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Ianthe Jerrold was born in 1898, the daughter of the well-known author and journalist Walter Jerrold, and granddaughter of the Victorian playwright Douglas Jerrold. She was the eldest of five sisters. She published her first book, a work of verse, at the age of fifteen. This was the start of a long and prolific writing career characterized by numerous stylistic shifts. In 1929 she published the first of two classic and influential whodunits. The Studio Crime gained her immediate acceptance into the recently-formed but highly prestigious Detection Club, and was followed a year later by Dead Man’s Quarry.
Ianthe Jerrold subsequently moved on from pure whodunits to write novels ranging from romantic fiction to psychological thrillers. She continued writing and publishing her fiction into the 1970’s. She died in 1977, twelve years after her husband George Menges. Their Elizabethan farmhouse Cwmmau was left to the National Trust.
Ianthe Jerrold Mystery Novels
The Studio Crime (1929)
Detective: John Christmas
Note: John Christmas’ first case!
“He is dead. It is quite impossible that he should have killed himself. He has been murdered. About half an hour ago. By a long knife passed under the left shoulder-blade into the heart.”
On a fog-bound London night, a soirée is taking place in the studio of artist Laurence Newtree. The guests include an eminent psychiatrist, a wealthy philanthropist and an observant young friend of Newtree’s, John Christmas. Before the evening is over, Newtree’s neighbour is found stabbed to death in what appears to be an impossible crime. But a mysterious man in a fez has been spotted in the fog asking for highly unlikely directions…The resourceful John Christmas takes on the case, unofficially, leading to an ingenious solution no one could have expected, least of all Inspector Hembrow of Scotland Yard.The Studio Crime is the first of Ianthe Jerrold’s classic whodunit novels, originally published in 1929. Its impact led to her membership of the elite Detection Club, and its influence can be felt on later works by John Dickson Carr, Ngaio Marsh and Dorothy L. Sayers among others.This edition, the first in over eighty years, features a new introduction by crime fiction historian Curtis Evans.
Praise for The Studio Crime”The best out of a new batch of detective stories.” J.B. Priestley in The Evening News “Very carefully constructed, is very well written, and keeps its secret until the end.” The Morning Post” Can be most heartily recommended to those who like a good mystery story written in good English.” Newcastle Chronicle “The book is a pleasantly written record of an admirable piece of detective work.” Times Literary Supplement
Dead Man’s Quarry: A Golden Age Mystery (1930)
Detective: John Christmas
Note: A cycling holiday turns deadly!
“The murderer was also riding a bicycle… why, if we can trace it, we shall have the murderer!”
On a cycling holiday in the idyllic Wales-Herefordshire border countryside, Nora and her friends make a gruesome discovery – the body of their missing comrade at the bottom of a quarry. But an apparently accidental fall turns out to have been murder – for the man was shot in the head. Fortunately John Christmas, last seen in The Studio Crime (1929), is on hand with his redoubtable forensic assistant, Sydenham Rampson. Between them they shed light on an intricate pattern of crimes… and uncover a most formidable foe. Dead Man’s Quarry is the second of Ianthe Jerrold’s classic and influential whodunits, originally published in 1930. This edition, the first for more than eighty years, features a new introduction by crime fiction historian Curtis Evans.
Let Him Lie (1940)
(as Geraldine Bridgman)
Note: Meddling in sacred places?
Artist Jeanie Halliday is thrilled to move into a country cottage of her own, next door to the home of her dear childhood friend Agnes. But the countryside idyll isn’t quite what she might have expected: Agnes is suddenly and unaccountably unfriendly for one thing; and then the neighbours are a little peculiar – old Mr Fone, obsessed with burial mounds; the scandalous Hugh Barchard; and an estranged mother taken to brandishing pistols around.
Soon after the feline victim is found, a shot is heard – the corpse of Robert Molyneux, Agnes’s husband, is discovered with a bullet in his brain. Was Molyneux a meddler in sacred places, a secret lothario… or simply a man who knew too much? And how does the unfortunate cat fit in? It will fall to Jeanie to assist the local police superintendent and fit the pieces of a baffling mystery.
Let Him Lie is a classic golden age detective story from 1940, written by a queen of the form. It includes a new introduction by crime fiction historian Curtis Evans.
There May Be Danger (1948)
(as Geraldine Bridgman)
Note: War time espionage!
Amid the danger of World War Two’s London, Kate Mayhew is returning from another hopeless round of the theatrical agents. She is about to take a job in munitions when a poster about a missing child prompts her to help the war effort in a very different way. Obsessed with finding out what has happened to young Sidney Brentwood, Kate journeys to rural Wales where the boy was last seen.
Aided by land-girl Aminta and the dashing young archaeologist Colin Kemp, Kate stumbles upon clandestine activities unknown to the War Office. The mystery of Sidney’s disappearance is the key to a plot that may vitally endanger the security of Great Britain itself. Kate must both solve the conundrum, and act before it’s too late.
There May Be Danger was first published in 1948, and was the last mystery novel by Ianthe Jerrold. This edition features a new introduction by crime fiction historian Curtis Evans.
Ianthe Jerrold Short Stories
The Orchestra of Death
Collection: Strange Tales from the Strand Magazine (Ed by Jack Adrian & Julian Symons
Available only in hardcover edition.
A Lovely Lady
Collection: Sails of Gold, Ed by Lady Cynthia Asquith (1927)
Available only in hardcover editions.