Tory Historian's blog - Cyril Hare

Posted by Tory Historian Sunday, September 04, 2011 ,

If ever there was a conservative writer of detective stories it was Cyril Hare, a.k.a. Alfred Alexander Clark, a County Court judge, even if an aunt of his seems to have been a socialist politician. (Well, a Labour politician, at least, one of the large group of wealthy non-working class socialists, ever present in the Labour Party.)

Cyril Hare's novels are based on his own experiences in various parts of the legal system and, even, the Ministry of Economic Warfare, a fascinating bit of wartime bureaucracy, which figures in the novel With a Bare Bodkin.

The detective novels and stories are highly amusing but are, quintessentially English in their depiction of a changing society and country. Oddly enough, the least successful of the novels, in Tory Historian's opinion is called An English Murder but that might be caused by the absence of Hare's two serial detectives, Inspector Mallett, the jovial police officer with a Gargantuan appetite and Francis Pettigrew, who first appears in the best of the books, Tragedy at Law and is shown to be an unhappy and unsuccessful barrister, somewhat in the Sidney Carton mode. Happily, Mr Pettigrew is not executed. Instead, he develops a flair for solving difficult criminal puzzles and turns up again in several short stories and novels, even managing to marry a young lady at the end of With a Bare Bodkin. Contrary to his own and our expectations, the marriage is a happy one, as we see in subsequent books.

Today, as The Bunburyist notes, is Cyril Hare's birthday. And let us not forget that Cyril Hare's works have been reprinted in the last few years by Faber and Faber.


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