Peter Cheyney was a highly successful British author of hard-boiled crime novels ‘way back in the forties. Forgotten now. Good luck finding his stories except as channelled through the fevered imaginations of the spy novelists Ian Fleming and Len Deighton who I guess were big fans. (Come to think of it, good luck finding any Len Deighton thrillers.)
We purchased this battered and yellowed copy of Dark Street Murders at The Mystery Bookstore in Westwood, L.A.
Anyways, Cheyney was hot stuff for a while there. Like today’s Michael Connelly, he started out as a crime reporter, toiling long years for little pay, but during those days of poverty he kept detailed clippings files on all the cases he covered. Converting those files into lurid bestsellers made him wealthy.
He wrote his novels by dictating to a secretary — as you can see for yourself in this weird little film made by British Pathé: PETER CHEYNEY DICTATES A MURDER.
Film buffs will recognize the name of one of his popular detective tuff guys: Lemmy Caution. Jean-Luc Godard used the character in his film Alphaville, une Étrange Aventure de Lemmy Caution.
On the last page of the Avon (“Look for the Shakespeare Head Imprint!”) paperback scanned above, an advertisement for Rex Stout’s Mystery Magazine boasts that it “presents such masters of MYSTERY and detection as: Rex Stout, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, Carter Dickson, Cornell Woolrich, Dorothy L. Sayers, etc. etc.”
Well done, Mr. Stout! Every single one of those writers (including your illustrious self) are still in print after sixty-three years.
Remember: If you want to be an Easter Egg…