Thursday, November 14, 2019

Willoughby Sharp, Claude Kendall and Murder

Madison Hotel
where Claude Kendall was murdered
Six years ago Coachwhip reprinted two vintage mysteries by stockbroker turned mystery writer Willoughby Sharp, Murder in Bermuda (1933), and Murder of the Honest Broker (1944), for which I wrote introductions.  Sharp's two detective novels were published in the United States by onetime Golden Boy publisher Claude Kendall, who for a few years in the Thirties made a great hit with such salacious and controversial books as Tiffany Thayer's Thirteen Men (1930) and its inevitable follow-up, Thirteen Women (1931), the latter of which John Norris reviewed. Such books made Kendall rich for a time, but soon his success faded and his eponymous publishing company failed in 1936.  Researching further into Claude Kendall's life, I found that he was murdered under mysterious circumstances the next year.

Recently Kendall's unsolved murder received two short paragraphs in an excellent book, Indecent Advances: a Hidden History of True Crime and Prejudice before Stonewall, by James NYU scholar James Polchin.  (I hope to post a review here soon.)  Given this renewed attention to Claude Kendall, I thought the occasion called for a new article about him and Sharp (who briefly became his publishing partner as well), which I wrote a few months ago and contributed to CrimeReads.  They have just published it under the title "The Playboy and the Publisher: A Murder Story."  Go here to read.  I hope you find it interesting.

Incidentally, you may recall that Claude Kendall's name popped up in the Henry von Rhau saga which I have recently been chronicling here.  I will have the last part of that story posted this week.

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