Tenant for Death Paperback – 21 Sep 2009
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'In Inspector Mallett, Cyril Hare has given us a detective who will bear watching.' - -- New York Times
: 'The way in which an air of probability is combined both with clear, terse narrative and with a good deal of subtle, urban atmosphere proves the extreme skill of the writer' - -- The Spectator --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Cyril Hare was the pseudonym for the distinguished lawyer Alfred Alexander Gordon Clark. He was born in Surrey, in 1900, and was educated at Rugby and Oxford. A member of the Inner Temple, he was called to the Bar in 1924 and joined the chambers of Roland Oliver, who handled many of the great crime cases of the 1920s. He practised as a barrister until the Second World War, after which he served in various legal and judicial capacities including a time as a county court judge in Surrey.
Hare's crime novels, many of which draw on his legal experience, have been praised by Elizabeth Bowen and P.D. James among others. He died in 1958 - at the peak of his career as a judge, and at the height of his powers as a master of the whodunit.
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Top customer reviews
It's an all too familiar (these days) tale of a City financier, whose crooked schemes (using a group of companies to move assets around, disguising the underlying paucity of valuable assets) finally attract the wrong sort of attention - and he flits to avoid his creditors.
However, he doesn't seem to have gone far or fast enough, as his body is found strangled next day in the home of a mysterious 'Mr James' - who has now seemingly vanished. The mix of suspects includes the victim's wife, his mistress, her husband, the estate agent who let the house, a fellow board member, and a recently freed partner in one of Ballantine's previous scams.
Cyril Hare's detections are competent, but the great attraction is the writing; all the novels show a polished and urbane wit that makes them a delight.
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To supplement his somewhat limited salary in the years immediately prior to WWII, Judge Gordon Clark, under the pseudonym Cyril Hare, tried his hand at mysteries. His first story, Tenant for Death (1937), was called "an engaging debut" by the respected critic, Jacques Barzun, and received praise from the Spectator for the "extreme skill of the writer".
Tenant for Death is well-crafted, offers interesting characterizations, and provides a credible surprise ending. This is a good story, and yet Cyril Hare's later mysteries like Suicide Excepted (1939), When the Wind Blows (1949), An English Murder (1951), and Untimely Death (1958) are perhaps even better. For readers familiar with Inspector Mallett, this competent Scotland Yard investigator first appears in Tenant for Death.
Cyril Hare's mysteries have been occasionally reissued, and with some persistence can be found in used book stores and library book sales, or purchased online. My copy of Tenant for Death is a slightly yellowed, 1982 Harper & Row Perennial paperback (ISBN 0060805706). In 1991 HarperCollins released a reprint paperback edition under the same ISBN. In 2001 House of Stratus reprinted Tenant for Death in a larger, soft cover format (ISBN 1842326538). Good luck in locating Cyril Hare's first Inspector Mallett mystery.