Created by B.G. Quin
A bit late to the party, perhaps, but the very Holmesian detective THE HONORABLE JAMES CLARKSON-PARRY first showed up in The Death Box (1929), already almost fully formed. It didn’t take him long to nab a Watson to narrate his adventures, and suffice it to say that he had the Holmes-sized ego almost from the start. His lack of humility even extended to the front cover, where he was proudly billed as “one of the Astutest Detectives of Modern Fiction.”
Wow. Who doesn’t love an “astute” detective?
Not that he was a complete carbon copy of Holmes–Clarkson-Harry was a decorated war hero (hence the “Honorable” prefix to his monicker), as was his trusty companion Harvey, a former comrade from the Western Front, honorable in deed if not title), and their service in the Great War colours the series.
It’s all very British and military and stiff upper lip, and the two old soldiers, the showboat brainiac detective and his humble, occasionally befuddled, but always brave and loyal companion/narrator, make for a good team, in five novels by Basil Godfrey Quin.
Quin himself was a soldier, a decorated veteran of World War I, and it’s been suggested by Robin S. James, among others, that “Clarkson-Parry was the man (Quin) would have liked to be, but Harvey was the man he thought he was.” After the war Quin became the mathematics master at Rutherford College for Boys, in Newcastle, and later the senior mathematics master, a post he would hold until retirement. But in his spare time, he wrote.
- The Death Box (1929) | Buy this book
- The Mystery Of The Black Gate (1930; reprinted in 1933, Mystery League Magazine #4)
- The Murder Rehearsal 1931 (US 1932)
- Mistigris (1932)
- The Phantom Murderer (1932)
- In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel
The Puzzle Doctor, the man behind the current reprints featuring Anthony Bathurst, reviews The Death Box.