Book Notification

Cyril Hare Books In Order

Book links take you to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn money from qualifying purchases.

Publication Order of Inspector Mallett Books

Tenant for Death (1937)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death is No Sportsman (1938)Description / Buy at Amazon
Suicide Excepted (1939)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Inspector Mallett and Francis Pettigrew Books

Tragedy at Law (1942)Description / Buy at Amazon
He Should Have Died Hereafter / Untimely Death (1958)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Francis Pettigrew Books

With a Bare Bodkin (1946)Description / Buy at Amazon
When the Wind Blows / The Wind Blows Death (1949)Description / Buy at Amazon
That Yew Tree's Shade / Death Walks the Woods (1954)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Magic Bottle (1946)Description / Buy at Amazon
An English Murder (1951)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Short Story Collections

Death Among Friends and Other Detective Stories (1959)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

English Country House Murders(1988)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Christmas Card Crime and Other Stories(2018)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Edinburgh Mystery: And Other Tales of Scottish Crime(2023)Description / Buy at Amazon

Cyril Hare (Sep 1900- August 1958) was the pseudonym used by an English author of children’s books, mystery & thrillers, and short stories Alfred Alexander Gordon Clark. He was born and raised in Mickleham, Surrey, the son of Henry Herbert Gordon, a local businessman in the wine and spirit trade. He was educated at Rugby School and St Aubyn’s Rottingdean. At New College, Oxford, Hare majored in History and graduated with a first class honors degree. He then majored in law and in 1924 he was called to the Bar at Middle Temple.

The author’s pen name was a combination of Hare Court- his work place and Cyril building where he resided after his marriage to Barbara Lawrence, the daughter of Sir William, 3rd Baronet in 1993. As a young man during the WWII Cyril Hare toured as judge marshal experiences illustrated in Tragedy at Law and between 1942 and 1945, the author worked at the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Cyril Hare became a published author in 1937 when Tenant for Death the first book in Inspector Mallett series was released. However, he is best known for his book Tragedy at Law based on his legal expertise and in which a character named Francis Pettigrew who appears in four other books. The book has never been out of print, and it’s considered one of the best whodunits in the legal realm. Tragedy at Law appeared in the Top Hundred Crime Novels of All Times.

Majority of Cyril short stories were written for the London Evening Standard. Among them, Sister Bessie which tells the story of the torture of a extortion victim and all the crime he commits in efforts of freeing himself from his blackmailer. The Story of Hermione in which a character grows filthy rich at the expense of convenient deaths of several relatives.

Cyril Hare was a Detention Club member. He suffered from tuberculosis after the WWII and died at his home near Box Hill, Surrey in 1957.

Tragedy at Law

Tragedy at Law is the first book in Francis Pettigrew series by Cyril Hare. The novel narrates what happens to High Court Judge named Hereward Barber as he embarks on a tour of duty “Southern Circuit” during the early days of the Second World War. His tour of England’s Southern Circuit normal, the court calendar is filled with the normal cases ranging from criminal charges to civil complaints, and it looks like a typical run with his long-time rival Francis Pettigrew.

The two were once rivals in love- they both loved the same woman (Hilda), but Barber finally emerged the winner in the “love war,” and now Hereward Barber uses his position to put his rival in his place as often as possible.

But then strange things begin happening, poisoned chocolates and anonymous letters. Loose stair railing and night attacks on Barber’s wife and an attempt on judge’s life. A man Barber had earlier sentenced is out of prison, and Barber suspects that the man is behind the strange letters and the attacks. Added to this mix one night when intoxicated, the judge runs down a prominent pianist who threatens to take the judge to court over the matter.

Things begin to look windswept both for the judge and his woman both financially and the possibility of the judge losing his position on the bench if the pianist case can’t be settled out of court. Through the attacks and the suicide attempt by Barber who doesn’t want to ruin his public image/reputation, his beloved wife Hilda manages to save him from the unknown attacker and himself. Until Barber’s last court appearance when he is killed on the course steps under the watch of the City Police and his wife. Inspector Mallett is presented with an endless list of suspects including Pettigrew himself. But the clever Pettigrew produces an uncertain point of law that will direct the way to the solution.

Drawing his experiences from the line of duty, Cyril Hare crafts a mystery that draws clear to the finer points of the law. The story uses a variety of Point of Views, but the dominant one is Derek Marshall. Their characterization is wonderfully done. Hilda is a fantastic woman- you don’t often see such strong personalities in crime fiction. Here is a lady who was called to the bar and is clearly brave and more charming than the husband. She has got fears of her own, some secrets she is hiding and deserves all the page time the author gives her.

Then there is Sheila, the woman Derek comes to love so much and the only other woman Cyril dedicates much attention to. The story starts off slow, but the pace picks up shortly in the opening chapter when Justice Barber gets a threatening letter and a box of poisoned chocolates. Much of the action in the story is seen through the eyes of Derek Marshall, a man considered unfit for war service and hence acts as judge’s right-hand man.

Tenant for Death

Tenant for Death is Cyril Hare’s first book ever published and the Inspector Mallet series debut novel. It is a police procedural featuring the main character Inspector Mallett investigating the murder of a devastated financier. The inspector starts with a very little knowledge of the victim and builds upon the rumors and what is known until he finally figures out both the motive of the murder and the murderer.

The novel is well plotted and well written. The characters presented in the story are all three-dimensional, and a vividly described with superb use of language. The author has an understated but powerful sense of humor. The mystery is quite complex and well done, and Inspector Mallet with the help of Sergeant The vivid description of London suburb in the first few pages is proof of Cyril Hare’s rare talent. What you will love the most about this series is how the author departs from the usual Golden Age mysteries way of writing and introduces us to new and more modern criminals with motives from the world of finance.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Cyril Hare

Leave a Reply