Helen McCloy


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Helen McCloy


mccloyHelen McCloy (1904 – 1994), was a pseudonym of Helen Clarkson, an American mystery writer, whose series character Dr. Basil Willing debuted in ‘Dance of Death’ (1938). Willing believes, that “every criminal leaves psychic fingerprints, and he can’t wear gloves to hide them.” He appeared in 13 of McCloy’s novels and in several of her short stories. McCloy often used the theme of the doppelganger, but in the end of the story she showed a psychological or realistic explanation for the seemingly supernatural events.

Helen McCloy was born in New York City. Her mother was the writer Helen Worrell McCloy, and her father, William McCloy, was the longtime managing editor of the New York Evening Sun. In the 1950s and 1960s, McCloy was a co-author of a review column for Connecticut newspapers. and in 1950, she became the first woman to serve as president of Mystery Writers of America. In 1954 she also received an Edgar award from the same organization for her criticism.

Having read Sherlock Holmes as a young girl, McCloy retained an interest in mysteries and began to write them in the 1930s. Her first novel, ‘Dance of Death’, was published in 1938. It was followed by several other mystery publications in the 1940s. Cue for Murder (1942) was a story of murder onstage during a Broadway revival of Sardou’s ‘Fédora’. ‘The One That Got Away’ (1945) explored the psychology of Fascism, postulating that it is rooted in woman hatred, and rejection of a mother’s tender care of her children. A non-Willing mystery, ‘Panic’ (1944), was set in a remote cottage in the Catskills and was notable for its use of cryptoanalysis.

In Mr. Splitfoot (1968), Dr. Basil Willing and his wife take shelter at a remote house in New England, where someone must sleep in a haunted room. The title refers to the Devil, but Mr Splitfoot is also a symbol for the two sides of our nature, as Willing points out. In 1987, the critic and mystery writer H.R.F. Keating included this work among the 100 best crime and mystery books ever published.

Another masterpiece is the eighth Basil Willing novel, ‘Through a Glass, Darkly’ (1950), a supernatural puzzle in the tradition of John Dickson Carr. “If you want to scare yourself still in bed, it’s just the thing for you,” the English writer Pamela Hansford Johnson said of the book. Boucher and McComas praised the novel as “an eerie study of the phenomenon of the Doppelganger, . . . handled with such disquieting ambivalence that the ‘rational’ solution seems only an instance of man’s folly in the face of the unknowable.”

(Edited from: Wikipedia: Helen McCloy)

‘Through The Glass Darkly’ (also a short story), was rated #12 on Hoch’s famous 1981 list, and ‘Mr Splitfoot’ was also in the running. These are clearly McCloy’s most important contributions to the locked room genre, though six other works also deserve our attention.

Gadetection on Helen McCloy 

“Helen McCloy also has affinities with the Freeman-Crofts tradition. Her psychiatrist-detective Dr. Basil Willing is in the Dr. Thorndyke tradition. There is a great deal of science of all types in McCloy’s tales. Dr. Willing is especially interested in human sensory perception, the mechanisms by which people see, hear and feel. These often play crucial roles in the stories. Although the designation of Willing as a psychiatrist might lead one to assume that Willing is a specialist in Freudian psychoanalysis, in actual fact he seems most interested in perception and thinking, what today we would call “cognitive psychology”. There are also scientific backgrounds to many of the tales, such as the lab and truth serum in The Deadly Truth (1941), and the UFO investigation in “The Singing Diamonds” (1949).”

More on Helen McCloy


Helen McCloy Novels


Dance DeathDance of Death (1938)
AKA: Design for Dying (UK)
Dr. Basil Willings #1

 

Best Review

****

Available only in ebook – and fairly rare paperback and hardcover editions.

eBook  Book  Amazon.ca

Note: Death by heatstroke in a snowbank?

“The novel opens with a scene featuring sanitation workers who are clearing the streets after a snowstorm. One of them uncovers the body of a young debutante buried in a snow heap. At first it seems as if the novel is going to be yet another treatment of the impossible crime – the body is extremely warm and the face is stained a bright yellow two things that seem incredible after being buried in snow.” (quote from Pretty Sinister Books – see Best Review)

When a prominent New York socialite is murdered by means of an impossible overdose of sliming medication, it takes Dr Basil Willing, a psychiatrist attached to the police department, to solve the case. But more mysterious accidents start occurring during his investigation, and Willing must look deeper to uncover the motive and prevent the murderer from striking again.

More on ‘Dance of Death’


The Man in The Moonlight (1940)Man moonlight
Dr. Basil Willings #2

 

Best Review

****

Available only in ebook – and fairly rare paperback and hardcover editions.

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Note: Nazi spies and murdered scientists.

In the second case featuring psychiatrist-sleuth Basil Willing, he is called to a university campus to help investigate the death of a scientist. It looks like suicide, but with local scandal aplenty, more murders in the mix, and a dose of Nazi espionage, all may not be as it appears.

More on ‘The Man in The Moonlight’


The Deadly Truth (1941)Deadly Truth
Dr. Basil Willings #3

 

Best Review

****

Available only in ebook – and fairly rare paperback and hardcover editions.

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Note: A truth serum cocktail!

When Dr Basil Willing rents a small shack for a vacation on Long Island he becomes embroiled with his landlady, Claudia Bethune. Claudia wants to learn the secrets of her relatives and friends, so she steals a truth serum and holds a dinner party for her nearest and dearest. In the early morning hours, as Dr Willing returns to his cottage, he sees what he thinks is a fire and investigates. He finds Claudia near death at the table and hears footsteps fading up the stairs. Someone didn’t want Claudia to learn the truth about them, and soon Dr Willing finds himself a suspect in murder.

More on ‘The Deadly Truth’


Who’s Calling? (1942)Who's Calling
Dr. Basil Willings #4

 

Best Review

****

Available only in ebook – and fairly rare paperback and hardcover editions.

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Note: Old money and murder in Washington!

The engagement of Archie, a young doctor, to Freda, night club artiste, evokes ghostly phenomena when Archie takes Freda to visit his mother near Washington. Untraceable phone calls, vandalism, a murder, before Basil Willing, psychologist-sleuth takes over, and solves. Sleek, surprising, and synthetic.

More on ‘Who’s Calling?’


Cue MurderCue For Murder (1942)
Dr. Basil Willings #5

 

Best Review

****

Available only in ebook – and fairly rare paperback and hardcover editions.

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Note: A rave review!

“This tale of murder onstage is the best of the Basil Willing books. Unlike most theatrical mysteries, which usually involve productions of either Hamlet or Macbeth, this one is set during a wartime production of Victorian Sardou’s melodrama ‘Fedora’, which offers a unique opportunity for a stage killing. Willing unmasks the murderer through a physical clue–a housefly–and a psychological one–a canary. The plot is watertight, the characters suitably dramatic, and the pace brisk.” The Mystery Lover’s Companion, Art Bourgeau 

More on ‘Cue For Murder’


Goblin MarketThe Goblin Market (1943)
Dr. Basil Willings #6

 

Best Review

****

Available only in ebook – and fairly rare paperback and hardcover editions.

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Note: A war time spy tale with lots of codes and ciphers

It’s 1943, and down-on-his-luck American ex-patriot Philip Stark is in the Caribbean island nation of Santa Teresa. The pre-war destination playground is deserted now except for diplomats and oil refinery workers, who often see their efforts sunk by German U-boats that attack departing tankers. When one of the local wire services correspondents dies, Stark sees a chance to make some money. Having worked for the same company in the past, Stark offers his services and is hired to replace the dead man. But, unlike the police, Stark doesn’t think his predecessor died by accident. As he looks further into the mystery, he encounters a rival correspondent, an enigmatic police officer, the mistress of the dead man, and other local residents who all seem to have a stake in the dead man’s activities.

More on ‘The Goblin Market’


Do Not Disturb (1943)D0 Not Disturb
Non series

 

Best Review

****

Available only in ebook – and fairly rare paperback and hardcover editions.

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Note: Curiosity doesn’t only kill cats!

The sign read ‘Do Not Disturb’, and at first Edith Talbot ignored the pitiful whimpering that came through the door. The hotel clerk assured her that the room was occupied by a sick boy under the care of a physician. Later in the night, when the cries resumed, she felt something must be done, and she made the fatal mistake of knocking on the door …

From then on things begin to happen, strange things that at first seem like coincidence but crescendo into a series of hair-raising events.

More on ‘Do Not Disturb’


Panic (1944)Panic McCloy
Non series

 

Best Review

****

Available only in ebook – and fairly rare paperback and hardcover editions.

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Note: A dangerous journey!

When Uncle Felix dies of a suspected overdose of digitalis, his niece Alison accepts the offer of a remote mountain lodge for the summer to get away from the tragedy. But there are strange noises in the night and sinister visitors – and she discovers that the previous tenant was driven insane. What also transpires is that Uncle Felix had devised what he claimed to be an unbreakable cypher. The Pentagon is interested in this claim, and Alison has a fragment of a clue found beside her uncle’s bed. In the mountains she wrestles with the puzzle. But solving it will put her life in grave danger

More on ‘Panic’


One Got AwayThe One That Got Away (1945)
Dr. Basil Willings #7

 

Best Review

****

Available only in ebook – and fairly rare paperback and hardcover editions.

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Note: Looks like a locked room puzzle – but not for long!

A castle, a deserted village, and murder in the Scottish Highlands. When child psychologist and US Naval Intelligence officer Lieutenant Peter Dunbar takes on a secret mission in the Scottish Highlands at the end of World War II, he finds himself drawn into the lives of a troubled boy and his beautiful young cousin. But why does Johnny Stockton refuse to explain why he keeps running away from his comfortable home? And how might the answer be entangled with the mystery of an escaped German prisoner and a dying man’s message? 

As a locked room title: Not included in Robert Adey’s Locked Room bibliography, but included in “1001 Chambers Close’ by Roland Lacourbe. The problem appears to be quite simple, as Mike Grost notes in his background comments on on this book: “The second murder at first looks like a locked room puzzle: strictly speaking, a locked house. But soon, the sleuths discover that they have simply overlooked an exit from the house.”

More on ‘The One That got Away’


She WalksShe Walks Alone (1948)
AKA: Wish You Were Dead
Non Series

 

Best Review

****

Available only in ebook – and fairly rare paperback and hardcover editions.

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Note: Murder on the High Seas

Murder on the high seas and a loose bushmaster make for a harrowing voyage on the S.S. Santa Christina. The complex calculations and evasions of Nina Keyes, bearer (and loser) of a hundred thousand dollars from a dead man, the deaths which attend her passage from the Bahamas back to the United States, the fear she generates, the innocence she cultivates, until, pursued and closed in on all sides, the case is broken.


Glass DarklyThrough a Glass, Darkly (1950)
Dr. Basil Willings #8

 

Good Mystery Review

****

Available in ebook. Used paperback and hardcover editions are fairly rare.

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Note: One of the spookiest locked room classics!

Gisela von Hohenems joins the teaching staff of an exclusive girls’ school in upstate New York, where she befriends fellow newcomer Faustina Coyle. But a climate of fear surrounds Faustina, and after several strange incidents that defy rational explanation, Faustina is forced to resign. Gisela asks her fiance, detective-psychologist Dr Basil Willing, to investigate these occurrences in this highly acclaimed Locked Room mystery, that was ranked #12 on Edward D. Hoch’s famous 1981 list of all time best Locked Room mysteries.

The central theme of this work focuses on the concept of a ‘doppleganger’, a ghostly double of a living person. This story exists in two different versions: a short story “Through a Glass, Darkly” (1948), and the novel of the same name, ‘Through a Glass, Darkly’ (1949 – 1950). Both versions are quite close in terms of plot and character. 

More on: Through a Glass, Darkly


Alias Basil Willing (1951)Alias Basil
Dr. Basil Willings #9

 

Best Review

****

Available only in ebook – and fairly rare paperback and hardcover editions.

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Note: Double Basil Willings

Psychiatrist-sleuth Dr Basil Willing is in a tobacconist’s in Manhattan when another customer follows him into the shop, buys cigarettes, and leaves in a hurry. The man hails a taxi to take him to 51st street with the instruction: ‘Come back and call for me; I am Dr Basil Willing.’ Intrigued, the real Basil Willing hails a second taxi and finds himself at a formal dinner party given by a psychiatrist for his patients, who do not really seem at ease there – and later he discovers the horrifying reason why!

More on ‘Alias Basil Willing’


Better Off Dead  (1951)Better Dead
Non Series

 

Best Review

****

Available only in ebook – and a used Dell 10cent paperback – only 64 pages

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Note: A long trip home?

After 15 years of living elsewhere under an assumed name – one he has made famous by becoming a successful writer – Frank Bly, aka Stephen Longworth, returns to the town where an attempt was made on his life, and from which he escaped leaving no clues behind. He confronts several people who have thought him dead. He thinks one of them is the person who tried to kill him. Before he finds the truth, there is more murder, attempted murder and a suicide.


Unfinished Crime (1954)unfinished crime
AKA: He Never Came Back
Non series

 

Best Review

****

Available only in ebook – and fairly rare paperback and hardcover editions.

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Note: A large red pendant proves dangerous!

When Sara Dacre comes across a large red pendant at a twenty cent jewellery stall she is tempted to buy it – especially when she bumps into her friend Gerry Hone, who persuades her that it will brighten up her old grey taffeta. But soon she finds herself at the centre of some strange events. On leaving the shop she and Gerry witness the scene of an accident – but nobody can agree what happened. And when Gerry takes her to an automat for coffee he goes to the counter to order – and never comes back! 

More on ‘Unfinished Crime’


The Long Body (1955)long body
Dr. Basil Willings #10

 

Best Review

****

Available only in ebook – and fairly rare paperback and hardcover editions.

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Note:  A dead diplomat and a missing file!

A prominent American diplomat falls over a cliff to his death. The death is accepted as an accident, but could it have been suicide – or even murder? His widow finds a locked drawer in his desk and in it a file with a woman’s name on it – but the file is empty.

Circumstances lead her to an elderly man bearing the same name, but he has a stroke and can neither speak nor write. And then she sees the car headlights coming at her, fast, at night, through an impenetrable mist!


Two-Thirds of a Ghost (1956)2:3 ghost
Dr. Basil Willings #11

 

Best Review

****

Available only in ebook – and rare paperback and hardcover editions.

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Note: A deadly drink!

Amos Cottle was a valuable property—a first-rate novelist who produced four best sellers in four years. He had to be protected. From himself (he was an ex-alcoholic). And from his wife (she was a gold-digging siren and she spelled trouble). His publisher and his agent thought Amos’s problems were solved when they clawed the beautiful Vera out of his hair and shipped her off to Hollywood. But they were wrong. For there came a night when Vera returned. That was the night Amos had to have a drink. It was too bad he never lived to sober up.

More on ‘Two-Thirds of a Ghost’


Slayer SlainThe Slayer and The Slain (1957)
Non Series

 

Best Review

*****

Available only in ebook – and rare paperback and hardcover editions.

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Note: Spoiler alert below! A missing locked room classic!

Gadetection refers to this as “McCloy’s masterpiece an admirable (and in my knowledge, unique) piece of bamboozlement with an unforgettable last line. Not to be missed.”  Comment The Slayer and the Slain (1957) primarily deals with the psychological effects of amnesia. Harry Vaughan’s uncle has just passed away, providing the young man with a sizeable fortune. He leaves his  job, and returns to the woman he loves. But nothing happens as planned. Harry falls on some icy steps and loses part of his memory. He later feels himself ten years older, suffers from headaches, meets people who know him but he doesn’t remember. “The book ends in a locked-room mystery: Harry is shot dead in a room where all the doors and windows are locked.” Gadetection: McCloy In our ‘Best Review’ it is also referred to as an apparent impossible crime – yet this book is not listed in either of the major locked room bibliographies. This one was clearly missed!

More on: The Slayer and Slain


The Last Day (1959)Last Day
Written as Helen Clarkson

 

Best Review

**

Available only in hardcover edition and online.

Read online  Book  

Note: McCloy’s version of ‘On The Beach’!

Not a mystery. This book is a work of post-apocalyptic fiction, not unlike Nevil Shute’s “On the Beach” (1957) or Mordecai Roshwald’s “Level 7” (1959). It takes place in an idyllic village in New England, and follows a few survivors, who are trapped and threatened by nuclear fallout after a nuclear war. McCloy tells us of their lives, interactions and feelings, at great length and in detail, for a crucial period of six days while their future remains unclear. 


Before I Die (1963)Before I Die
Non Series

 

Best Review

***

Available only in ebook – and rare paperback and hardcover editions.

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Note: No reviews, a lost book ignored by critics?

The Passing Tramp notes: “Helen McCloy’s The Slayer and the Slain appeared in 1957, after a mid-1950s succession of worthy books: the thriller (a sort of Moonstone homage) Unfinished Crime and the Basil Willing detective tales The Long Body (1955) and Two-Thirds of a Ghost (1956). Between 1958 and 1966 nothing appeared besides the novel Before I Die (1963) and a story collection, The Singing Diamonds (1965). Then in 1967 The Further Side of Fear appeared and between that year and 1980 Helen McCloy published ten crime novels.Why that long, relatively unproductive gap after The Slayer and the Slain? Perhaps Helen McCloy felt she achieved her masterpiece with Slayer.”

Whatever the reason may be, there is little information on this title. It is the only book by McCloy not reviewed by Mike Grost. Have put it on my review list, which is far too long!

Kyra Novacs: Who was she? Where did she come from? Bob knew almost nothing about her, just enough to fall hopelessly in love with her. They were thrown together for business reasons and, believing her to be single, he threw caution to the wind. But Kyra isn’t single. And when her husband is killed in the midst of an argument over divorce, it falls to Bob’s loyal wife of seventeen years, Susan, to prove his innocence.


Side of FearThe Further Side of Fear (1967)
Inspector Devlin

 

Best Review

*****

Available only in ebook – and fairly rare paperback and hardcover editions.

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Note: McCloy’s first true locked room mystery???

Lydia Grey, an American returning to London after many years, is woken by footsteps in the night. There is someone in her room – of that she is sure. But that is also impossible. There is only one door and it is bolted shut. The windows are eight floors up, and are locked against the winter night. As the noise recedes she switches on her bedside lamp. No one is there. Was it a dream? An illusion of a half-awakened state? Or is someone out to get her?

Another McCloy title that has received little critical attention. Mike Grost in his review on ‘The One That Got Away’, remarks: “It will apparently not be till ‘The Further Side of Fear’ (1967) that McCloy will create a true locked room puzzle.” (Grost Review) Quite an amazing statement for a book published seventeen years after ‘Through a Glass Darkly” – which is #12 on Hoch’s famous list of all time best Locked Room mysteries! Grost also correctly notes that the late 1960’s was “an atypical era in mystery history for a writer to develop an interest in locked room puzzles”.


SplitfootMr. Splitfoot(1968)
Dr. Basil Willings #12

 

Best Review

*****

Available only in ebook – and rare paperback and hardcover editions.

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Note: Laying a trap for The Devil

To wake the devil, Lucinda summoned the arch fiend with the ancient invocation, and from the secret room where her friend Vanya had agreed to hide came the eerie response. The rapping called up all the terror of the old tales, and the joke was going marvellously. Until Lucinda realised that Vanya had never arrived at the old house!

Mr Splitfoot is a name given to the Devil in the mountainous regions of New England, where Dr. Willing and his wife find shelter when their car breaks down. There is a shortage of lodgings so three men draw a card to decide who will spend the night in a long unused room where three people mysteriously died, that has been considered ‘haunted’ ever since. The story balances on that elusive line between between rational thought and superstition. They lay a trap for a ghostly devil – all the while proclaiming that “there are no ghosts, except in the minds of the living” – then must explain the macabre results of their experiment.

More on ‘Mr. Splitfoot’


question timeA Question of Time (1971)
Alfred Neroni

 

Best Review

****

Available only in ebook and used paperback editions.

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Note: Scared to death?

They told Lisa she was the daughter of an American aristocrat and an Italian princess both of whom died shortly after Lisa’s birth. They told Lisa she was heiress to a vast Boston fortune, and that her American family cherished her and wanted her to stay with them.

At first Lisa tried to believe it all. Then she tried to separate the truth from the lies. Finally, she would know one thing for sure. Somebody or something was out to destroy her!

“The stillness in the old ballroom was torn apart by a scream. Sophronia ran down the hall to her grandchild Lisa. ‘Why did you scream?’ ‘Because I have been here before. All this has happened before.” Is it really possible to die of ‘deja vu’ inside a locked ballroom? Mike Grost correctly notes that this is more of a paranormal thriller than a true locked room mystery – at least until near the end!

More on ‘A Question of Time’


change heartA Change of Heart (1973)
Non Series

 

Best Review

****

Available only in ebook, some used paperback editions available at a reasonable cost.

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Note: Evil from the past strikes father and daughter

Girzel Graeme looked on her father as the embodiment of all that was wise and good. But now her father lay in a hospital hovering between life and death, and the evil that struck him down reached out to claim his daughter. What terrifying secret did her father’s past conceal? What horrifying act could he have committed? And what nameless danger threatened his daughter as she followed the lure of a fabulous jewel into a labyrinth of deceit, on the trail of a mysterious man who could save her faith in her father – or destroy both it and her.

More on ‘A Change of Heart’


SleepwalkerThe Sleepwalker (1974)
Non Series

 

Best Review

****

Available only in ebook, some used paperback editions available at a reasonable cost.

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Note: Happiness is ignorance?

Marian Tansey appears to be living a happy life. She has great friends, a job in a thrift shop, and she has just bought a new car. She may even be falling in love with Dick Lang, who sold it to her. She could be on top of the world, but there are a few clouds in the sky. There is a mystery surrounding the car. It has been ‘borrowed’ during the night by someone unknown. But most of all there’s the frightening fact that, although she hasn’t admitted it to any of her friends or colleagues, Marian lost her memory a year or two ago and has no idea who she is. Then, there is a murder…


Minotaur CountryMinotaur Country (1975)
Non Series

 

Best Review

***

Available only in ebook, some used paperback editions available at a reasonable cost.

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Note: Zombie’s first lady? 

Tatiana ‘Tash’ Perkins, a brilliant young journalist, is sent by her paper to interview the State Governor’s wife, and a strange interview it is: the woman behaves like a zombie, and when they are alone together she slips a letter to Tash and asks her to post it. But before Tash can do so, her handbag is snatched and the letter with it. Yet the governor charms her, and soon she is accepting a job as his campaign speech-writer. But Tash is soon drawn into a frightening sequence of events, ranging from the killing of a canary to murder by arson, and an assassination at a political rally.

More on ‘Minotaur Country’


The Changeling Conspiracy (1976)Changeling Conspiracy
AKA: Cruel as The Grave
Non-Series

 

Best Review

****

Available only in ebook, some used paperback editions available at a reasonable cost.

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Note: Transformation or con?

Adam Endicott did not want Sam Joel as a husband for his young daughter, Kate. His past was sketchy and, as a reporter on a small-town newspaper, his assets were meagre. Yet when Kate is abducted by a terrorist group, Sam is able to produce a large part of the ransom. But paying the terrorists’ demand does not bring back Kate. It only leads to another murder. When Sam decides to look for Kate himself he indeed finds a girl, but is it her? Can her experience have changed her this much? Is this the girl he loves, or a changeling?

More on ‘The Changeling Conspiracy’


ImposterThe Imposter (1977)
Non-Series

 

Best Review

****

Available only in used paperback editions.

Book Only

Note: It’s a bad day when you wake up diagnosed with ‘delusions’!

Maria Skinner recovers consciousness after a car crash to find herself in a psychiatric clinic. She remembers the crash quite clearly but she is told that she is suffering from delusions – and must not leave hospital. She tries to contact her husband but is informed that he is unavailable. Finally, in a desperate attempt to escape, she reluctantly agrees to accompany a man who insists he is her husband – but whom she knows is an impostor. Moving from one captivity to another, she becomes a pawn in someone else’s sinister game .

More on ‘The Imposter’


Smoking MirrorThe Smoking Mirror (1979)
Non-Series

 

Best Review

***

Available in ebook, some used paperback editions available at a reasonable cost.

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Note: What’s his system?

Celia McNeill is under arrest during her vacation to France and, desperate for cash, she makes a deal with card master Sergei Radetzkoy, whom she meets while being detained in Dieppe. He says he’s just lucky at cards, but the crooks who follow him from the casino aren’t interested in his winnings. They demand to know his ‘system’. The fashionable folk who rescue him don’t conceal their interest in his extraordinary success at the casino either – an interest that soon leads to murder!


burn thisBurn This (1980)
Basil Willings #13

 

Best Review

****

Available only in ebook, very rare paperback, but some used hardcover editions at a reasonable cost.

eBook  Book  Amazon.ca

Note: The return of Basil Willings!

Boston landlady Harriet Sutton discovers a note about a conspiracy to murder someone – a note that must have come from one of her tenants. When a tenant is murdered, she asks psychiatrist-sleuth Dr Basil Willing to investigate. Her son, a Vietnam veteran whom the police consider a victim of combat fatigue who may be capable of anything, is under suspicion. And as the mystery unfolds, Harriet Sutton tries desperately to prove them wrong.

More on ‘Burn This’


Helen McCloy Short Stories Collections


Singing DiamondThe Singing Diamonds & Other Stories (1951)
AKA:Surprise, Surprise! (1965)
Dr. Basil Willings and non-series

 

Best Review

***

Available only in ebook – and rare hardcover editions.

eBook  Book  Amazon.ca

Note: Alien killers?

In ‘The Singing Diamonds’ – Mathilde Verworn enlists the help of Basil Willing, a psychiatrist-sleuth, to answer the question of whether there is such a thing as collective hallucination. Six people from six different locations testify to seeing diamond-shaped objects in the sky, and four of those six have died in peculiar circumstances in the past twelve days!   

As was common in the post Bond era – everything revolves arounds spies and deals with US-Russian Cold War rivalry, Naval Intelligence, and the concept of psychological textual analysis. Not listed in Robert Adey’s bibliography, but listed by Roland Lacourbe. Lacourbe has a point, what appear to be impossible deaths caused by aliens – prove to have a more logical criminal origin. Not a true locked room – but clearly an impossible crime story!

There are only four good mysteries in this collection, the rest are all basically sci-fi. The Other Side of The Curtain and Chinoiserie are the only good reason to purchase this collection, if you already have ‘The Pleasant Assassin and Other Cases of Dr. Basil Willing’.

Other stories included in this collection:

Chinoiserie  Review
Number 10 Q Street
Silence Burning
The Other Side of The Curtain  Review
Surprise, Surprise!
Through a Glass, Darkly  Review
The Singing Diamonds  Review
Windless

More on ‘The Singing Diamonds & Other Stories’


Pleasant assassinThe Pleasant Assassin and Other Cases of Dr. Basil Willing (2003)
Dr. Basil Willings #14

 

Best Review

*****

Available in ebook, paperback and hardcover editions.

eBook  Book  Amazon.ca

Note: All 10 Basil Willings stories!

The Pleasant Assassin, assembles in one volume all ten short stories about Basil Willing, including eight previously uncollected tales. The reader will soon discover why Helen McCloy was one of the finest authors of the Golden Age of Detective Stories.

Included in this collection:

Through a Glass, Darkly  Review
The Singing Diamonds  Review
The Case of The Duplicate Door  Review
The Brother Death
Murder Stops The Music  Review
The Pleasant Assassin
Murder Ad Lib  Review
A Case of Innocent Eavesdropping
Murphy’s Law  Review
That Bug That’s Going Around  Review


Helen McCloy Bibliography


Locked Room 101: The Masters


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