The Anatomy of Murder

This book was published in the UK in 1936, and the American edition whose dust wrapper is pictured appeared the following year. The jacket copy gives a comprehensive explanation of what the book is about.

‘Here seven members of the Detection Club discuss seven actual murders, each of which is of special interest because of the strangeness of the crime, or because of the personality of the criminal. In each case the writer has not been content simply to retell the story of the crime, but has endeavoured to throw light upon it, either by the revelation of new facts, or by application of psychological tests to the mind of the criminal, or by comparison of the resources of present-day investigation with those of the past.

Helen Simpson writes on the ‘Death of Henry Kinder’ – the strange story of a man who blacked his face, donned a red Crimean shirt, drank some brandy, and set out to murder the husband of his mistress.

John Rhode tells of the curious personality of ‘Constance Kent’, the young girl who committed a callous and brutal murder as a revenge against her stepmother.

Margaret Cole’s story of ‘The Case of Adelaide Bartlett’ is not a tale of horror or brutality; none of the characters concerned, however old and foolish they may have been, were monsters, yet the woman concerned very nearly hanged.

E.R. Punshon gives ‘An Impression of the Landru Case’ – the story of a man who succeeded in concealing so completely the fate of his eleven victims that no proof existed that they were even dead.

Dorothy Sayers considers ‘The Murder of Julia Wallace’, which provides an unrivalled field for speculation, since, whether William Wallace was guilty or innocent, the story is the sort that (one would think) could only have been put together by the ingenuity of a detective novelist.

Francis Iles writes of ‘The Rattenbury Case’ – one of the most stupid murders ever committed, where a woman took the guilt upon herself in an effort to save her young lover.

Freeman Wills Crofts in ‘A New Zealand Tragedy’ tells of the brutal double murder by a clever and callous criminal, who himself set forth a plausible theory to account naturally for the facts, but was finally caught by clever detection and the evidence of such clues as a single artificial tooth found in the rough grass of a paddock, and several hundred pieces of bone.