THE MURDER AT CASTLE DEEPING
First Published in book form in May 1938 – 222 pages.
(The first edition has a 38 page John Hamilton advertising catalogue in the back – dated “Autumn 1937”)
Completely revised and reset and republished in 1951 - 152 pages.
Originally published in THE THRILLER magazine on 12th June 1937 and 17th July 1937
with the two parts entitled ‘Scandal at Castle Deeping’ and ‘The Counterfeiters’
Again, the narrator, Eric "Tubby" Wilde, tells this story in the first person. Steeley is over from America whilst his wife is nursing an injured sister in New Zealand. This is the first mention of Steeley's wife since Tubby was going to be the best man at his wedding at the end of 'Steeley Flies Again'. A meal has been arranged with Steeley, Tubby, Detective Inspector Wayne and Assistant Commissioner of Police, Colonel Raymond. We are told that Brian Ballantyne is away in Spain covering the civil war there. Steeley says that he thinks people are getting away with murder in the UK and gives as an example the case of Linton Hales who has drowned in his car in the moat of Castle Deeping. Raymond takes Steeley and Tubby on as special investigators and gets them to look into the case, which the coroner has recorded as 'accidental death'. Steeley and Tubby fly down to the apparently abandoned castle to investigate the scene of the crime. They soon find themselves locked in the cellar and then mysterious enemies flood the cellar in an attempt to drown them. Our heroes manage to get out and get into the castle. Here they find a mysterious girl drugged. Escaping to a nearby public house called the Gamekeeper's Arms, (but having to leave the girl behind), our two heroes meet "the boss". He details two men to follow and kill Steeley and Tubby. They manage to get to another pub by bus and Steeley fakes a heart attack to avoid having to leave at closing time, because the killers are waiting for them. When a doctor is called, Steeley takes the doctor into his confidence and asks him to call Wayne at Scotland Yard to come and help them. The police arrive in the nick of time but one of the would-be killers, 'Benny from Bow' is able to escape. Chasing him back to Castle Deeping, Steeley and the police find a Black Mass in session with devil worshippers engaged in debauchery. The police raid the Castle and catch nearly everybody but "the boss" and Benny both get away. Fingerprints identify "the boss" as one Paul Durant, an underworld figure. Steeley has an idea and arranges with Colonel Raymond for a story to be put in the papers that two car thieves are finishing their sentences and being released from Pentonville prison tomorrow. Steeley will become "Brown" and Tubby will become "Smith". The following morning, Steeley and Tubby are "released" from Pentonville and soon picked up by a car driven by Jimmy West with a passenger called Lewis or Lew for short. Lew wants to recruit the two "criminals" into a counterfeit currency racket. They will receive money in order to pass counterfeit currency and get real change. Steeley and Tubby are taken back to Lew's base and Benny from Bow arrives. Steeley and Tubby manage to avoid seeing him. They are then taken to see "the boss" to be approved. Knowing that if they come face to face with Paul Durant they will be in big trouble, our heroes go through some nerve wracking moments. The boss they are taken to see is "the Major", Durant's right hand man. They also meet "Tiger", Durant's bodyguard. Lew takes them to see the Major in a stolen car and this attracts the attention of the police and causes problems. Steeley and Tubby are next taken to the country residence of "the boss" by the Major. Here they have a confrontation with Benny from Bow. Steeley tries to bluff his way out but things take an unexpected turn. Tiger beats Lew to a pulp, thinking that he is a police informer. When Steeley and Tubby find his unconscious body they are gassed with tear gas. Durant then has them tied up and sets fire to the house so that they will all be burnt alive. Luckily, Lew recovers consciousness and is able to free Tubby who is able to get everybody out just in time. Steeley, Tubby and Lew steal a car in order to go after Durant. They travel down to his boat at Gravesend, where Lew thinks he will be. Here at the boat there is a final confrontation where the baddies get their comeuppance before the police arrive. However, not everybody is caught.
The Murder at Castle Deeping
Subtitle - Being the further adventures of "Steeley" Delaroy, gentleman adventurer, sometime air-smuggler, more recently unofficial police agent.
Told by his war-time comrade, and partner in his adventures, Captain Eric "Tubby" Wilde.
Publication Details - originally published by John Hamilton
First Edition Dustjacket