Saturday, November 14, 2009

Paperback Cover Cavalcade 4

Calling Scotland Yard. Being the casebook of Chief Superintendent Arthur Thorpe, presented by A. Noyes Thomas (Digit Books, Feb 1956)
Thorp's casebook contains enough material for a whole library of volumes, but in this book the reader will find a concentrated choice of the most varied and remarkable crimes which have been committed over the last thirty-five years. Here, for instance, are the Coventry Cyanide Case, in which the lady who was going to administer a dose to her husband in his whisky ended by drinking it herself; the Red Oil Case, which involved the shadowing and melodramatic chase through London of a Russian agent who was trying to obtain information from an employer of one of the world's largest oil corporations; the Babe Mancini Murder, set against a background of garish nightclub gambling hells.
A reprint of the hardback originally published by Allan Wingate in 1954. Alfred Noyes Thomas wrote a number of biographical books, including I Defy! The story of Lieutenant D. Lankford (1954), The Queen's Sister. An intimate portrait of Princess Margaret (1955) and Doctor Courageous. The story of Dr. Grantly Dick Read (1957). I believe he was related to Alfred Noyes (1880-1958), the poet who wrote "The Highwayman" (1906). A little biographical note I found on the web claimed that Noyes' sister married David William Thomas of Brynhawk, Maescrugiau, Carmathenshire, who was the archdeacon of St. David's and Skenfrith, Monmouth. They had one son, Alfred Noyes Thomas, who lived at Hazlemere, Surrey. From my own research I've found that his birth was registered in Llandilofawr, Carmathenshire, in 1915. He seems to have lived in Hindhead, Guildford, from the mid-1950s until the 1980s.

Recoil by Brien How (Digit R736, Jul 1963)
When Nora Parrington misses the 5.30 back to Somerset, she has to wait two and a half hours at Paddington and during this time Edward Griggs, well-known Taunton bookmaker, meets an untimely end.
__Diligent investigation leads the police to Nora. Though they fail to find a loophole in her defence, Nora's solicitor husband knows something the police do not. As he is having an affair with another woman, he sees his way clear to rid himself of Nora and puts into operation a diabolically ingenious plan.
__With its exciting twists and authentic legal background, this story hallmarks Brien How as a new novelist of considerable skill.
Originally published by Robert Hale in 1962, this was the debut and, as far as I can tell, only novel by Brien How, the abbreviated name used by barrister at law Herbert Henry Brien How. How is still something of a mystery himself. His book was submitted via an agent and even his publishers know nothing of him. However, it would seem that he was born in Richmond, Surrey, on 4 April 1913, and was called to the bar of the Inner Temple in 1936; at that time he was living in London but spent at least part of his subsequent career in Hong Kong. He served in the Intelligence Corps during the War and was married at least twice, firstly to Margaret J. Thorburne in 1947 and then to Joan Purdue (formerly Lea) in 1953. He is last known to have been living in Malaga. Given the positive reviews his first novel received ("accomplished", "ingenious", "an exciting novel", according to the Eastern Daily Express, Birmingham Post and Alec Waugh respectively) it seems a shame he did not continue writing.

A Sudden Loneliness by Dinah Lawrence (Digit R619, Sep 1962)
David Carew is a young man raised in a gritty, down-to-earth working class town in the North of England. Frustrated with the possessiveness of his mother, and the pettiness of the people around him, he strives to enter the glossy, material world of the middle-classes.
__This is a novel about love and ambition, about frustration and ultimate tragedy. Written with vigour, with courage and with sincerity, it is typical of our day and age.
Like Brien How above, Dinah Lawrence appears to be a one-off novelist, although she made some contributions to Swift Annual in 1958-60. Since I previously mentioned her two years ago, I've discovered very little. She contributed to Girl Annual 1964 (1963) and I think she may have been a feature writer for various magazines over the years, but that's only a guess.

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