Trent’s Last Case by E.C. Bentley, is certainly not a forgotten book, even nearly a century after its first appearance. It is a real landmark n the history of detective fiction, much admired by Christie, Sayers and the critics, and it paved the way for the Golden Age. But Trent Intervenes qualifies for inclusion in Patti Abbott’s series. It is a collection of stories that was published in 1938, although I think the stories were actually written over quite a lengthy period before that date.
Bentley had published Trent’s Own Case, co-authored with H.Warner Allen, a writer of fairly nondescript mysteries, but this was a far less memorable book than his brilliant debut. But several of the stories in Trent Intervenes are pretty good, and quite a number have been anthologised over the years, sometimes a number of times.
My favourites include ‘The Genuine Tabard’, ‘The Inoffensive Captain’ and ‘The Clever Cockatoo’. Philip Trent is an amiable character, an artist, journalist and urbane man about town – where are his modern equivalents?! He investigates rather languidly at times, but Bentley was a capable writer, and even the slighter tales are perfectly readable.
Trent didn’t appear again in a book of his own, but Bentley did turn out a ‘thriller’ some years later. It was called Elephant’s Work, and it was a story featuring amnesia. Which was fitting, really, as it probably does deserve to be forgotten!