Sunday, January 5, 2020

Call the Yard! by Hugh Clevely, 1930

First Place books
About the author: Hugh Clevely (1898-1963), who wrote also under the pseudonym of Tod Claymore, was born in Bristol, England. He obtained a pilot's license, was active in the RAF and finished the war as wing-commander. Clevely was one of the dozens of authors who wrote for the story paper The Thriller in the 1930s. Clevely wrote more than thirty titles for this influential paper and in addition several novels with serial characters, among them John Martinson “the Gang-Smasher" and Inspector Williams of Scotland Yard. As Tod Claymore, he wrote another nine mysteries, all with a series character named Tod Claymore. After the war Clevely contributed about a dozen titles to the hugely popular Sexton Blake series. (Condensed from this bio at

Major characters:
  • Philip Cavanagh, doctor and attorney; our protagonist
  • Corinna Lesley, artist, his love interest
  • Valerie Morris, a lodger of Corinna Lesley
  • Roland Piquar,  a lodger of Corinna Lesley
  • Ralph Montgomery Vincent, a flabby bohemian art collector
  • Stephen Tracey, friend of Philip Cavanagh
  • Jimmy McCrow, dancer and lounge lizard
  • Garbrielle Fleur (dead prior to the story)
  • Chief Inspector Williams
Locale: England

Synopsis: Philip Cavanagh is a medical doctor and attorney, practicing only law. He has a casual friendship with artist Corinna Lesley. Corinna lets a flat and takes in two lodgers: Valerie Morris (heroin addict and party girl) and Roland Piquar (checkered past).

No sooner has Piquar moved in when he makes a pass at Corinna. She rebuffs him and retreats to her room. When she comes out again, she finds him stabbed in the hallway. She tries to treat him and calls Philip Cavanagh for help, who determines he is dead. She claims she didn't kill him, but there was no one else in the apartment.

A photo found in his wallet of Garbrielle Fleur bears a family resemblance, she had died previously from a heroin overdose. Cavanagh takes matters into his own hands to solve the murder and prove Corinna's innocence. This leads him to the seedy Apollo Club and the world of drug dealers.

Review: This was a disappointment. It was almost a DNF (Did Not Finish), but halfway through I moved to skim mode to see how the almost-locked-room murder was done.

Cavanagh is a rough and tumble character, clearly borrowed from Clevely's writings for the 1930's pulp magazines; and is not believable. His solution to every issue is to beat someone up, kidnap them, toss them out of moving vehicles, and force information out of them - not in line with either of his alleged professions. 

The romantic sub-plot between him and Corinna shows what a cad he really is. He tricks her into accepting his marriage proposal. Then he invites her to his place - not for a romantic interlude - but so she can prepare his dinner.

Oh, yes, the murder ... the murderer is revealed at the end (no surprise there), but the specifics are not mentioned. How the murderer got in and did the deed remains a mystery.

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