Elizabeth Anthony wrote two murder novels, “Dramatic Murder” and “Made for Murder.” Both were published by Hodder & Stoughton (London). The former was published 1948 whilst the latter appeared in 1950. Oddly enough, it seems that Elizabeth Anthony would fail to render another story until her short “Seventh Murder of Henry’s Father” appears in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine (Jan 1957). Then, inexplicably, she vanishes.
Or, did she?
Fact is, there is no such person as Elizabeth Anthony….
Aside from all the clues on the Internet and reference books, the most readily available clue manifests on the dedication page of “Made for Murder,” stating “To my sister-in-crime, Shelley Smith.”
Shelley Smith is an alias, too. She in fact was born Nancy Courlander, and her sister’s real name is in fact Barbara Courlander. Under Barbara’s married name “Rubien,” she authored “An Island in Piccadilly” in Flying Colours Revue (1943) and the book “The Cup and the Song” in 1947, prior to her pair of murder novels.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself….
Our author was born Barbara Frances Courlander (16 April 1906) at 2 Douglas Mansions, Leux Road, Kilburn, London. She married writer Howard Rubien (I believe this to be Howard Nelson Rubien, whom also appeared in at least 6 films and television) and had one child, Elisabeth (note, not spelled exactly the same as Barbara’s alias). Barbara died 17 Feb 1996 at the Carisbrook Lodge Nursing Home, at Corrig Road, Steyning, Sussex, England.
Little is known about Barbara. I hope to one day be able to alter those minuscule facts, but, we’ll save that for another day. Daughter Elisabeth married (and divorced) Erik Hulsman, but not before giving birth to a son, Robert Hulsman. Robert would potentially be in this 60s or 70s right now, and last known whereabouts find him between jobs, potentially a truck-driver, residing in Canada. Robert, if you or any friends find this post, I would love to correspond and discuss these novels and their history, with you.
Now, on to the pair of mystery novels.
“Dramatic Murder” opens immediately with a doctor and a young journalist driving to a castle, invited for Christmas. On arriving, they find the castle empty and devoid of life and sound. Where are all the guests? Where is the host? Gruesomely, they discover Dimpsie above the Christmas tree, arms spread-eagle, up upon a ladder, literally shocked to death. The police arrive, an inquest is performed, and death noted as accidental, if not foolish. But, our intrepid journalist, Miss Katherine Mickey, feels that Dimpsie simply couldn’t have been foolish enough to work on the tree while the lights were plugged in, especially with wet moccasins. Could it have been foul play? Which of the guests, all seemingly innocent and with nothing to gain from the playwright’s dramatic exit, could possibly have set the scene to murder? It’s all very unclear, initially, as each chapter introduces us to the various guests, and systematically, further murders occur. The killer may well have gotten away with the original murder, but Inspector Smith, whom was at the inquest, doesn’t believe in coincidences.
NOTE: Sadly, my copy lacks a jacket.
Click on the title above, courtesy of the
Classic Crime Fiction website, for the image.
“Made for Murder” develops with an epileptic winning 10,000 Pounds betting on football matches. With her face and lucky winnings plastered across the English newspapers, and essentially a mental-moron, she abandons her job as housemaid and flees to London. Here, she naively falls for a conman. He takes her to Paris, marries her, convinces her to sign some documents, then murders the simpleton. Obtaining her banked funds from a safety deposit box, he returns to his own wife (a decent woman) and informs her that he has “made good” and come into a lot of money. The pair departs for Guatemala, where he plans to explore and rob archaeological sites. Meanwhile, a lady-friend to the maid’s ex-boss learns of the murder, and, learning that the police are disinterested, begins investigative work of her own. The ex-boss, a botanist, decides to pursue her hunt for a rare flower, in of all places, Guatemala! She injures her leg and meets the murderer and his wife, in a remotely located hacienda. The wife is a sweetheart, and lonely for contact. But, when the murderer learns that the lady is the maid’s ex-boss, and has a photo taken of him with his murdered wife, he determines to murder her and destroy this last superficial bit of evidence against him…