Hardcover first edition of The Iron Clew from 1947
Pictured above is the eighth and final installment of Phoebe Atwood Taylor's Leonidas Witherall mystery series (writing under the pen name Alice Tilton). Published by Farrar, Straus and Company (before Giroux was around), The Iron Clew continues the story of Leonidas Witherall, an anonymous mystery writer himself whose novels recount the adventures of Lieutenant Hazeltine, who is interrupted from his pastime when he must attend a dinner at fellow banker Fenwick Balderston's home. Upon arriving Balderston has been murdered with a bust of Shakespeare, and Leonidas and his band of helpers must set out to solve his murder. Tilton's Witherall novels are all engaging murder mysteries but of a lighter, more whimsical sort, and she comes up with some of the best names in fiction. While the cover of my copy is unfortunately slightly torn at the top, it still shows one the best book cover illustrations I've come across by Ronald Clyne. These mysteries are obviously dated, having been written over half a century ago, but they still exist as a unique, sardonic take on a genre that is almost always overly serious.