E. C. Bentley

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Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875 – 1956) was a popular English novelist and humorist of the early twentieth century, and the inventor of the clerihew, an irregular form of humorous verse on biographical topics. One of the best known is this (1905):

Sir Christopher Wren
Said, “I am going to dine with some men.
If anyone calls
Say I am designing St. Paul’s.”

Bentley was born in London and educated at St Paul’s School and Merton College, Oxford. His father, John Edmund Bentley, was professionally a civil servant but was also a rugby union international having played in the first ever international match for England against Scotland in 1871. Bentley worked as a journalist on several newspapers, including the Daily Telegraph. He also worked for the imperialist weekly called The Outlook during the editorship of James Louis Garvin. His first published collection of poetry, titled Biography for Beginners (1905), popularized the clerihew form; it was followed by two other collections, More Biography (1929) and Baseless Biography (1939). His detective novel, Trent’s Last Case (1913), was much praised, numbering Dorothy L. Sayers among its admirers, and with its labyrinthine and mystifying plotting can be seen as the first truly modern mystery. It was adapted as a film in 1920, 1929, and 1952. The success of the work inspired him, after 23 years, to write a sequel, Trent’s Own Case (1936). There was also a book of Trent short stories, Trent Intervenes.

From 1936 until 1949 Bentley was president of the Detection Club. He contributed to two crime stories for the club’s radio serials broadcast in 1930 and 1931, which were published in 1983 as The Scoop and Behind The Screen. In 1950 he contributed the introduction to a Constable & Co omnibus edition of Damon Runyon’s “stories of the bandits of Broadway”, which was republished by Penguin Books in 1990 as ‘On Broadway’.

He died in 1956 in London at the age of 80. His son Nicolas Bentley was a famous illustrator.

G. K. Chesterton dedicated his popular detective novel on anarchist terrorism, ‘The Man Who Was Thursday’, to Edmund Clerihew Bentley, a schoolfriend.

Edited from Wikipedia

E. C Bentley Gadetection

Philip Trent Novels

trent's LastTrent’s Last Case (1913)
AKA: The Woman In Black

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Note: “One of the three best detective stories ever written.” – Agatha Christie

On Wall Street, the mere mention of the name Sigsbee Manderson is enough to send a stock soaring – or bring it tumbling back to earth. Feared but not loved, Manderson has no one to mourn him when the gardener at his British country estate finds him facedown in the dirt, a bullet buried in his brain. There are bruises on his wrist and blood on his clothes, but no clue that will lead the police to the murderer. It will take an amateur to – inadvertently – show them the way.

Cheerful, charming, and always eager for a mystery, portrait artist and gentleman sleuth Philip Trent leaps into the Manderson affair with all the passion of the autodidact. Simply by reading the newspapers, he discovers overlooked details of the crime. Not all of his reasoning is sound, and his romantic interests are suspect, to say the least, but Trent’s dedication to the art of detection soon uncovers what no one expected him to find: the truth.

Delightfully irreverent yet ingeniously plotted, Trent’s Last Case is widely regarded as a masterwork of the mystery genre.

More on Trent’s Last Case

Trent Own Trent’s Own Case (1936)

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Note: Actually Trent’s final case!

The murder of a sadistic philanthropist sparks off an elaborate investigation led by artist and amateur criminologist Philip Trent, who had been painting the portrait of the man who was murdered. Two subsequent murders and the disappearance of an actress provide subsidiary mysteries in this inventive tale, which sees Trent in an elaborate maze created by ingenious criminal schemes.

More on Trent’s Own Case

elephant work Elephant’s Work

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Note: A staggering chain of events!

When fed up and thoroughly peeved, Chuny causes the train to crash, but little does she know that her rage has sparked off a staggering chain of events. An amnesiac, who in his quest to find a wanted criminal in order to resolve a case of mistaken identity, meets the formidable General de la Costa, learns a great deal about diamonds, and becomes embroiled in an extraordinary affair involving the Bishop of Glasminster’s mitre. This classic “shocker” was written at the suggestion of Bentley’s friend, John Buchan.

E. C. Bentley Short Stories & Other Works

trent IntervenesTrent Intervenes
Detective: Philip Trent

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Trent Intervenes includes:

The Genuine Tabard
The Sweet Shot
The Clever Cockatoo
The Vanishing Lawyer
The Inoffensive Captain
The Fool-Proof Lift
The Old-Fashioned Apache
The Bad Dog
The Public Benefactor
The Little Mystery
The Unknown Peer
The Ordinary Hairpins

On BroadwayBentley Runyon
Collection: Runyon On Broadway (1950)


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Note: Pure Damon Runyan!

A collection of the stories of Damon Runyon who presents the 1950s world of guys and dolls on Broadway – introduced by E. C. Bentley

The Scoop and Behind The Screenscoop screen
Author: Detection Club


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Note: A Detection Club Radio Script

The Scoop & Behind The Screen are both collaborative detective serials written by members of the Detection Club which were broadcast weekly by their authors on the BBC National Programme in 1930 and 1931 with the scripts then being published in The Listener within a week after broadcast. The two serials were first published in book form in the UK by Victor Gollancz Ltd in 1983 and in the US by Harper & Row in 1984. 

E. C. Bentley Bibliography

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