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May 2019



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A Negelcted Crime Writer: E R Punshon

Comes a Stranger is the best sort of book: the kind you want to read all the time. Sit down with a cup of coffee? Read another chapter. Ooh, just one more, and so on. This is the more remarkable because the book has been out of print for seventy years. In his day, E R Punshon was a popular writer admired by Dorothy L Sayers. His best known books are the series about Bobby Owen, an unusual hero because he works for Scotland Yard but as a Detective-Sergeant rather than a DCI.

The Stranger of the title is death. Can it be mere coincidence that as soon as Owen, known to be ‘a Scotland Yard detective’ appears on the scene, the murders begin? It’s almost as if someone wants old mysteries solved. He is visiting his fiancée, Olive, who is staying with Miss Kayne, an old family friend and owner of the world famous Kayne library. Started by Miss Kayne’s father and run by the mysterious librarian Broast, the library is the repository of some of the world’s rarest books; yet Miss Kayne seems to hate it. Even more strange is that almost her first words to Owen are that she once committed ‘the perfect murder’. The bodies begin to pile up, there are suspects galore and the book gallops towards a Götterdämmerung-style climax. An afterword by the crime historian Curtis Evans explains how part of the story (minus the murders) was based on a true case.

Comes a Stranger will be out, with four other Punshon novels, on 7th December and they’ll be cheap as chips. All praise to Dean Street Press for reissuing these books and thanks for sending me a copy of Comes a Stranger. I’ll be reading the rest as well.


The book sounds right up my street. I have almost finished reading The Signature Of all Things by Elizabeth Gilbert which I've very much enjoyed. I'm not sure now if that was one of your recommendations.
Yes, I did recommend the Elizabeth Gilbert book.

If you like cosy crime with a touch of melodrama, Bobby Owen is probably for you! All the bibliographical detail gives that particular book added interest.
Ah, it was you. It's made a nice change from my usual gory crime and horror books :)

I've pre-ordered the E R Punshon book. I am managing to get through my reading list so feel I can add one or two more books :)


I've been reading about Punshon's books but, until recently, the only one easily available was The Bittermeads Mystery from Manybooks for Kindle. I've been over to Amazon (USA) and they have twelve that are only 0.99 each. So I've stocked up!

Re: Punshon

Well done! These Dean Street Press books are only available for pre-order here at the moment. At 99p each, I plan to get the rest.
Sounds good! I'm really enjoying the wave of reissued vintage crime novels lately - suddenly it's so easy to get them again, it's lovely.
I thought this Punshon was much better than anything I've read in the British Library Crime Classics reissues.

Sorry you're so poorly :-(



Just this morning, I read in the publication Old-Time Detection, a letter from a reader who wrote: "Right now I'm rather under the spell of the work of E.R. Punshon. And then this evening I come here, and read his name again. A name I had not heard before. I think that means I must look into his work!!

Re: Punshon

How interesting! I certainly enjoyed the book I read but of course I can't guarantee that you would :-)


Re: Punshon

I'm now on my fourth Bobby Owen book, and loving this series!

Re: Punshon

I'm glad of that!