Created by Brian Flynn
Pseudonyms include Charles Wogan
Tall, grey-eyed ANTHONY LOTHERINGTON BATHHURST, son of Irish parents and a former Uppingham schoolboy, was a blandly affable British private detective who appeared in over fifty clever, clue-packed novels by Brian Flynn. They’re all very much in the classic mystery mode, clearly and admittedly influenced farnmore by Doyle and Christie than Hammett and Chandler.
As such they’re full of the usual tropes: country house murders, locked room mysteries, exotic poisons, bumbling constables, jaw-dropping deductions and the like. There’s even a wide-eyed Watson-like narrator, Anthony’s good friend Bill Cunningham, to clue us in on what the GHreat One is doing. And of course there’s the obligatory cop frenemy, Inspector Andrew McMorran, while some of the later books also feature Helen Repton, a rare-for-the-time female member of Scotland Yard.
Are they worth checking out? Well, that depends on how big a fan you are of the classic Golden Age puzzle-type mystery. Flynn certainly knew how to sling the words at the page, and by all accounts there are plenty of fairly presented clues, and the solutions hold together. The books were well-received at the time, and no publisher continues to churn out over fifty mysteries in a series if nobody’s reading them, but…
The author’s verbosity hasn’t aged well. The writing is about as pompous and overblown as you can get, and Bathhurst himself isn’t particularly interesting, so it must have been the plots that regularly drew in the paying customers for over thirty years. But by the sixties the books were definitely relics of another age, and mostly languished in obscurity over fifties years, until Dean Street Press began an ambitious attempt to bring them all back in 2018. The new editions sported spiffy new introductions by über-fan Steve Barge, and some delicious, vaguely art deco-style covers. In the introductions, Barge muses on (and pretty much explains) the reasons Flynn’s books slipped into obscurity — a combination of bad press, bad reviews and bad luck.
Born in 1885 in Leyton, Essex, the author was a Special Constable on the Homefront during World War I, an accountant in government service, a lecturer in Elocution and Speech, and an amateur actor. His sole standalone novel was Tragedy at Trinket (1934), and he wrote three other novels under the pseudonym Charles Wogan. He also wrote a play, , in 1937, the plot of which he recycled for Conspiracy At Angel (1947), a Bathhurst mystery.
- “A classic of its type”
— Nottingham Herald (1927)
- “A very good yarn . . . off the usual lines and most ingeniously contrived”
— Bystander (1927)
- “Straight tripe and savorless. It is doubtful, on the evidence, if any of his others would be different.”
— Jacques Barzun & Wendell Hertig Taylor on The Mystery of the Peacock’s Eye (1971, A Catalog of Crime)
- “Steve Barge, who writes a fine historical and appreciative introduction to this volume discussing Bathurst seems surprised that Brian Flynn, his creator, was never embraced by the Detection Club or the Crime Writers Association, but frankly only a paragraph or so in it is pretty clear why. Flynn deserves his own volume of Bill Pronzini’s alternative classics…”
— Steve (November 2019, Mystery*File)
- “While Flynn was no rival to Christie or any of the other names you’re a lot more familiar with, in my opinion neither does he deserve to be forgotten. There are some scenes in this book, well-described, that will linger in memory for a while, including the prologue, and yes, I’d read another adventure of Mr. Bathurst at any place and time that you say, other than the break of dawn.”
—— Steve (2007, Mystery*File)
- The Billiard-Room Mystery (1927) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- The Case of the Black Twenty-Two (1928 ) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- The Mystery of the Peacock’s Eye (1928) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- The Murders Near Mapleton (1929)
- The Five Red Fingers (1929)
- Invisible Death (1929) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- The Creeping Jenny Mystery (1930)
- 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 (1934)
- The Sussex Cuckoo (1935)
- The Fortescue Candle (1936)
- Fear and Trembling (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)
- They 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 (1948)
- 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)
- In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel
An amazing site, full of well-written (and spoiler-free) reviews of fair play mysteries (mostly) from the Golden Age, by the man currently bringing the Bathurst novels back into print.