Nicolas Bentley was best known as an illustrator, a humorous artist whose work on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats remains celebrated, but he also wrote a handful of books falling within the crime genre. He was the son of E.C.Bentley, author of the classic Trent’s Last Case, and both men worked sporadically in the genre for a good many years. The Tongue-Tied Canary was described by the publishers as Bentley’s first entry in the genre, although this is to pass over an earlier, light-hearted thriller called Gammon and Espionage.
This copy is elegantly inscribed (you can tell Bentley was an artist simply from the calligraphy) to a friend as “a bedside book – i.e. one that is guaranteed to send you off to sleep.” Far too modest – The Tongue-Tied Canary was perhaps Bentley’s most successful thriller