Arthur Crook
Created by Anthony Gilbert (pseudonym of Lucy Beatrice Malleson; 1899-1973)

"My clients are never guilty."
-- Arthur's motto

The aptly-named ARTHUR CROOK is a rather shifty, but charming London lawyer-detective who doesn't seem to know much law, but is apparently more than willing to do just about anything or go just about anywhere for his clients. That includes faking evidence and brow-beating witnesses. He doesn't so much solve crimes as bash things around until he gets the outcome he desires.

Part of Crook's appeal is surely that he's so much clearly not just one of the people, and so for the people. No snooty Lord Mucky-muck pretensions here -- he's a lower-class Cockney, with questionable taste in clothing, and a weakness for vulgar, gaudy cars and beer. He's loud, obnoxious (and cheerfully sexist), but clearly devoted to his clients. One wag describes him as "a bright red face, bright red hair and a bright red car," and that about sums him up.

In the course of his adventures, Arthur travels all over England, from the most fog-shrouded and gloomiest of moors and most high-faluting of country estates to the seediest mean streets and dark alleys and cutthroat pubs London can offer. Don't Open the Door! (1945) is supposedly one of the better books in the series, with a good depiction of England during the war.

Anthony Gilbert was actually Lucy Beatrice Malleson, who also wrote as J. Keith, J. Kilmeny Keith and Anne Meredith. She wrote a total of 69 crime novels, but her most popular "hero" by far was Crook, who appeared in 51 novels.

RIYL: Martin Ehrengraf by Lawrence Block; Rumpole of the Bailey by John Mortimer



Brief respectfully filed by Kevin Burton Smith.

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