John Bude;Martin Edwards;E.C.R. Lorac;British Library;Patricia Wentworth;Agatha Christie;Dorothy L. Sayers

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Francis Vivian was born Arthur Ernest Ashley in 1906 at East Retford, Nottinghamshire. He was the younger brother of noted photographer Hallam Ashley. Vivian laboured for a decade as a painter and decorator before becoming an author of popular fiction in 1932. In 1940 he married schoolteacher Dorothy Wallwork, and the couple had a daughter.

After the Second World War he became assistant editor at the Nottinghamshire Free Press and circuit lecturer on many subjects, ranging from crime to bee-keeping (the latter forming a major theme in the Inspector Knollis mystery The Singing Masons). A founding member of the Nottingham Writers’ Club, Vivian once awarded first prize in a writing competition to a young Alan Sillitoe, the future bestselling author.

The ten Inspector Knollis mysteries were published between 1941 and 1956. In the novels, ingenious plotting and fair play are paramount. A colleague recalled that ‘the reader could always arrive at a correct solution from the given data. Inspector Knollis never picked up an undisclosed clue which, it was later revealed, held the solution to the mystery all along.’

Francis Vivian died on April 2, 1979 at the age of 73.

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“Lomas was poisoned, shaved after death, and placed in the river. He is full of whisky and the post-mortem examination will undoubtedly prove that cocaine was in the alcohol. The murderer worked on him with a lavish hand, one so lavish that it may eventually prove to be his undoing.”

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If Lesley Dexter had not been a snob her husband might have lived out his three-score-and-ten years.

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“Death has no manners as a general rule. In this instance he was a reformed character, and knocked twice before entering.”

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“Inspector, it’s—it’s dastardly!”

“Mrs. Huntingdon,” said Knollis, “your choice of words is admirable!”

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Madeleine Burke is prepared to swear that she was Dr. Challoner’s last patient on Tuesday evening, and that he was alive and in good spirits when she bade him good night.

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He shone the torch into the depths of the well. There was water at the foot of the shaft. Something dark and mis-shapen was huddled against the brickwork.

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“He’s dead all right. Taken him clean through the heart. It’s murder, Rose!

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Frank Jennings was a keen murder-mystery fan, but no one was more surprised than he to find himself mixed up in a murder mystery in real life, and that the victim was the wife of one of his own neighbours.

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“Where are you going?” asked Knollis, as Brother Ignatius pushed back his chair.

“To try to prevent a murder.”

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Grayson tipped back his head, and stared at the ceiling. Herby was certainly not liked, but who on earth, apart from himself, hated him sufficiently to think of murder

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