  • Guilt Edged (1951)
  • Blood on the Knight (1952)
  • The Prisoner Pleads “Not Guilty” (1953)
  • Dead Reckoning (1954)
  • No Holiday for Death (1954)
  • Who Benefits? (1955)
  • Guilt Is Where You Find It (1957)
  • Still No Answer (1958)
  • Two Ways to Die (1959)
  • Dead on Arrival (1960)
  • And One Cried Murder (1961)
  • Dusty Death (1966)
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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