E.C. Bentley

Franklin Library E.C. Bentley books

Trent's Last Case - Library of Mystery Masterpieces - 1988


E.C. Bentley biography

Edmund Clerihew Bentley, known by his pen name E.C. Bentley, was born on July 10, 1875, in London, England. He emerged as a versatile literary figure, contributing to various genres, including detective fiction, humor, and poetry. Bentley's creative output, marked by wit and intellectual acuity, left an indelible mark on early 20th-century English literature. Bentley's literary journey commenced with the publication of his first collection of humorous and satirical verses, titled "Biography for Beginners" (1905). The unique form of four-line humorous verses, now commonly known as "clerihews," became a hallmark of Bentley's style. These verses, often whimsical and poking fun at historical or literary figures, showcased his clever wordplay and irreverent sense of humor.

However, Bentley's literary contributions extend beyond verse. In 1913, he published his first novel, Trent's Last Case, which proved to be a pivotal work in the genre of detective fiction. This novel introduced the character Philip Trent, a freelance detective, and subverted some of the conventions of traditional detective stories. "Trent's Last Case" is often regarded as one of the early examples of the "inverted detective story" genre, where the solution to the mystery is presented at the beginning, and the narrative explores how the detective arrived at the solution. Bentley's foray into detective fiction showcased his ability to navigate and innovate within the genre. While the success of Trent's Last Case earned him acclaim, Bentley did not confine himself to a single literary niche. His interests and talents led him to explore various forms of writing, including plays, essays, and even biographies.

During World War I, Bentley served as a war correspondent, further demonstrating the breadth of his literary engagement. His experiences during the war influenced his later works, including Bellona's Husband: A Novel (1918), which explored the impact of the conflict on individuals and society. In addition to his literary pursuits, Bentley had a notable career as a journalist and editor. He worked for several publications, including the Daily News and the Pall Mall Magazine. His editorial roles allowed him to engage with contemporary issues and contribute to public discourse.

E.C. Bentley's literary legacy is characterized by its diversity, blending humor, detective fiction, and social commentary. His witty verses, pioneering work in detective fiction, and active participation in the cultural and intellectual milieu of his time solidify his place as a multifaceted literary figure. Bentley's influence on subsequent generations of writers is evident in the enduring popularity of "clerihews" and the recognition of Trent's Last Case as a significant contribution to the detective fiction genre. E.C. Bentley passed away on March 30, 1956, but his literary legacy endures, and his contributions continue to be appreciated by readers and scholars alike.


Trent's Last Case - Philip Trent Series Book 1

On Wall Street, the mere mention of the name Sigsbee Manderson is enough to send a stock soaring or bring it tumbling back to earth. Feared but not loved, Manderson has no one to mourn him when the gardener at his British country estate finds him facedown in the dirt, a bullet buried in his brain. There are bruises on his wrist and blood on his clothes, but no clue that will lead the police to the murderer. It will take an amateur to inadvertently show them the way.

Cheerful, charming, and always eager for a mystery, portrait artist and gentleman sleuth Philip Trent leaps into the Manderson affair with all the passion of the autodidact. Simply by reading the newspapers, he discovers overlooked details of the crime. Not all of his reasoning is sound, and his romantic interests are suspect, to say the least, but Trent’s dedication to the art of detection soon uncovers what no one expected him to find: the truth.

Delightfully irreverent yet ingeniously plotted, Trent’s Last Case is widely regarded as a masterwork of the mystery genre.

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