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Berkeley, Anthony

Page history last edited by Jon 11 years, 11 months ago

Anthony Berkeley CoxSource: Wikipedia 


Anthony Berkeley Cox (July 5, 1893 - 1971) was a British crime fiction author, born in Watford, England. He was educated at University College, London, and married Helen Macgregor in 1932. He served in the British Army during World War I. Berkeley wrote under several names, including gloomy 'psychological' thrillers under the name of Francis Iles. Other pseudonyms included 'Monmouth Platts'.


Berkeley was quite prominent amongst crime writers of his time and was associated with others in this field, including Christie, Sayers and Chesterton, in founding the Detection Club. The mysteries written as 'Anthony Berkeley' are more or less straight detective fiction, featuring one of two detectives: Roger Sheringham, an egotist whom Berkeley deliberately made as unpleasant as he could, and a dithery but much nicer elderly man, Mr. Chitterwick. Berkeley's The Poisoned Chocolates Case is a tour-de-force of Golden Age detection, with no fewer than six separate solutions proposed and argued for before the final conclusion is reached.


One of the books which Cox wrote as Francis Iles, Malice Aforethought (1931), may have contained the precursor of James Thurber's Walter Mitty (1941). Iles's 'Walter Mitty' was a Dr. Bickleigh. Both Mitty and Bickleigh were dominated by strong wives. But whereas Mitty desperately needed looking after (and his fantasies were, simply, denial of this reality), Bickleigh had married his wife for money and status and had to tolerate her dominance until he took steps to dispose of her (hence the book's title).


Mike Grost on Anthony Berkeley


I am not a big fan of Anthony Berkeley. His multiple-solutioned The Poisoned Chocolates Case (1929) is more facile than really imaginative. Berkeley's key approaches derive directly from E.C. Bentley. Bentley's Trent's Last Case (1913) has two solutions, and shows its detective failing to solve the mystery, with the true solution being only revealed by chance after the detective offers a false (if ingenious) explanation. Berkeley used this plot pattern repeatedly in his books, with numerous variations: both multiple solutions and failed detectives abound. Berkeley would go on to collaborate directly with Bentley, and Father Ronald Knox, in plotting the last three chapters of Behind The Screen (1930), a Detection Club round robin.


Berkeley had a real gift for parody. His contribution to Ask a Policeman (1933), another Detection Club collaboration, is a wicked spoof of Dorothy L. Sayers and Lord Peter Wimsey. "The Policeman Only Taps Once" (1936) is a hilarious takeoff on James M. Cain.




The Layton Court Mystery (1925)

The Wychford Poisoning Case (1926)

Roger Sherringham and the Vane Mystery (1927) aka The Mystery at Lover's Cove

The Silk Stockings Murders (1928)

The Poisoned Chocolates Case (1929)

The Piccadilly Murder (1929)

The Second Shot (1930)

Top Storey Murder (1931) aka Top Story Murder

Murder in the Basement (1932)

Jumping Jenny  (1933) aka Dead Mrs. Stratton

Panic Party (1934) aka Mr. Pidgeon's Island

Trial and Error (1937)

Not to be Taken (1938) aka A Puzzle in Poison

Death in the House (1939)

The Avenging Chance & Other Stories (2004)


as Francis Iles

Malice Aforethought (1931)

Before the Fact (1932) aka Suspicion (in the movie-tie in & Photoplay editions)

As for the Women (1939)


as A Monmouth Platts

Cicely Disappears (1927)


as AB Cox

Mr Priestley's Problem (1927) aka The Amateur Crime


with members of the Detection Club

The Floating Admiral (1931)

Ask a Policeman (1933)

Six Against the Yard (1936)

The Scoop and Behind the Screen (1983)


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