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Clason, Clyde B

Page history last edited by Jon 9 years ago

Clyde B Clason (1903-1987), an American writer, was born in Denver Colorado in 1903. He worked in advertising as a copywriter and editor. His main series detective is Theocritus Lucius Westborough. Clason was a locked room mystery fan. He specialises in trying to baffle the reader with intricate and elaborate plots.


Mike Grost on Clyde B Clason


Clyde B. Clason is a writer in the SS Van Dine tradition, as Jon L. Breen pointed out in his article on Clason in Twentieth Century Mystery Writers. One can point out some of the similarities between Clason and Van Dine in detail. Clason's ten mystery novels center on intellectual, cultivated sleuth Theocritus Westborough. Westborough is a historian, and like Van Dine's detective Philo Vance, has a fabulous knowledge of world art and culture. Westborough is an amateur sleuth who often collaborates with the police to solve crimes, just like Vance. As in the Vance books, the police are honest, good natured but low brow, and their common man argot is used for some comedy. As in Van Dine, both the amateur sleuth and the police are full of gusto, vigorously investigating every aspect of the crime. Clason's crimes, like Van Dine's, often take place among collectors and connoisseurs, and the homes of the suspects are often filled with private museums. Clason, like Van Dine and many other writers of his school, was sympathetic to racial minorities, and his books contain protests against racism. In both writers, the anti-racist theme is linked to a respectful, knowledgeable treatment of world art, with equal admiration being given to art created by all races.


There are formal similarities between Clason's novels, and Van Dine's, as well. As in Van Dine, the story develops into an elaborate, complex pattern, every nook and cranny of which is packed with detail. It is this over all storytelling which is the richest element in the books. There are elaborate floor plans in both writers, and much emphasis on the movements of characters around crime scenes. These movements are worked into the over-all pattern of the plot. There is also a great deal about the backgrounds of the characters, and their current romantic liaisons. Clason, like Van Dine, is a literate writer, with an elaborate, sometimes ornate prose style.


Many of Clason's works can be read online via HathiTrust: http://catalog.hathitrust.org


Some are available in print from Rue Morgue Press, who also provide an extensive biography: http://www.ruemorguepress.com/authors/clason.html





The Fifth Tumbler (1936)

The Death Angel (1936)

Blind Drifts (1937)

The Purple Parrot (1937)

The Man From Tibet (1938)

The Whispering Ear (1938)

Murder Gone Minoan (1939) aka Clue to the Labyrinth

Dragon's Cave (1939)

Poison Jasmine (1940)

Green Shiver (1941)


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