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Considered by many to be the first modern mystery novel, Trent's Last Case introduces the gentleman sleuth Philip Trent, a freelance reporter and investigator. Trent becomes involved in the case of the murder of millionaire American financier Sigsbee Manderson, slain while on holiday in England. During the course of his investigation, Trent falls in love with one of the pr Considered by many to be the first modern mystery novel, Trent's Last Case introduces the gentleman sleuth Philip Trent, a freelance reporter and investigator. Trent becomes involved in the case of the murder of millionaire American financier Sigsbee Manderson, slain while on holiday in England. During the course of his investigation, Trent falls in love with one of the primary suspects. And while he collects evidence and becomes convinced that he has cracked the case, he turns out to be well off the mark.


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Considered by many to be the first modern mystery novel, Trent's Last Case introduces the gentleman sleuth Philip Trent, a freelance reporter and investigator. Trent becomes involved in the case of the murder of millionaire American financier Sigsbee Manderson, slain while on holiday in England. During the course of his investigation, Trent falls in love with one of the pr Considered by many to be the first modern mystery novel, Trent's Last Case introduces the gentleman sleuth Philip Trent, a freelance reporter and investigator. Trent becomes involved in the case of the murder of millionaire American financier Sigsbee Manderson, slain while on holiday in England. During the course of his investigation, Trent falls in love with one of the primary suspects. And while he collects evidence and becomes convinced that he has cracked the case, he turns out to be well off the mark.

30 review for Trent's Last Case, with eBook

  1. 5 out of 5

    Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂

    4.5★ I loved this book, & only one major plot hole (& a too long finale) stopped me giving it 5★! I thought this was a thirties mystery and found out half way through my read that it was a groundbreaking novel from 1913! Journalist E C Bentley originally wrote it as a parody & the tone varies wildly throughout the book - detective, comedy, farce, high tragedy? Bentley never seems quite sure & the bleaker moments often come as a shock. This should wreck my enjoyment, & no one is 4.5★ I loved this book, & only one major plot hole (& a too long finale) stopped me giving it 5★! I thought this was a thirties mystery and found out half way through my read that it was a groundbreaking novel from 1913! Journalist E C Bentley originally wrote it as a parody & the tone varies wildly throughout the book - detective, comedy, farce, high tragedy? Bentley never seems quite sure & the bleaker moments often come as a shock. This should wreck my enjoyment, & no one is more surprised than me that it doesn't. I found the character of the newly widowed Mabel Manderson one of the most compelling I have read in detective fiction. An innocent femme fatale. & when you think you have read (view spoiler)[the twist & wonder where on earth the book is going for the next two chapters, Bentley twists again. I was totally fooled. (hide spoiler)] &, although I thought (as recently as yesterday) that was a waste of my reading time, it does give some interesting background material to this novel.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Perhaps the first "cosy" detective story. Has the distinction of being lauded by Dorothy Sayers and derided by Raymond Chandler. The plot is clever, and still works today, even if the setting seems alien to the modern reader. Extra points from me because E.C. Bentley was my great grandfather.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore

    Philip Trent, a fairly successful artist, who also has a remarkable talent for solving the most baffling of murders and writing dispatches on them for the Record, is called in by the paper when the great financial giant, Sigsbee Manderson is found dead in mysterious circumstances. Was it suicide or murder, and even if the latter, what explains all the rather unusual little details associated with the case? With a limited number of suspects (including an unseen possibility that very much reminded Philip Trent, a fairly successful artist, who also has a remarkable talent for solving the most baffling of murders and writing dispatches on them for the Record, is called in by the paper when the great financial giant, Sigsbee Manderson is found dead in mysterious circumstances. Was it suicide or murder, and even if the latter, what explains all the rather unusual little details associated with the case? With a limited number of suspects (including an unseen possibility that very much reminded me of Sherlock Holmes) and not very many of those with a clear motive, Trent certainly seems to face one of the most complex puzzles that he ever has. I enjoyed this book which had an interesting plot with plenty of surprises including a twist at the end I certainly didn’t see coming. In addition to the mystery, the title itself was rather intriguing to me since it turned out quite early on that Trent was rather a young man. Why then was this his last case? That too was a surprise I didn’t quite guess right. Though of course, the series does have 3 books, and this probably isn’t Trent’s last case and certainly not the last he appears in! Looking forward to reading the others in the series sometime.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    somewhere between a 4 and a 5, so we'll call it a high 4. In John Curran's introduction to this edition, he refers to Trent's Last Case as "one of the most famous milestones in the genre." He quotes EC Bentley from his autobiography, Those Days (1940) where he writes "Some time in the year 1910 it occurred to me that it would be a good idea to write a detective story of a new sort..." and, "among the dozens of detectives" (long dominated by and modeled after Sherlock Holmes) currently filling maga somewhere between a 4 and a 5, so we'll call it a high 4. In John Curran's introduction to this edition, he refers to Trent's Last Case as "one of the most famous milestones in the genre." He quotes EC Bentley from his autobiography, Those Days (1940) where he writes "Some time in the year 1910 it occurred to me that it would be a good idea to write a detective story of a new sort..." and, "among the dozens of detectives" (long dominated by and modeled after Sherlock Holmes) currently filling magazine pages in a market that was "thriving," as Curran notes, "the stage was set" for just that. Enter Philip Trent, artist, sometimes journalist and Oxford graduate, who will take on the case of the murder of Wall Street "Napoleon" Sigsbee Manderson. He'll solve the case quickly, but wait. The twisty plot is the true centerpiece of this book, and as I said to someone recently, I've read so much crime fiction that I feel sometimes like I know every plot possible to the point where I often become bored. However, Trent's Last Case came with a totally unexpected ending that made me say a not-so-quiet "bravo" in appreciation for a job well done. I can recommend this book with no qualms at all -- just please bear in mind when it was written (just coming out of the Edwardian era) when it comes to some rather objectionable content. It is still a worthy read, even for the most modern mystery and crime fiction lovers. And one more thing: I LOVE these Harper hardcover reprints!! much, much more here http://www.crimesegments.com/2018/09/...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cphe

    A Golden Age mystery with many, many twists and turns. Phillip Trent, a well known amateur sleuth is called in to investigate the murder of millionaire businessman Sigbee Manderson. What starts off as a seemingly straight forward murder mystery develops into a convoluted and perplexing mystery. There are many twists and turns before all is revealed with a totally unexpected outcome. A strong mystery component, an engaging main character and a definite "cosy" vibe to the novel with a mystery to en A Golden Age mystery with many, many twists and turns. Phillip Trent, a well known amateur sleuth is called in to investigate the murder of millionaire businessman Sigbee Manderson. What starts off as a seemingly straight forward murder mystery develops into a convoluted and perplexing mystery. There are many twists and turns before all is revealed with a totally unexpected outcome. A strong mystery component, an engaging main character and a definite "cosy" vibe to the novel with a mystery to enjoy. My only quibble it did tend to drag a bit in places.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Abigail Bok

    E. C. Bentley is a British mystery writer of the golden age, though of far less repute than authors like Dorothy Sayers and Margery Allingham. In this novel (published in 1913), an American mogul named Manderson has been murdered and his body discovered under various contradictory circumstances in his own garden. A London newspaper editor calls on a friend, Philip Trent, to go sleuthing around and report back to him on the crime. Trent is neither a detective nor a journalist but an artist with a E. C. Bentley is a British mystery writer of the golden age, though of far less repute than authors like Dorothy Sayers and Margery Allingham. In this novel (published in 1913), an American mogul named Manderson has been murdered and his body discovered under various contradictory circumstances in his own garden. A London newspaper editor calls on a friend, Philip Trent, to go sleuthing around and report back to him on the crime. Trent is neither a detective nor a journalist but an artist with a flair for solving mysteries; conveniently enough, he is friends with a man who is the uncle of Manderson’s wife, a connection that gives him unfettered access to the dead man’s property and associates. In the early going we see a lot of Trent’s examinations of the evidence and suspects, but we learn little about what he is thinking or why he finds certain things significant. This feels almost like a cheat, though it didn’t last long enough to annoy me. Eventually we start to be let into his thought processes. Trent is a lively soul, full of literary allusion and play—though the dilemmas that face him are serious enough, including a mad crush he develops at first sight of the victim’s widow. He comes relatively quickly to a point of conviction about who did the crime, how, and why; but a resolution of the mystery at 50% in my Kindle edition obviously cannot stand scrutiny. The second half of the book was more interesting to me, as Trent had to backtrack and rethink. I found the writing quite uneven, as if the author were trying on the styles of different genres and seeing what suited. But the mystery itself and the path to its resolution absorbed my attention (perhaps until the last two pages, which seemed more of a writerly convenience than a plausible end). I had fun reading this book but probably would not read more of Bentley’s fiction.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    Bentley, E. C. (Edmund Clerihew). (1913). ****. I remember trying to read this widely praised detective novel about forty years ago, but wa put off by the style of writing used by the author. Forty years later, I’m better able to recognize temporal differences and preferences in style and successfully finished the novel. Bentley wrote the book as a reaction to the types of detective novels of the time, where the protagonist was not fully developed, but was recognized by some of his more personal Bentley, E. C. (Edmund Clerihew). (1913). ****. I remember trying to read this widely praised detective novel about forty years ago, but wa put off by the style of writing used by the author. Forty years later, I’m better able to recognize temporal differences and preferences in style and successfully finished the novel. Bentley wrote the book as a reaction to the types of detective novels of the time, where the protagonist was not fully developed, but was recognized by some of his more personal habits, i.e., Sherlock Holmes used opium and played the violin, etc. In this novel our detective, Philip Trent, an English crime correspondent, stumbles onto a murder (or suicide) of a wealthy American tycoon at an English manor while he was on holiday. Trent’s newspaper gives him the go-ahead to investigate, which he does with the cooperation of Inspector Murth from Scotland Yard. Murth soon disappears from the novel. I suspect he began to get in the way of the author’s plot. Trent assiduously studies the clues in this murder and finally comes up with a scenario that fits all of the events. It turns out, however, that he is totally wrong. In the last chapter of the book, we are treated to the real answers to the case, spoken by the killer himself – an event that causes Trent to avow that this is his last case. Recommended.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sketchbook

    Mon dieu, there's a Fr chambermaid named Celestine ! A tycoon frames his personal assistant, a device later used in 1000s of movies. It comes from this 1913 best-seller. It might be interesting if he was pissed off cos of mutual homosex, but such dirtys, we know, didnt exist in 1913 England. Well, it never existed in England at all. The tycoon is just in a vex. I understand The Vex! Friends have oft said I need a Good Vex to get my day going, and -- yes, it's true. It can even start with GR. A Mon dieu, there's a Fr chambermaid named Celestine ! A tycoon frames his personal assistant, a device later used in 1000s of movies. It comes from this 1913 best-seller. It might be interesting if he was pissed off cos of mutual homosex, but such dirtys, we know, didnt exist in 1913 England. Well, it never existed in England at all. The tycoon is just in a vex. I understand The Vex! Friends have oft said I need a Good Vex to get my day going, and -- yes, it's true. It can even start with GR. A vex can be better than sex. This sexless "mystery" will put you off afternoon tea forever. "I shall be at your disposal, sir," sez a footman to handsome detective. Footman, I divine, is dying to get fucked. Book & author are amusing for the background how-it-came-to-be writ. Otherwise: Allez-vous-en, as Celestine might pout.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    This book, which was published in 1913, gets three stars for the mystery (and one of those is for the satisfying final twist). It gets 1/2 star for reputedly being the first "golden age" British mystery. It gets another 1/2 star because the great Dorothy L Sayers was a friend (and fan) of the author. All of these factors combined to make me like it a lot. I had never heard of Bentley or of his detective Phillip Trent until I recently read The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers: 1899-1936: The Making o This book, which was published in 1913, gets three stars for the mystery (and one of those is for the satisfying final twist). It gets 1/2 star for reputedly being the first "golden age" British mystery. It gets another 1/2 star because the great Dorothy L Sayers was a friend (and fan) of the author. All of these factors combined to make me like it a lot. I had never heard of Bentley or of his detective Phillip Trent until I recently read The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers: 1899-1936: The Making of a Detective Novelist In April 1936 Sayers wrote to Bentley about his subsequent novel featuring Phillip Trent, Trent's Own Case. She writes: "Trent himself, I rejoice to see, hasn't altered a scrap, and reappears with all his old humour and charm, and with vigour unimpaired by his long rest on the shelf. He is, you know, the only modern detective of fiction I really ever want to meet (except, possibly [G K Chesterton's] Father Brown, and even he may be too much on the religious tack, taken in large quantities. I am always ashamed of how much my poor Peter owes to Trent, besides his habit of quotation." Peter Wimsey does indeed owe something to Phillip Trent, although possibly not as much as Sayers suggests. I love Wimsey, so I am pre-disposed to love Trent. He is indeed a very attractive character: an artist, prone to quoting poetry, witty, self-deprecating, keenly observant and inclined to whistle when concentrating. I gather that he only appears in two novels and some short stories. Having read this novel, I rather wish he had had more outings. Recommended for golden age fans. Possibly not of much interest to anyone else.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Derek Davis

    Odd to give 5 stars to a mystery whose first half seemed stilted and somewhat formulaic. Yet if it seems formulaic, in part it's because, having been written in 1913, it invents part of the formula. But then comes the second half. Unfolding one of the most complicated plots ever put down in writing, it ends with a triple switch that, at the same time, takes you full circle back to a suggestion of motive at the first meeting of Trent and another major character. But what makes it truly sterling is Odd to give 5 stars to a mystery whose first half seemed stilted and somewhat formulaic. Yet if it seems formulaic, in part it's because, having been written in 1913, it invents part of the formula. But then comes the second half. Unfolding one of the most complicated plots ever put down in writing, it ends with a triple switch that, at the same time, takes you full circle back to a suggestion of motive at the first meeting of Trent and another major character. But what makes it truly sterling is that each plot switch is motivated entirely by character, never by mechanics. These are living, breathing human beings whose reactions to the immediate situation lead to the increasing (and necessary) complication. Apparently Bentley wrote this novel (which, despite the title, is the first book featuring Trent--there were only three, the other two years later) as a reaction to what he saw as the humorless, almost inhuman qualities in Sherlock Holmes. Trent, an artist, part-time journalist and amateur sleuth, looks at the world with high good humor until the middle-range of this case, which drags him into a love affair that leaves him drained and disillusioned. Remarkably, too, despite his acute deductive ability and success in getting the basic facts right, he draws a string of wrong conclusions that the last third of the book meticulously unravels in a series of revelations that ring with truth and believable human emotion. Personal aside: I picked up this book (for Kindle) because of a comment my father made after reading it 60 years ago. Having finished it myself, I realize that I had misunderstood my father's comment in almost exactly the way that Bentley's characters misunderstood each other's motives. It makes for a neat personal package.

  11. 4 out of 5

    DeAnna Knippling

    A slow opening with huge chunks of twisty prose. But ever so enjoyable afterwards. Reads pretty much like a modern mystery novel, for all that it was written in 1913.

  12. 4 out of 5

    John

    A couple of days ago I was writing about the (very good and unjustly neglected) 1952 screen adaptation of this book -- starring Michael Wilding, Margaret Lockwood, Orson Welles and Miles Malleson -- for my Noirish site when it occurred to me that I'd never read the source novel. (To be more accurate, I think that about forty years ago I started but abandoned it.) So, since I was interested to compare the book with the movie, off I trotted to Project Gutenberg. Ruthless international financier Sig A couple of days ago I was writing about the (very good and unjustly neglected) 1952 screen adaptation of this book -- starring Michael Wilding, Margaret Lockwood, Orson Welles and Miles Malleson -- for my Noirish site when it occurred to me that I'd never read the source novel. (To be more accurate, I think that about forty years ago I started but abandoned it.) So, since I was interested to compare the book with the movie, off I trotted to Project Gutenberg. Ruthless international financier Sigsbee Manderson is discovered, shot through the head, in the grounds of his English pied a terre, White Gables. Alongside the police investigation, monied artist and amateur sleuth Philip Trent probes the case, soon falling head-over-heels for the dead man's widow, Mabel. When he believes he's worked out who was the killer and why, he gives Mabel a manuscript of his reconstruction of what happened, telling her that it's up to her whether she wants to pass it on to the newspaper that commissioned him to investigate and report on the case or, for fear of her reputation, simply destroy the account. Time goes by and Trent, his relationship with Mabel advancing, with her permission decides to confront the individual he believes killed the tycoon. That individual takes the very same facts that Trent used for his reconstruction and shows that, with the addition of a couple of facts that Trent could not have known, a rather different -- and apparently true -- explanation emerges. Trent is convinced, but that night at dinner he discovers the third and this time real explanation. In the latter stages of the novel, Bentley makes clear he has something of an agenda. As he has demonstrated, circumstantial evidence is by its very nature unreliable and potentially very misleading, and should never be relied upon exclusively when convicting a suspect, no matter how guilty that suspect might seem. This is of course true, but it may have seemed a mighty novel concept back in 1913 -- as it indeed still does in far too many courts of law today. I can understand why I abandoned the book way back when. The first half or more is dull as ditchwater, with Trent swanning around like Peter Wimsey with a bad attack of verbal diarrhea. The latter part is far more interesting, as we witness the workings out of the three rival solutions to the case. There's some gratuitous racism that leaves a very nasty taste in the mouth. All in all, Trent's Last Case is a novel that's a must-read if you're interested in the history and evolution of detective fiction, in which it has a key role. Otherwise, there are plenty of more entertaining rivals around of similar vintage. ====== UPDATE 6/3/2017 TO ADD: My discussion of the 1952 movie has now been posted on Noirish here.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Free download available at Project Gutenberg. From BBC Radio 4 Extra: Sigsbee Manderson is both renowned and hated throughout the financial world. One day he's found murdered... Amateur sleuth Philip Trent heads to the country to investigate. It's a case that will prove to be his last, and one he certainly won't forget... First published in 1913, EC Bentley's detective novel adapted by Alan Downer. Philip Trent ...... Martin Jarvis Mabel Manderson ...... Helena Breck Marlowe ...... Simon Hewitt Bonner . Free download available at Project Gutenberg. From BBC Radio 4 Extra: Sigsbee Manderson is both renowned and hated throughout the financial world. One day he's found murdered... Amateur sleuth Philip Trent heads to the country to investigate. It's a case that will prove to be his last, and one he certainly won't forget... First published in 1913, EC Bentley's detective novel adapted by Alan Downer. Philip Trent ...... Martin Jarvis Mabel Manderson ...... Helena Breck Marlowe ...... Simon Hewitt Bonner ...... Brian Hewlett Cupples ...... Manning Wilson Inspector Murch ...... Alan Downer Martin ...... Stephen Thorne Sir James Molloy ...... Sean Barrett Mrs Morgan ...... Joanna Wake Figgis ...... Paul Gregory Eddison ...... David Goodland Williams ...... Stuart Organ Dr Stock ...... Simon Cuff Director: Gerry Jones. First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1986. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Bettie☯

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m00... Description: Sigsbee Manderson is both renowned and hated throughout the financial world. One day he's found murdered... Amateur sleuth Philip Trent heads to the country to investigate. It's a case that will prove to be his last, and one he certainly won't forget... First published in 1913, EC Bentley's detective novel adapted by Alan Downer. Philip Trent ...... Martin Jarvis Mabel Manderson ...... Helena Breck Marlowe ...... Simon Hewitt Bonner ...... Brian https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m00... Description: Sigsbee Manderson is both renowned and hated throughout the financial world. One day he's found murdered... Amateur sleuth Philip Trent heads to the country to investigate. It's a case that will prove to be his last, and one he certainly won't forget... First published in 1913, EC Bentley's detective novel adapted by Alan Downer. Philip Trent ...... Martin Jarvis Mabel Manderson ...... Helena Breck Marlowe ...... Simon Hewitt Bonner ...... Brian Hewlett Cupples ...... Manning Wilson Inspector Murch ...... Alan Downer Martin ...... Stephen Thorne Sir James Molloy ...... Sean Barrett Mrs Morgan ...... Joanna Wake Figgis ...... Paul Gregory Eddison ...... David Goodland Williams ...... Stuart Organ Dr Stock ...... Simon Cuff The word not used: striation (n.) 1849, "a parallel streak," noun of action from striate (v.) - the series of ridges, furrows or linear marks, used in forensics to identify which gun fired a bullet

  15. 4 out of 5

    Damaskcat

    No one seems to be mourning the late Sigsbee Manderson when his dead body is found in the grounds of his home - least of all his widow, Maud. Philip Trent, artist and sometimes criminal investigator, is sent to cover the case by the newspaper he sometimes works for. He finds himself unwillingly attracted to the lovely Maud. Trent jumps to some totally unwarranted conclusions about the identity of the murderer and the case twists and turns before the truth is finally revealed. This is one of the c No one seems to be mourning the late Sigsbee Manderson when his dead body is found in the grounds of his home - least of all his widow, Maud. Philip Trent, artist and sometimes criminal investigator, is sent to cover the case by the newspaper he sometimes works for. He finds himself unwillingly attracted to the lovely Maud. Trent jumps to some totally unwarranted conclusions about the identity of the murderer and the case twists and turns before the truth is finally revealed. This is one of the classics of crime fiction but it didn't quite hold my attention - possibly because I didn't really take to the character of Philip Trent himself. I suspect the book needs more than one reading to really appreciate it. I did think the plot was excellent and I didn't work out who the murderer was until a few minutes before it was actually revealed. If the first chapter puts you off - as it nearly did with me - then do persevere as the book is worth reading.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Wanda

    26 MAY 2019 - a recommendation through Laura. Many Thanks! Listen here - https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000... Download for a read-for-free version - http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2568 Companion read here - http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/21854

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lucia

    The Manderson affair shall be Philip Trent's last case. His high-blown pride at length breaks under him. It may sound odd enough to start a series from a case that shall be the last one in the sleuth’s career. But Trent’s Last Case is far more amazing than that! To begin with the narrative, pregnant with evocative, almost cinematographic, descriptions: A few feet below him a broad ledge stood out, a rough platform as large as a great room, thickly grown with wiry grass and walled in steeply on The Manderson affair shall be Philip Trent's last case. His high-blown pride at length breaks under him. It may sound odd enough to start a series from a case that shall be the last one in the sleuth’s career. But Trent’s Last Case is far more amazing than that! To begin with the narrative, pregnant with evocative, almost cinematographic, descriptions: A few feet below him a broad ledge stood out, a rough platform as large as a great room, thickly grown with wiry grass and walled in steeply on three sides. There, close to the verge where the cliff at last dropped sheer, a woman was sitting, her arms about her drawn-up knees, her eyes fixed on the trailing smoke of a distant liner, her face full of some dream….. the woman, still alone with her thoughts, suddenly moved. She unclasped her long hands from about her knees, stretched her limbs and body with feline grace, then slowly raised her head and extended her arms with open, curving fingers, as if to gather to her all the glory and overwhelming sanity of the morning. And what can be said about the mystery itself? Though I puzzled out who the murderer might have been, the plot is double cunning, with surprising twists and to tie up everything properly, oh well! that was another story…

  18. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Published in 1913, this really has not dated badly at all. Yes, admittedly, there is a point in the book where a character has to explain what the rear mirror on an automobile is for, but otherwise the mystery centres on good old fashioned human failings – greed, jealousy and murder – which are sadly unchanging as motivators, or motives, even today. The book concerns the suspicious death of American financier, Sigsbee Manderson. His death causes a brief financial panic, but it does not seem to ca Published in 1913, this really has not dated badly at all. Yes, admittedly, there is a point in the book where a character has to explain what the rear mirror on an automobile is for, but otherwise the mystery centres on good old fashioned human failings – greed, jealousy and murder – which are sadly unchanging as motivators, or motives, even today. The book concerns the suspicious death of American financier, Sigsbee Manderson. His death causes a brief financial panic, but it does not seem to cause any great grief to those close to him. Sir James Mollroy, owner of several newspapers, contacts Philip Trent – an artist who has an interest in crime and journalism – and asks him to look into matters. Providentially, Trent’s old friend, Mr Nathaniel Burton Cupples, is the uncle of Manderson’s wife, Mabel, which allows him access to the house and those within it. It seems that Manderson had been behaving oddly for some time. Never a demonstrative man, he seemed even more distant with his household; especially his wife. Trent is a wonderful character – engaging, very human and prone – as so many GA detectives were – to quoting poetry constantly. I enjoyed his attempts to unravel the mystery and thought the novel well plotted, with lots of twists and turns. I had not read anything by E.C. Bentley before, but I would certainly read another mystery featuring Philip Trent. Great fun for Golden Age crime lovers.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jill Hutchinson

    This book consistently shows up on "greatest mysteries" lists and with good reason. Written in 1913, it is considered the first of the "golden age" mysteries but does not have your typical infallible Holmesian-style detective. Phillip Trent, an artist, journalist and amateur detective is on the case of a murdered millionaire and he starts out with a bang. All his deductions make perfect sense based on the clues but instead, they are all wrong. The story has more turns than an alpine highway and a This book consistently shows up on "greatest mysteries" lists and with good reason. Written in 1913, it is considered the first of the "golden age" mysteries but does not have your typical infallible Holmesian-style detective. Phillip Trent, an artist, journalist and amateur detective is on the case of a murdered millionaire and he starts out with a bang. All his deductions make perfect sense based on the clues but instead, they are all wrong. The story has more turns than an alpine highway and a triple twist ending. It is a lot of fun and Trent is an appealing, if overly romantic/dramatic, fellow. The story and the historic relevance of the book in the mystery genre makes it a five star read in my opinion.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mizuki

    DNF at page 92. I know, this book is a murder mystery classic but I just couldn't get into the story and be interested enough to continue. Will try again later...much later.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Graeme Roberts

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Writing Trent's Last Case, encouraged by his best friend, G. K. Chesterton, was apparently so traumatic for Edmund Clerihew Bentley that he confidently considered it his first and last mystery when it was published in 1913. He recalls, in an article called Meet Trent published in 1931:So, being then engaged in earning my living by other means [writing editorials at the Daily Telegraph], I formed the opinion that writing detective stories was not, so far as I was concerned, an ideal way of occu Writing Trent's Last Case, encouraged by his best friend, G. K. Chesterton, was apparently so traumatic for Edmund Clerihew Bentley that he confidently considered it his first and last mystery when it was published in 1913. He recalls, in an article called Meet Trent published in 1931:So, being then engaged in earning my living by other means [writing editorials at the Daily Telegraph], I formed the opinion that writing detective stories was not, so far as I was concerned, an ideal way of occupying one's spare time. And this is why the novel was called Trent's Last Case.Despite the encouragement of Chesterton, who was clearly one of the finest writers of the twentieth century, and the author of the enduring Father Brown mysteries, Mr. Bentley had the apt humility not to quit his day job. He did publish another Philip Trent mystery in 1956, long after he had retired. Bentley achieved his goal of introducing wit to a genre that had been seriously self-important, in the manner of Sherlock Holmes, and that was worthy."What sort of a woman is she? Has she her wits about her?" "She's French, sir," replied Martin succinctly; "She has not been with us long, sir, but I have formed the impression that the young woman knows as much of the world as is good for her—since you ask me." "You think butter might possibly melt in her mouth, do you?" said Trent.But though a competent prose stylist, he was certainly not a good one. Consider the opening of Chapter V:There are moments in life, as one might think, when that which is within us, busy about its secret affair, lets escape into consciousness some hint of a fortunate thing ordained. Who does not know what it is to feel at times a wave of unaccountable persuasion that it is about to go well with him?—not the feverish confidence of men in danger of a blow from fate, not the persistent illusion of the optimist, but an unsought conviction, springing up like a bird from the heather, that success is at hand in some great or little thing.In its introduction, and again in the appendices, the book makes much of his invention of a nonsense verse form called the clerihew, after his middle name. It was described as comparable in popularity to the limerick, and indeed he published three books of them, and a compilation. It's hard to see why.The Art of Biography Is different from Geography, Geography is about Maps But Biography is about Chaps. Karl Marx Was completely wrapped up in his sharks. The poor creatures seriously missed him While he was attacking the capitalist system.Compare this to a bowdlerized version of a favorite limerick:There was a young girl of Cape Cod who thought all good things came from God. But it was not the almighty who lifted her nightie, it was Roger the lodger, the sod.Enough of this intensely amusing background. How was the story? Once it vaults over the sometimes turgid prose that sets the scene, the story is quite compelling. In fact, Bentley's setting of the scene is, in itself, admirably clear. He may be the only author to ever describe rooms with such precision that the reader can see them in architectural detail. Clues are well placed, but the solution is unexpected, and delights when it appears. Having tied it all up beautifully, Trent is exultant, until another important character reveals an even deeper explanation of who really did it. The reader, delighted with the first outcome, as I was, is knocked for six. A plot of such complexity that had already stretched plausibility to the very limit added another layer for no dramatic gain, and thus tied the plot to The Rack and began turning vigorously, ignoring the screams of agony. At risk of saying too much, which is certainly not British, it is worth adding that the story and the Edwardian culture that underlies it seem very old fashioned. Oxford men, like Bentley himself, are easily recognizable:As the two approached each other, Trent noted with admiration the man's breadth of shoulder and lithe, strong figure. In his carriage, inelastic as weariness had made it; in his handsome, regular features; in his short, smooth, yellow hair; and in his voice as he addressed Trent, the influences of a special sort of training was confessed. "Oxford was your playground, I think, my young friend," said Trent to himself.Women are only as good as they ought to be, but ladies are paragons of ineffable virtue and purity.This woman seemed to Trent, whose training had taught him to live in his eyes, to make the most beautiful picture he had ever seen. Her face of southern pallor, touched by the kiss of the wind with colour on the cheek, presented to him a profile of delicate regularity in which there was nothing hard; nevertheless the black brows bending down toward the point where they almost met gave her in repose a look of something like severity, strangely redeemed by the open curves of the mouth.Snobbery and prejudice run together in the three-legged race, and Bentley has his hero sing happily, "There was an old nigger..." All such instances and other cultural differences are explained for the American audience in occasional footnotes.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Maine Colonial

    What an entertaining classic mystery. Notable for its plot that keeps twisting back on itself just when you think it's been resolved. But not in a pop-up surprise way, but in a way that addresses issues that might have bothered you a little bit about a prior explanation. That makes the resolution satisfying while still being surprising. Trent is an engaging main character, with a good sense of humor, a keen mind and integrity. As is all too often the case in these old mysteries, there are a few th What an entertaining classic mystery. Notable for its plot that keeps twisting back on itself just when you think it's been resolved. But not in a pop-up surprise way, but in a way that addresses issues that might have bothered you a little bit about a prior explanation. That makes the resolution satisfying while still being surprising. Trent is an engaging main character, with a good sense of humor, a keen mind and integrity. As is all too often the case in these old mysteries, there are a few throwaway lines insulting to Jews and black people.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Clarice

    Excellent classic mystery novel. More twists and turns than any Agatha Christie novel. Just when you think the mystery is resolved, there's a twist and then another and another. Highly recommended.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Learnin Curve

    More of a 3.5. The first of the Goldern Age mysteries. Far wordier than those which followed it, was a slog, why use one word when you can use 5 with more than four constants in each. Is worth reading and you can see exactly why it kicked off an entire genre but too much moralising for me to really enjoy.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sylvester

    2.5* A decent light read. For some reason the first half of the book didn't grab me.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Annabel Frazer

    I was interested to read this because Agatha Christie, no less, apparently described it as one of the three best detective stories ever written. Also, its 1913 publication date puts it comparatively early in the detective story canon, so it should be free from the burden of living up to what came before - or so I thought before the book's introduction reminded me just how many great detective stories came before it - most of Doyle, for instance. When I started the book, I was impressed, although I was interested to read this because Agatha Christie, no less, apparently described it as one of the three best detective stories ever written. Also, its 1913 publication date puts it comparatively early in the detective story canon, so it should be free from the burden of living up to what came before - or so I thought before the book's introduction reminded me just how many great detective stories came before it - most of Doyle, for instance. When I started the book, I was impressed, although not quite so much so as those glowing accolades led me to expect. I found the style rather long-winded and overwrought - perhaps just a product of its Edwardian age, but I also learned from the introduction that the book was written partly as a 'spoof' of detective stories. This is rarely a good sign - while I love parodies and spoofs in short form, lampooning your chosen genre's weaker qualities tends to be just as tedious for the reader as doing it in earnest, when done at any length. I liked the artist and amateur detective Philip Trent, who has some of the same mannerisms of Lord Peter Wimsey. However, the other characters never quite came alive for me, not even the luminous Mrs Mabel Manderson. (And what was with all the Ms? Along with the Mandersons, we had a Martin and a Marlowe, all in the same house.) For me, it is vividness of character and narrative style which make a detective story, not the cleverness of the plot, so this was a little disappointing. In terms of the puzzle itself, (view spoiler)[the author does not play quite fair because as well as hiding Trent's deductions froms the reader, he also hides some of the observations which prompt those deductions. And the momentum is badly affected by Trent falling in love with Mrs Manderson. I am all for a love interest in a detective story, but Trent is affected so powerfully that he hands his theory over to the widow and rushes off in despair for the Continent, only returning six months later to tie up the loose ends. I missed the tautness of time and space that you get in some of the classic detective stories. I guessed the business of someone else wearing Manderson's clothes and faking the time of his death, possibly because Dorothy Sayers used the same device in Whose Body. I also guessed Manderson's own devilish plan, but so late on that I was only just ahead of Trent, and this revelation really did feel satisfyingly shocking. It was so perfect that I felt it was slightly spoiled by a further twist coming right at the end. (hide spoiler)] Overall, this was entertaining enough but I wouldn't put it as high as Christie herself. I think it would make an excellent film, though - apparently it has not been filmed since the 1950s.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    “Trent’s Last Case” is a good example of Golden Age Detective Fiction, better yet it apparently is one of the earliest GA detective stories. As it stands, it is a short book, and I read through it quickly. Aside from the flowery language and obviously, the period and cozy countryside it is set in, it has a very contemporary feel. Especially, where human nature and Wall Street is concerned. The story gets more depth when you take into account that the writer wanted to create a human detective con “Trent’s Last Case” is a good example of Golden Age Detective Fiction, better yet it apparently is one of the earliest GA detective stories. As it stands, it is a short book, and I read through it quickly. Aside from the flowery language and obviously, the period and cozy countryside it is set in, it has a very contemporary feel. Especially, where human nature and Wall Street is concerned. The story gets more depth when you take into account that the writer wanted to create a human detective contrary to the ever popular Sherlock Holmes, and other all-knowing superhuman amateur detectives. Perhaps that's why in this book the sleuth makes some surprising discoveries and does some excellent thinking but gets it very wrong, two times. The victim is utterly dislikeable, and at first, the reader wonders why there is a need for the victim to be so horrible that we, no one, can wait for him to be killed. Unless, of course, that serves to increase the number of possible motives and suspects in an apparently clear-cut case. That proposition takes us on a wild goose chase only to end up with the very first, very obvious, suspect encountered in the book. I think it's an excellent mystery of the classic cut entertaining in its own right for those who enjoy a flow of humorous albeit wordy, banter.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Calum Fisher

    Ripping stuff - simultaneously a farceur’s reaction to the solemnity of Poe, Doyle et al and the prototype for the golden age, so this amounts to a genre milestone. Worth noting that the golden age emerges from something close to a spoof. Unusually fine plotting, admirably ridiculous and tongue-in-cheek. Weighed down by leaden romantic subplot and bouts of tedious banter, alongside scientific-racist (marginal) plot details tho I’ve seen much worse

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dean Keoma

    First book in a while...made me rediscover why I love to read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    The Celtic Rebel (Richard)

    I really enjoyed this a lot. The plot seemed simple at first, just your ordinary murder mystery. As it went along it got more interesting and complex with several surprises. The twist at the end I did not see coming at all. The characters were very interesting from the main characters to the supporting ones. I especially loved the widow, Mabel Manderson. For some reason she reminded me in many ways of the wife in Witness for the Prosecution. The only thing that keeps me from giving it a 5 is at I really enjoyed this a lot. The plot seemed simple at first, just your ordinary murder mystery. As it went along it got more interesting and complex with several surprises. The twist at the end I did not see coming at all. The characters were very interesting from the main characters to the supporting ones. I especially loved the widow, Mabel Manderson. For some reason she reminded me in many ways of the wife in Witness for the Prosecution. The only thing that keeps me from giving it a 5 is at times it got draggy. I still highly recommend this though. Although I have heard of him before, this was the first thing I have read from Bentley. I look forward to discovering more of his works.

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