Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday's Forgotten Books:
Keep It Quiet, by Richard Hull (1935).

It is one of the mysteries of club life that almost every club periodically has at least one fantastic member who systematically steals the books from the circulating library. . . . For many years the thief, or thieves, had been content with detective stories . . . but when the thief changed his literary tastes and started on expensive volumes of memoirs and travel books, it was generally felt that Something had to Be Done . . . —Richard Hull, Keep It Quiet 46
The untimely demise of a cranky club member means blackmail and other unpleasantness in Richard Hull's Keep It Quiet (1935).

Whitehall Club secretary Ford thinks that he has had a narrow escape from scandal when the distracted chef confesses that he may have accidentally poisoned the perpetually irritating Mr. Morrison and the man's doctor agrees to go along with a verdict of heart failure. But soon typed missives begin to arrive indicating that someone else knows what has happened. They first dictate to the inefficient Ford, somewhat comically, about how the club should be run and then take a more sinister turn.

Keep It Quiet is filled with a delightfully sly humor and is a quick, breezy read at 191 pages.

Richard Henry Sampson (1896–1973) left the exciting(?) world of chartered accountancy for mystery writing after he read Malice Aforethought by Francis Iles (aka Anthony Berkeley Cox). Under the pseudonym Richard Hull, he is best known for his debut novel, The Murder of My Aunt (1934), although he produced some 14 additional novels after it plus one short story ("Mrs. Brierly Supplies the Evidence," Evening Standard, repr. EQMM Apr. 1952). Evidence of his sense of humor may be found in My Own Murderer (1940) where he named a villain Richard Henry Sampson.

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