Miles Bredon / Ronald Knox


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ronald KnoxRonald Arbuthnott Knox (1888 – 1957) was an English priest, theologian and author of detective stories. He was also a writer and a regular broadcaster for BBC Radio.

Ronald Knox was born into an Anglican family in Kibworth, Leicestershire, England. His father was Edmund Arbuthnott Knox, who became the Bishop of Manchester. Knox attended Eton College and won several scholarships at Balliol College, Oxford. He also served as the classics tutor to the brother of a friend at Eton – Harold MacMillan – although he was later dismissed by Nellie MacMillan for being a high-church Anglican. He was ordained an Anglican priest in 1912 and appointed chaplain of Trinity College, Oxford, but he left in 1917 upon his conversion to Catholicism. Knox was, in part, led to the Catholic Church by the English writer G. K. Chesterton, and when Chesterton was received into the Catholic Church, he in turn was influenced by Knox, who delivered the homily for Chesterton’s requiem mass in Westminster Cathedral. He explained his spiritual journey in two privately printed books, ‘Apologia’ (1917) and ‘A Spiritual Aeneid’ (1918). Knox also served in an Army Intelligence role during the First World War, and in 1918 was ordained a Catholic priest.

Knox wrote and broadcast on Christianity and other subjects. Directed by his religious superiors, he re-translated the Latin Vulgate Bible into English, using Hebrew and Greek sources, beginning in 1936. He also translated ‘The Imitation of Christ’ and Thérèse of Lisieux’s ‘Autobiography of a Saint’. 

While Catholic chaplain at the University of Oxford (1926–1939) and after his elevation to Monsignor in 1936, he wrote classic detective stories. In 1929 he codified the rules for detective stories into a “decalogue” of ten commandments. He was one of the founding members of the Detection Club and wrote several works of detective fiction, including five novels and a short story featuring Miles Bredon, who is employed as a private investigator by the Indescribable Insurance Company.

An essay in Knox’s Essays in Satire (1928), “Studies in the Literature of Sherlock Holmes”, was the first of the genre of mock-serious critical writings on Sherlock Holmes and mock-historical studies in which the existence of Holmes, Watson, et al. is assumed. Another of these essays, The Authorship of “In Memoriam”, purports to prove that Tennyson’s poem was actually written by Queen Victoria. Another satirical essay, “Reunion All Round”, mocked the fabled Anglican tolerance in the form of an appeal to the Anglican Church to absorb everyone from Muslims to atheists, and even Catholics after murdering Irish children and banning Irish marriage and reproduction. 

He also began a work of apologetics intended to reach a wider audience than his ‘The Belief of Catholics’ (1927), but all his activities were curtailed by his sudden and serious illness early in 1957. At the invitation of his old friend, Harold Macmillan, he stayed at 10 Downing Street while in London to consult a specialist. The doctor confirmed the diagnosis of incurable cancer.

He died on August 24, 1957 and his body was brought to Westminster Cathedral, before later being buried in the churchyard of St Andrew’s Church, Mells.

The first biography of Knox, entitled ‘The Life of Ronald Knox’, was the work of his friend and literary executor, Evelyn Waugh, and appeared two years after his death. Waugh, a devout Catholic and fervent admirer of Knox’s works, had obtained his friend’s permission for the task.

In January 1926, for one of his regular BBC Radio programmes, Knox broadcast a simulated live report of revolution sweeping across London entitled Broadcasting from the Barricades. In addition to live reports of several people, including a government minister, being lynched, his broadcast mixed supposed band music from the Savoy Hotel with the hotel’s purported destruction by trench mortars. The Houses of Parliament and the clock tower were also said to have been flattened. Because the broadcast occurred on a snowy weekend, much of the United Kingdom was unable to get the newspapers until days later. The lack of newspapers caused a minor panic, as it was believed that this was caused by the events in London. A 2005 BBC report on the broadcast suggests that the innovative style of Knox’s programme may have influenced Orson Welles’s radio broadcast “The War of the Worlds” (1938), which it foreshadowed in its consequences. In an interview for the book This is Orson Welles, Welles himself said that the broadcast gave him the idea for “The War of the Worlds”. The script of the broadcast is reprinted in Essays in Satire (1928).

Edited from Wikipedia: Ronald Knox

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Miles Bredon detective novels


three tapsThe Three Taps (1927) 

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****

Note: A question of gas?

In a gas-lit inn in the countryside a man lies dead. The police, of course, investigate – and so do Miles Bredon and his wife, in the interests of the Indescribable Insurance Company, with which the deceased man, Mr Mottram, had been heavily insured.

The culprit is the three gas taps in Mr Mottram’s room, and Miles hopes to prove that his death is suicide. Miles’ old wartime colleague, Police Inspector Leyland, is convinced it’s murder. And the conclusion is as ingenious as it is surprising.


footsteps lock The Footsteps at the Lock (1928)

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Best Review
****

Note: Where’s the body?

At first sight the case looks simple enough to private investigator Miles Bredon. Two cousins on a boat trip on the River Thames: Derek with a £50,000 reason for surviving the next two months until he inherits a legacy; Nigel with a £50,000 reason for getting rid of him and inheriting the money himself.

When Derek disappears, Nigel naturally falls under suspicion – not least because he has a train of alibis that is almost too perfect. But where is the body? And if this is not murder, whose is the photograph of a body slumped in a boat, and who left the wet footprints at the lock?


body silo The Body in the Silo (1933)

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***

Note: The Eloping Game?

When private investigator Miles Bredon and his wife, Angela, arrive for a weekend at the Hallifords’ country house, they find themselves part of a singularly ill-assorted house party. Waking one morning to the news that one among their number has been found dead by the silo, Miles has no shortage of suspects.

The entire party had spent the previous night haring around the country side in an ‘eloping’ game instigated by their hostess, and no one can fully account for their whereabouts. The arrival of Inspector Leyland from Scotland Yard, investigating a spate of apparent suicides of important people, adds another dimension to the mystery, and Miles finds himself wondering ‘whether the improbable ought to be told’.


still deadStill Dead (1934) 

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****

Note: Time of death?

After Colin Reiver is acquitted of responsibility for killing a child in a car accident he sets out on a sea cruise in the hope that it might ease local feeling and the voice of his own conscience.

But when a few days after his departure Colin is found dead by the roadside, Miles Bredon, investigator for the Indescribable Insurance Company, must travel to Scotland to establish precisely when the death occurred. The body has disappeared and reappeared in the space of forty-eight hours and a large insurance premium is at stake.


double cross Double Cross Purposes (1937)

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****

Note: In search of Prince Charlie’s Treasure!

The Hon. Vernon Lethaby is a flamboyant, headline-seeking exhibitionist with extravagant tastes and an allowance that barely covers his racing debts. In an unlikely partnership with middle-aged Canadian adventurer Joe ‘Digger’ Henderson, he strikes out for the Highlands of Scotland to hunt for Prince Charlie’s treasure, which, according to legend, is interred on the isle of Erran.

But Lathaby doesn’t trust his partner, and has taken out insurance to cover him against being swindled. Enter Miles Bredon, who is sent by his employer to ensure than neither of them defrauds the Indescribable Insurance Company.


Ronald Knox Short Stories


Solved by Inspection (1931)oxford detectives
Detective: Miles Bredon
Collection:Oxford Book of Detective stories

Best Review
****

Available in paperback and hardcover editions.

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murder tracksThe Adventure of the First Class Carriage (1947)
Collection: Murder on The Tracks

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Ronald Knox Other Mystery


viaduct murderThe Viaduct Murder (1925)
Detectives: Four golfers

 

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***

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Note: A round of four?

When four friends stumble across the body of a fellow club member during a game of golf they suspect murder. The police aren’t so sure, and when it looks as though the official verdict will be suicide the men are outraged. Convinced that there had been ‘dirty work’ and that ‘the police aren’t very good at following up clues’, they undertake their own investigation.


knox sherlocRonald Knox & Sherlock Holmes: 
The Origin of Sherlockian Studies
Author:  Michael J. Crowe, Editor

Best Review
*****

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Note: Sherlock is alive and well!

Ronald Knox’s critical studies of Sherlock Holmes, as a real detective.


Behind the Screen (1930)scoop screen

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Note: Written by six Detection Club authors!


The Floating Admiral (1931) DC Floating Admiral 2

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Note: Written by 14 Detection Club authors.


Six Against the Yard (1936)DC six against yard

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Note: Written by six Detection Club authors!


Ten Commandments for Detective Fiction

Read on Gadetection

Note: One of the most important developmental essays in the genre!


Ronald Knox Bibliography


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