The Dr Britling Stories

Art is never sordid,’ said Daniel.  ‘And murder is one of the arts.’

Volume One contains the first collection of stories featuring Police Surgeon turned amateur sleuth Daniel Britling, originally published 1930-32:

The Green Ghost Murder Introducing Daniel Britling and his sister Eunice. When the mythical ‘Green Ghost of Heaton Forest’ returns to haunt the locals, Britling must find a murderer before he strikes twice.

Too Many Motives Mark Savile celebrates his 54th birthday by inviting four men – who all hate him – to dine at his home, and then goads each one individually. An hour later, Savile is found dead.

Find The Lady When impulsive Lady Frances Dorian disappears from a hotel in Brighton without being seen leaving, Britling agrees to do some private sleuthing.

Six Were to Die A group of financiers put all the blame for their illegal activities on one colleague, who served a long prison sentence. His plans for revenge are signalled to each man in advance.


By James Ronald

Introduction by Chris Verner

First published in 1930s by William Collins and others

ISBN 9781899000661

eISBN 9781899000678

Available December 2023


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Miss Eunice Britling looked up with a start from the half-finished mauve-coloured sock which she was knitting. Although she would be sixty years of age on her next birthday, her eyesight and hearing were exceedingly good. shouldAt the moment her eyesight told her that the door into the next room had moved slightly, so gently that only a draught could have stirred it, and her ears told her that the window in the next room had been raised cautiously from the outside.

It seemed evident that an intruder was about to enter the little house by stealth, a fact which in no way amazed Miss Britling; it pleased her rather or would please her when the danger attendant on the intruder’s presence was past, for she had prophesised burglars from the moment she had set foot in the house. It was hardly a house, more a cottage, consisting as it did of two bedrooms, a dining-room, a tiny sitting-room, kitchen, scullery and bathroom. In size, it was ideal for the Britlings, whose menage consisted simply of Doctor Daniel Britling, his twin sister Eunice, and a young servant girl who ‘lived out’; but the sitting-room and adjoining bedroom at the rear on the ground floor, the windows of which were only three feet from the ground, were a direct invitation to enterprising burglars.

The Britlings had taken the place furnished for a month, to allow Daniel to recuperate after a severe attack of pneumonia, for it was situated in Carstow, a large but pleasing town near the mouth of the Mersey, where the air is bracing and the climate mild. Only the convenient size of the house had overcome Miss Britling’s qualms, for she felt sure that so tempting a means of entrance as the unbarred windows offered would draw burglars as cheese draws mice.

As usual, she was right. A burglar was breaking in at this very moment, and she was alone in the house. Daniel was not there even to listen to her triumphant ‘I told you so!’ far less to expel the intruder. The little maid-of-all-work was out. Under the circumstances, most elderly ladies would have screamed loudly and long, but Miss Britling was made of sterner stuff. She took a full water-jug from a table in the corner and carried it into the bedroom.

The intruder pushed the window up half-way, and was climb­ing in. Miss Britling swung back her arm in preparation for heaving the contents of the water-jug over him.

Then a familiar voice said: “Don’t be alarmed Eunice. It’s only me.”

Miss Britling started. ‘Daniel, you utter fool!’ she exclaimed and switched on the light.

Dr. Britling, who was thus revealed with one leg in the room and the other out, completed his unusual entrance and shut the window.

“Sorry if I startled you,” he said, “but I didn’t want the blighter to know I live here. I dodged him neatly at the end of the road and slipped over the garden wall.”

“What blighter?” was Miss Britling’s not unnatural inquiry.

“The one who at this moment is probably marching up and down the avenue, wondering where the dickens I’ve got to,” he said. “I’ll go and have a look.”
Miss Britling stared in bewilderment at her brother. He was a police surgeon and, since his duties lay in the West End of London, not unfamiliar with crooks. In addition, he was an ardent student of crime, and had played an active part in unravelling more than one mystery.

Nothing of his association with crime or the police was sug¬gested by his appearance. He was short and slim, and his large head made his body look more tadpole than human. It had been said by more than one Scotland Yard official that his large head was due to conceit, but other less prejudiced officials had been known to admit that when Daniel put his enterprising finger into the pie of criminal detection, he almost invariably pulled out the plum that the detective in charge had groped for in vain.

He was always meticulously dressed in well-cut dark clothes, and he wore a pearl-grey fedora at a jaunty angle upon his head. His Vandyke beard was trimmed daily, and his moustache was graded to a nicety on either side. Criminology was his hobby and almost his profession.

His sister, who infinitely preferred romance to mystery, was inclined to be contemptuous of her brother’s activities. At the moment, however, she was impressed by his manner. He tip-toed through to the dining-room, the windows of which looked out into the street, drew back the curtain slightly, and peered out. Miss Britling followed and looked over his shoulder.

A young man, dressed in a fawn-coloured raincoat and a grey felt hat was walking up and down outside, looking up at the houses in the row, and his face wore a puzzled expression.

“He has been following me for the best part on an hour,” said Daniel in an annoyed tone. “Twice I thought I had shaken him off, but in a few moments there he was at my elbow again. It’s very annoying, for I shall have to stay in the house until he is gone, and I particularly wanted to go out this evening.”

“Then why not open the door and ask him what he wants?” asked Miss Britling, not unreasonably.

“Because I know what he wants,” replied Daniel in so dark a tone that his sister started nervously. “He is a humble member of a vast organisation; an organisation like a giant octopus, that is spreading its tentacles throughout the country.”

Just then the young man looked directly at their dining-room window, and recognised Daniel. Like a flash he darted up the front steps and began to ring the doorbell furiously.

“What are we going to do?” whispered Miss Britling.

“Nothing. We are in a state of siege until the young man tires or the doorbell breaks. I think I’ll just have a glass of port and a biscuit in the interval.”