When my friend Rupert Heath of Dean Street Press died a month ago, he had five Moray Dalton titles in the hopper. I had worked diligently with him on the introductions (and afterword notes in some cases) throughout December 2022 and had gone over the proofs he sent me a few days after Christmas. This quintet of books was slated for publication in April of this year, but there had been fear that because of Rupert's tragic death they might not actually be published as planned. However, the good news is that they have indeed made it into print as scheduled: a fitting tribute to Rupert's fine and important work over the last decade in vintage mystery publishing. They are also fine mysteries indeed, in my opinion.
Here follow the covers for these, the final DSP volumes, the last of my work with Rupert, which rewardingly commenced nine years ago in 2014:
The first three are Hugh Collier detective novels, while the last two are non-series mysteries set primarily in Italy. The Mystery of the Kneeling Woman deals with highly topical Thirties issues of rearmament and the shadow of impending war with Germany and introduces Hugh Collier's love interest, Sandra Fleming, a single mother with a bookish young son named Toby. This pair also appears in Death in the Dark, with Toby playing a particularly important role. Death in the Forest has several chapters set in South America before settling down into a classic-style, though also highly unique, village mystery.
The non-series The Murder of Eve and Death in the Villa are highly original crime novels, with murder mysteries yet also all sorts of exciting, terrible events. Both would be eminently filmable, particularly Villa, which is set in Italy during the waning days of the Mussolini regime. The second half of the novel had me desperately turning pages to find out what would happen to the characters I had really gotten attached to over the course of events. I was rather reminded of the French wartime television series A French Village.
All in all a terrific set of books by one of the most original and talented English crime writers of the Golden Age of detective fiction. I had planned with Rupert to reissue another set of five Daltons later this year or early next year, including the last Hugh Colliers, followed by another set of five; but this is not to be now, alas. I am planning other arrangements. In the meantime, let me for your convenience list below all the Moray Dalton crime titles, identifying them definitively as series and nonseries and listing the ones which have been reprinted by DSP.
MORAY DALTON MYSTERIES
Hugh Collier Series
1. One by One They Disappeared 1929 DSP
2. The Night of Fear 1931 DSP
3. The Belfry Murder 1933 DSP
4. The Belgrave Manor Crime 1935 DSP
5. The Strange Case of Harriet Hall 1936 DSP
6. The Mystery of the Kneeling Woman 1936 DSP
7. Death in the Dark 1938 DSP
8. Death in the Forest 1939 DSP
9. The Price of Silence 1939 planned
10. The Art School Murders 1943 DSP
11. The Longbridge Murders 1945 planned
12. The Condamine Case 1947 DSP
13. The Case of the Dark Stranger 1948 planned
14. Inquest on Miriam 1949 planned
15. Death of a Spinster 1951 planned
1. The Kingsclere Mystery 1924
2. The Shadow on the Wall 1926
3. The Black Wings 1927
4. The Stretton Darkness Mystery 1927
5. The Body in the Road 1930 DSP
6. Death in the Cup 1932 DSP
7. The Wife of Baal 1932 planned
8. The Harvest of Tares 1933 planned
9. The Black Death 1934 planned
10. The Edge of Doom 1935 planned
11. The Case of Alan Copeland 1936 DSP
12. The Murder of Eve 1945 DSP
14. Death at the Villa 1946 DSP
14. The House of Fear 1951 planned
I wish you happy reading and please give Rupert and Amanda some thoughts when you peruse them.