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Punshon, ER

Page history last edited by Jon 14 years, 2 months ago

Ernest Robertson Punshon (1872-1956) was an English playwright who created a series detective, graduate police officer Bobby Owen. He also wrote as H Robertson Halkett.


The Bittermeads Mystery is available from Project Gutenberg.


ER Punshon is one of the most shamefully neglected writers of detective fiction. His ability to construct labyrinthine plots that keep the reader fascinated but not confused is rivalled only by John Dickson Carr, with whom he shares a powerful imagination, a gift of conveying atmosphere and setting, and a most ingeniously fertile mind, adept at devising clues and situations. Yet his work is not only exemplary detective fiction, but studies of character, of the catalyst that drives an ordinary human being to commit the ultimate crime. In their emphasis on bizarre psychology, fantastic (but logical and convincing) plots, and the ability of the past to influence the present (whether it be in the form of past crimes or literary or artistic treasures), his work resembles a combination of H.C. Bailey, Gladys Mitchell, G.K. Chesterton and Michael Innes.


Inspector Carter and Sergeant Bell are the detectives in five early books, but his principal detective is Bobby Owen, who rises from the rank of police constable (in Information Received, 1933) to Commander of Scotland Yard by the later books.


Nick Fuller



Scotland Yard Detective-Constable Bobby Owen is an Oxford educated young man who has been forced to take up police work by the Depression. He seems like a cross between the Scotland Yard heroes loved by the Crofts school, and the sort of gentlemanly figures found in writers like Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, and Ngaio Marsh. Edgar Wallace also included a young policeman with an upper crust background in Sergeant Sir Peter (1929 - 1930).


Unlike the unglamorous Sgt. Bell, Owen is handsome, well educated and socially sophisticated. He is much more of what Englishmen of the time would consider a romantic lead. He also seems younger, and much less experienced as a detective than the highly intelligent Sgt. Bell.


Owen has a superior, too: Superintendent Mitchell. Unlike Bell's obnoxious Chief Inspector Carter, who is always grabbing credit for his work, Mitchell is a decent person, although a bit intimidating at times. Mitchell is also openly skeptical of the police system, more than Owen is, and often gets off humorous one-liners containing Punshon's satirical thrusts.


Mike Grost



The Mystery of Lady Isobel (1907)

The Spin of the Coin (1908)

The Glittering Desire (1910)

Hidden Lives (1913)

Arrows of Chance (1917)

Solitary House (1919)

Dunslow (1922)

The Bittermeads Mystery (1922)

The Unexpected Legacy (1929)

The Blue John  Diamond (1929)

Proof, Counter Proof (1931)

The Cottage Murder (1931)

Genius in Murder (1932)

Truth Came Out (1933)

Information Received (1933)

Death Among the Sunbathers (1934)

Crossword Mystery (1934)

Mystery Villa (1934)

Death of a Beauty Queen (1935)

Death Comes to Cambers (1935)

The Bath Mysteries (1936)

Mystery of Mr Jessop (1937)

The Dusky Hour (1937) aka Murder in the Chalk Pits

Dictator's Way (1938)

Comes a Stranger (1938)

Suspects - Nine (1939)

Murder Abroad (1939)

Four Strange Women (1940)

Ten Star Clues (1941)

The Dark Garden (1941)

Diabolic Candelabra (1942)

The Conqueror Inn (1943)

Night's Cloak (1944)

Secrets Can't Be Kept (1944)

There's a Reason for Everything (1945)

It Might Lead Anywhere (1946)

Helen Passes By (1947)

Music Tells All (1948)

The House of Godwinsson (1948)

So Many Doors (1949)

Everybody Always Tells (1950)

The Secret Search (1951)

The Golden Dagger (1951)

The Attending Truth (1952)

Strange Ending (1953)

Brought to Light (1954)

Dark is the Clue (1955)

Triple Quest (1955)

Six Were Present (1956)


Novella and Short Stories

The Ruby Bracelet (1920)

Too Late for his Hat and Coat (1925)

The Last Ascent (1931)

The Unknown Quantity (1931)

The Haunted Chessmen (1931)

A Study in the Obvious (1936)

Who Was It? (1939)

The Secret of the Chessboard (1939)

The Double Six Domino (1940)

Making Sure (1950)

Good Beginning (1950)

Three Sovereigns (1950)

Find the Lady (1950)

Dead Man's Hand (1951)

The Tide Runs Strongly (1952)

A Dead Man Laughs (1953)

The Four Liars (1955)


As H Robertson Halkett

Where Every Prospect Pleases (1933)

Documentary Evidence (1934)


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