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Bentley, E(dmund) C(lerihew)

(British, 1875–1956)

Bentley was for more than twenty years chief leader writer on the Daily Telegraph, and a regular contributor to the humorous magazine, Punch. He invented the clerihew, a bizarre biographical four-line nonsense verse. In 1910 he decided to write a detective story that would be an antidote to the high seriousness of Sherlock Holmes and his followers. Trent's Last Case was published in 1913. Philip Trent, investigative journalist, is called upon to solve the mystery of the murder of tycoon Sigsbee Manderson. In a series of brilliant deductive manœuvres he comes up with the logical solution, which proves to be entirely wrong. The plotting is ingenious, the tone by turns light and ironic. This was the first successful marriage of mirth and murder. Bentley wrote two further novels featuring Trent, neither of which matched his debut.

Edmund Crispin, Colin Watson  VM

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionBooks & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (A-Bo)