Cayleys in crime novels

I have known for some years that a Cayley is a villainous character in A A Milne’s crime novel The Red House Mystery (1922). So it was with some reassurance that I found out today that the balance of villainy was redressed in 1929 when a novel appeared in which a Cayley is the murder victim, poisoned during a meeting of the Medstead Garden Suburb Literary Institute. (Sounds like the starting point for an episode of Midsomer Murders.)

It is Poison in the Garden Suburb by George Douglas Howard Cole and Margaret Cole, published by Collins in England and by Paysan and Clarke in New York. I have not got hold of a copy but the two GoodReads reviews, and contemporary reviews when it appeared, suggest it is somewhat tedious. All the suspects are apparently males in love with the poor Mr Cayley’s beautiful young wife.

The Coles, who were husband and wife, were prolific writers of crime fiction in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. He was a left-wing academic, who was Director of Labour Party research and on the staff of the New Statesman for many years, and who taught economics, politics and social science at Oxford University. She taught at London and Cambridge Universities, was a leading member of the Fabian Society, and was a long-serving London County Councillor and member of the Inner London Education Authority – she was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1970.

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