Friday, May 17, 2013

A Stop at Willoughby: Murder in Bermuda (1933) and Murder of the Honest Broker (1934), by Willoughby Sharp

William Willoughby Sharp (1900-1956) came from a prominent New York family.  His father, also named William Willoughby Sharp, moved to New York from Norfolk, Virginia, where the Sharps had lived for generations (the Sharps claim descent from a certain James Sharp, who was living in Jamestown in 1621 and served in the House of Burgesses in the 1630s).

William Willoughby Sharp I was the senior partner in a brokerage firm when he was struck by a taxicab while crossing a street and killed.  A year before his father's death in 1926, William Willoughby Sharp II, a marine in the Great War and a Harvard graduate, formed his own brokerage firm, the forbiddingly named Harde & Sharp.  However, only three years later Sharp retired from business and moved to Bermuda, where he lived until 1935, when he returned to New York.

Muriel Manners Sharp
see Sharpville
Sharp married Muriel Manners, a Ziegfeld chorus girl, and the couple settled in Sands Point, Long Island, the wealthy enclave that inspired the setting of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby.

In 1936, the Sharps had a son, predictably named William Willoughby Sharp.  The third Sharp became a conceptual art guru in the 1960s and 1970s.  When he died in 2008, he received a sizable obituary in the New York Times.

William Willoughby Sharp II is rarely mentioned today (even accounts of his son's eventful and quirky life show much more interest in Muriel Manners Sharp's chorus girl background), but he was an interesting individual in his own right.

What concerns us most here, of course, is Sharp's brief venture into publishing and mystery writing.  For two years he was in partnership with publisher Claude Kendall, the man, much discussed here lately, who published Sharp's two detective novels, Murder in Bermuda (1933) and Murder of the Honest Broker (1934).

I will have full reviews of these two excellent detective novels up on the blog later today.


  1. Eerie Coincidence #76: Two days ago I received in the mail a copy of a book THE CASE OF THE FRIGHTENED FISH that is set in...Bermuda! Patrick ought to make note of this and add it to the list of the shenanigans that are keeping the ghost of Harry Stephen Keeler very, very busy.

    P.S. I love that dust jacket artwork, but (yes, I already checked) no copies available online for sale with w/ DJ. One to add to a wish list.

  2. Nowadays, it's hard to find some of the books, let alone with jackets! I envy the previous generation of collectors.