Friday, May 24, 2013

The Evolution of the Mystery Genre

Trent’s Last Case

by

E. C. Bentley
Trent's Last Case is actually the first novel in which gentleman sleuth Philip Trent appears. The novel is a whodunit with a place in detective fiction history because it is the first major sendup of that genre: Not only does Trent fall in love with ones of the primary suspects—usually considered a no-no—he also, after painstakingly collecting all the evidence, draws all the wrong conclusions.

Convinced that he has tracked down the murderer of a business tycoon who was shot in his mansion, he is told by the real perpetrator over dinner what mistakes in logical deduction he has made in trying to solve the case. On hearing what really happened, Trent vows that he will never again attempt to dabble in crime detection. Trent’s Last Case is listed #33 by the Mystery Writers of American on the Top 100 Mystery Novel's of All Time. The Kindle edition is free on Amazon.


E. C. Bentley (July 10, 1875– March 30, 1956)

Edmund Clerihew Bentley was born in London, and educated at St Paul's School and Merton College, Oxford.. Bentley worked as a journalist on several newspapers, including the Daily Telegraph. His first published collection of poetry, titled Biography for Beginners (1905), popularized the clerihew form; it was followed by two other collections, in 1929 and 1939. His detective novel, Trent's Last Case (1913), was much praised, numbering Dorothy L. Sayers among its admirers, and with its labyrinthine and mystifying plotting can be seen as the first truly modern mystery. It was adapted as a film in 1920, 1929, and 1952. The success of the work inspired him, after 23 years, to write a sequel, Trent's Own Case (1936). There was also a book of Trent short stories, Trent Intervenes. Several of his books were reprinted in the early 2000s by House of Stratus.


From 1936 until 1949 Bentley was president of the Detection Club and contributed to both of their radio serials broadcast in 1930 and 1931 and published in 1983 as The Scoop and Behind The Screen. Phonographic recordings of his work "Recordings for the Blind" are heard in the movie Places in the Heart, by the character Mr. Will.

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