George Bellairs was the pseudonym of Harold Blundell (1902-1985), a Manchester banker with close connections with the University of Manchester. He was born in Lancashire and married Gwladys Mabel Roberts in 1930. In the late 1950s he moved to the Isle of Man and became a full-time writer. Some of his detective novels are set on the Isle of Man. His series character was featuring Inspector (later Superintendent) Thomas Littlejohn. Many books appear from their titles to have an ecclesiastical theme. He also wrote four books using the pseudonym Hilary Landon.
“One of the subtlest and wittiest practitioners of the simon-pure British detective story,” New York Times
“Sure-fire, that’s Bellairs.” New York Herald-Tribune
Littlejohn on Leave (1941)
The Four Unfaithful Servants (1942)
Death of a Busybody (1942)
The Dead Shall be Raised (1942) aka Murder Will Speak
Turmoil in Zion (1943) aka Death Stops the Frolic
The Murder of a Quack (1943)
He’d Rather be Dead (1945)
Calamity at Harwood (1945)
Death in the Night Watches (1945)
The Crime at Halfpenny Bridge (1946)
The Case of the Scared Rabbits (1947)
Death on the Last Train (1948)
The Case of the Seven Whistlers (1948)
The Case of the Famished Parson (1949)
Outrage on Gallows Hill (1949)
The Case of the Demented Spiv (1949)
The Case of the Headless Jesuit (1950) aka Death Brings in the New Year
Dead March for Penelope Blow (1951)
Death in Dark Glasses (1952)
Crime in Lepers’ Hollow (1952)
A Knife for Harry Dodd (1953)
Half-Mast for the Deemster (1953)
Corpses in Enderby (1954)
The Cursing Stones Murder (1954)
Death in Room Five (1955)
Death Treads Softly (1956)
Death Drops the Pilot (1956)
Death in High Provence (1957)
Death Sends for the Doctor (1957)
Corpse at the Carnival (1958)
Murder Makes Mistakes (1958)
Bones in the Wilderness (1959)
Toll the Bell for Murder (1959)
Death in the Fearful Night (1960)
Death in Despair (1960)
Death of a Tin God (1961)
The Body in the Dumb River (1961) aka Murder Masqerade
Death Before Breakfast (1962)
The Tormentors (1962)
Death in the Wasteland (1963)
Surfeit of Suspects (1964)
Death of a Shadow (1964)
Death Spins the Wheel (1965)
Intruder in the Dark (1966)
Strangers Among the Dead (1966)
Death in Desolation (1967)
Single Ticket to Death (1967)
Fatal Alibi (1968)
Murder Gone Mad (1968)
Tycoon’s Death-bed (1970)
The Night They Killed Joss Varran (1970)
Pomeroy, Deceased (1971)
Murder Adrift (1972)
Devious Murder (1973)
Fear Round About (1975)
Close All Roads to Sospel (1976)
The Downhill Ride of Leeman Popple (1979)
An Old Man Dies (1980)
Against the background of fascinating Provence, a fantastic case is solved. Chief Inspector Littlejohn is sent to France to make informal enquiries about a motor accident. But his job is not easy, for he finds himself amongst the sombre, secretive inhabitants of St. Marcellin, a dying French village in the mountains of High Provence. Dominated by the aristocratic Monsieur le Marquis, the village obstructs his every move. But they had under-estimated the kindly, courteous Littlejohn.
Death in High Provence will be available soon as an ebook.
On the Night that Joss Varran was expected home after a spell in Wormwood Scrubs, his body was found dead in a ditch right opposite the cottage in which he lived with his sister in the silent marshes in the north of the Isle of Man. Cheif Superintendent Littlejohn, of Scotland Yard, became involved in the case through Varran’s recent imprisonment in a London goal.
Joss Varran had been a sailor on a container ship between Ramsey and Preston and somewhere in his voyages had been caught up in events which had made him a haunted man, not so much by the police as by his parters in crime. From all appearances, he had endeavoured to shake them off by getting himself gaoled!
His complicated efforts were in vain and his murder presented a picturesque case and a strange locale in the Manx curraghs for Inspector Knell, of the Manx police, and his friends Littlejohn and the Venerable Caesar Kinrade, Archdeacon of Man.
The Night They Killed Joss Varran is available soon as an ebook.
One morning, a haystack is seen to be on fire at the desolate farm of Great Lands and when the police go to investigate, they find the bodies of Harry Quill, the owner, and his wife lying on the doorstep. He is dead and she is unconscious. Mrs. Quill, an invalid, had apparently burned the stack to give the alarm. She died in hospital later without recovering consciousness.
Chief Superintendent Littlejohn and Inspector Cromwell become involved in the murder case because they are already engaged on a nation-wide investigation concerning the Black Lot, a gang of criminals raiding isolated farms. However, on the very night of Quill’s death, the Black Lot are arrested in the North of Scotland.
The Quill family is old and widespread, a closed shop to all except its members, who know all its secrets and discuss them freely behind closed doors, but are silent about them in public. They are headed by Aunt Clara, a very formidable old lady whom they all respect and greatly fear. Littlejohn finds himself face to face several times with Clara Quill and has several battles of wits with her and her crafty lawyers before he finally finds out who killed Harry.
Death in Desolation is available soon as an ebook.
Miss Melody Johnson, an old unmarried lady, dies in the strange village of Plumpton Bois, once busy and prosperous, now almost deserted and supervised by its ambitious police constable, Green, and its easy-going, cynical postman, Fowler. Miss Johnson leaves her family home, Johnsons Place, to her sole surviving relative who cannot wait to inspect the property, but in doing so, is murdered by an intruder hiding in the cellar.
The police officials in the nearby country town cannot agree about the motive for the crime. Some say a casual burglary, other something more subtle, since although Miss Johnson was reputed wealthy, her declared estate was next-to-nothing.
What had happened to her fortune? The Chief Constable sent for Scotland Yard to settle the argument.
Superintendent Littlejohn and Inspector Cromwell set about the mystery in their usual painstaking way and bring to light some strange facts both about the Johnson family, and other inhabitants of Plumpton Bois.
Littlejohn draws the many threads closer, but another sudden death threatens to break the strands and provide the killer with a way of escape.
Intruder in the Dark will be available soon in ebook.
During a police conference in Geneva, Alec Cling, a detective assigned to the personal safety of Sir Ensor Cobb, British Minister of Security, is murdered and his body found in a car parked in a rose garden. The car happens to be hired by Superintendent Littlejohn, of Scotland Yard. Cling was a lone wolf when off duty. Saturnine and silent, he seemed to hate everyone and everything, except children, old people and dogs. It was obvious that the roots of the case extended to London as well as in Switzerland; Littlejohn was assigned to the London end. The trail led through a seedy hotel in Geneva to a mental clinic in the hills and thence to London Airport, where there was quite a commotion before Littlejohn finally cleared up the investigation.
Death of a Shadow is available soon as an ebook.
GEORGE KEELAGHER, head of a stock-broking firm in the city, thrusts himself on his nephew Waldo and the latter’s wife Averil, who are holidaying in the south of France in their new caravan. Not long after their arrival on the Riviera, Waldo finds Uncle George dead in the wasteland of the Estérel, near Cannes. In panic Waldo and Averil pack the body in the back of their car and take it to the police in Cannes.
Whilst they are reporting, car and body are stolen from in front of the police station.
When the body is at last found, hidden in the wasteland, it is clearly a case of murder.
Waldo turns for help to Superintendent Littlejohn who is on holiday nearby, and with the latter on the case, enquiries soon shift to Great Missenden, where Uncle George lived, and to the city, where all is not well with the stock-broking business.
Together, Littlejohn and Cromwell, now promoted to Inspector, find themselves caught up in one of their most complicated and unorthodox cases, in which the characters of the suspects count for as much as their actions.
Death in the Wasteland will be available soon as an ebook.
“The place is dead now at night. It’s like it was in wartime. As soon as night falls, you don’t know what’s going to happen.” That is what the Mayor of Carleton Unthank said to Superintendent Littlejohn when he arrived there to investigate three murders, obviously the work of a homicidal lunatic.
Death in the Fearful Night will be available soon as an ebook.
The curraghs in the Isle of Man are, as a rule, eerie and silent after dark; but that silence is shattered for the villagers of Mylecharaine one black night in April by a loud explosion followed by the violent ringing of the church bell. The Vicar, the Revered Sullivan Lee, is discovered praying beside the murdered body of Sir Martin Skollick, the squire of Myrescogh. By the side of the body lies a sporting gun with both barrels fired.
These are the bare outlines of the events which led to Archdeacon Kinrade summoning his old friend Superintendent Littlejohn of Scotland Yard back to the Isle of Man. There, with the help of Inspector Knell of the Manx C.I.D., Littlejohn almost brings the Squire of Myrescogh to life again-his past misdeeds, his enemies, and his lady friends in particular, all come to light, before Littlejohn has the answer to the mystery that started the church bell tolling across the curraghs that fateful night.
Toll the Bell for Murder is available soon as an ebook.
When Samuel Cheever, a shady dealer, goes to France to buy antiques and never returns, people in his home-town of Francaster begin to ask “What’s happened to Cheever?” And when the local M.P. asks a similar question in the House, it is thought to be time to send Superintendent Littlejohn to France to make enquiries. Cheever’s bones are discovered in the Camargue, the wilderness around the Rhône delta, and Littlejohn again finds himself, with Sergeant Cromwell for company, among his friends of the Mediterranean police. They work amicably together, as usual, but the trail of Cheever leads to many strange places and the Superintendent does a lot of travelling here and there and meets many queer and colourful characters before the case is solved. The charming people, the sunshine, the wine and food of the sweet land of France are all here and, of course, there is Cromwell, too, enthusiastic and modest as ever, trying out his French for the first time and meeting with mixed results.
Bones in the Wilderness will be available soon as an ebook.
The many admirers of Sergeant Cromwell, faithful assistant and friend of Superintendent Littlejohn, will learn with dismay that, whilst attending the funeral of his uncle Richard, in the pretty Cheshire village of Rushton Inferior, he is shot through the head and his life is despaired of. The fact that Cromwell is quite unknown in Rushton raises the questions of whether or not the crime was an accident or deliberately done.
Littlejohn, casting all other tasks aside, hurries north to the hospital where his sergeant is lying and there the surgeon tells him that the crime was committed by the smallest bullet he has ever seen. A shot from a pop-gun, in fact!
The famous Superintendent settles down in Rushton Inferior, gets to work, and there unravels a series of stories and incidents, some comic, others tragic in the extreme, which finally lead to a solution of the case. In the course of the investigation, the most courteous of all detectives is accused of bad-manners and rudeness, but the convicted criminal in the end writes to him from prison and thanks him for being a true friend!
This edition of Murder Makes Mistakes is available soon as an ebook.
Upper Square is the last stronghold of snobbery in Abbot’s Caldicott, a dying little metropolis in East Anglia, and the remnants of queer old families reside there. Doctor Beharrell, a prominent physician, is found murdered in a secret room in his home at Bank House, in the square, and Superintendent Littlejohn, warned before it has been discovered that the crime has been committed, goes to investigate. Before he leaves Caldicott with the case solved, a lot of strange past history comes to light and the repressions and inbreeding of the upper ten of Caldicott produce some queer twists of hatred and madness. Littlejohn, whom David Holloway calls ‘ the most courteous of all fictional detectives,’ finds all his good manners are needed in dealing with this strange affair among a crowd of characters who live in an atmosphere of days that are gone.
Available for purchase through the George Bellairs Website.
When Ambrose Barrow’s body was found, the face smeared with theatrical make-up and a false mustache pasted neatly over the lip-it was soon clear that the murder couldn’t have been committed by the pathetic little “spiv” who reported it. When Inspector Littlejohn took the case, it became even clearer that a lot of people couldn’t, and wouldn’t, tell the whole truth.
What did Inspector Faddiman, of the local police, have to conceal when he talked about resigning from the force rather than pursue the case? Why did Mrs. Barrow hide the real truth about the Whistler etching on her wall? Why was Dr. Martindale-grown careless about locking the poison cabinet-drinking so much? And the wealthy Fennings, living in the mansion ruled by the ailing, tyrannical Miles Fenning-what was their secret? Inspector Littlejohn’s sleuthing took him among a flamboyant group of amateur actors, into the haunts and homes of some fascinating eccentrics, and out to the Fenning mansion, where Mary Fenning played Bach and fenced with her brother-in-law, James.
Again the author of Death on the Last Train and The Case of the Famished Parson supplies his many fans with all the ingredients for a session of pleasure and puzzlement.
Available for purchase now through the George Bellairs Website.
Ned Bunn wasn’t a popular member of the community of Enderby, and there were people who had wished him dead. But when he was murdered on the doorstep of his own shop there was a terrible outcry. When Inspector Littlejohn of Scotland Yard investigates the case, there are some startling revelations of Bunn and his family, before the final tracking down of the murderer.
Available for free through the George Bellairs Website.
Death – brutal and sudden – comes to Dr. James Macintosh, the Bishop of Greyle, in the opening pages of this new Bellairs mystery. How to explain the savage murder of so gentle and unworldly a soul? Did he know too much about the shady denizens of Cape Marvin, the seaside resort that is the scene of his demise? Or did the reason have something to do with the strange family he had left behind in Medhope?
Above all, why was the Bishop’s body so emaciated that apparently death by violence won out by only a few days over death by starvation?
Available for purchase through the George Bellairs Website.