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Hugh Collier Books In Order

Publication Order of Hugh Collier Books

One By One They Disappeared (1929) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Night of Fear (1931) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Strange Case of Harriet Hall (1936) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Author Katherine Renoir penned the “Hugh Collier” series of mystery novels that she published under the name of Moray Dalton. Like the stand alone mysteries Renoir published, these novels are considered golden age mysteries.

The series began publication in the year 1929, when “One By One They Disappeared”, which was her sixth published novel, was released. The fourteenth and final book of the series, which was called “Death of a Spinster”, was released in the year 1951.

The series of novels stars a police inspector from Scotland Yard named Hugh Collier (who is an intelligent and young however shy). Also starring in the books is a private investigator named Hermann Gilde, who is a most persistent and a percipient man. This pair of investigators became popular with the readers.

Just like Charles Dickens, who used his work as a platform for social commentary, Dalton explored themes of class and gender during the thirties and forties. All of the books featured evocative description, enough surprising plot twists, and strong characters.

Upon Katherine Renoir’s death in the year 1963, her novels slipped into obscurity for some time. Fortunately for fans of mysteries, many of her books have been reprinted in the years since. This is to allow new readers to pick up her books and enjoy them.

Her being with publisher Sampson, Low seems to have hampered her career, and left her behind as far as notoriety is concerned. For some readers, her absence from being an acknowledged crime fiction writer is a major omission. It seems she had a rather sufficient independent means to keep herself in comfort so she may not have needed to give her writing career a “push”. She could have worked as a writer in order to please herself, seeing as how she was a privileged English gentlewoman.

For some readers, she did her best work during the thirties, not to mention writing some of the best British mysteries in the business. Dalton’s writing is of the same caliber of the other British Queens of Crime, if not even better. She was even writing crime novels of rather high literary quality, years before Dorothy L. Sayers was penning her novel of manners mystery stories. Lesser writers at the time were moving on to Collins Crime Club as well as greater fame.

“One By One They Disappeared” is the first novel in the “Hugh Collier” series, which was released in the year 1929. Elbert J. Pakenham of New York City is one of just nine survivors of the sinking of the ship called Coptic. Not including Jehosaphat, his black cat. The Mr. Pakenham made his other fellow survivors joint beneficiaries in his will, after his nephew just died. It seems that somebody is unwilling to share the fortune, as the heirs quickly die under some mysterious circumstances.

Mr. Pakenham goes missing himself, and Inspector Collier from Scotland Yard suspects there is some dirty work. A trap is laid that horribly wounds his best friend at the Yard, Superintendent Trask, it makes Collier certain about his suspicions.

Into his net are pulled Edgar Mallory (a Bohemian English artist), Corina Lacy, a charming young lady, and Wilfred Stark, her cousin and trustee. There is also Gilbert Freyne (a gentleman of rather dubious reputation) and Gladys (his sister-in-law), and Count Oliveri (an Italian nobleman of depleted estate and ancient lineage). Collier is going to need a bit of unexpected feline assistance before the case is finally solved.

This story is stylishly written. You feel like you have the killer all figured out, but by the end you find that you were totally and entirely wrong. Collier is an engaging character, a guy that has a heart and is efficient. This book was very easy for readers to get through.

“The Night of Fear” is the second novel in the “Hugh Collier” series, which was released in the year 1931. A Christmas gathering made up of both old and young in a great country house in England. During a masquerade. The lights are turned off for a game of hide and seek. All goes quiet, before a man cries to have the lights come on. The lights get turned on and reveals Hugh Darrow, who has been blind since the War, who stands in the main hall. He has fresh blood dripping off his hands and is getting all over his Pierrot costume.

Hugh tells a story of having found a dead guy, who was stabbed right through the heart, and lying in a curtained window embrasure that is next to the one that he was hiding in. The murdered guy proves to be one of the visitors, named Stallard, and someone that wrote mystery stories.

This is another detective tale that is well executed. The book is perfectly complex, fairly-plotted with a bit of romance tossed in for good measure. Readers checking out these novels by Moray Dalton have become fans and are going to be looking into finding more of her works.

“The Strange Case of Harriet Hall” is the seventh novel in the “Hugh Collier” series, which was released in the year 1936. Harriet Hall, who lives in her remote cottage just outside the village of Larnwood, may not have been everybody’s cup of tea. But why did somebody feel they had to kill her the night before Amy, Harriet’s young niece came?

Why did the likable Deene family apparently be so in thrall to Harriet? The innocent have every reason to be grateful that Collier was involved. Especially given the local Chief Constable’s incompetent behavior. As Collier continues to investigate more, the more the case gets strange. The guilty become punished.

The book’s plot is well-constructed, and have a few interesting elements that are usually absent in Golden Age mysteries. There is a nice mixture between the surprises and things that you can work out. The mystery in this is memorable, and the story is well told, it makes readers want to seek more out by this author. This is an author that has been overlooked for far too long, and this book is a reason why.

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