Lover of the Fancy

Early C20th American culture and dissent

The Benson Murder Case
S S Van Dine


The first best-selling title in S S Van Dine’s series of Philo Vance detective mysteries, The Benson Murder Case (1926), was inspired by the real-life unsolved murder of Joseph Bowne Elwell (1873-1920) in which the victim was shot from within his locked house. Intellectual dandy and amateur sleuth Vance  – “a man of unusual culture and brilliance” – finds the case of murdered playboy stockbroker Alvin Benson fascinating, the missing toupee and false teeth being especially curious… Vance kindly comes to the aid of his friend District Attorney Markham and sets about tracking down the killer using his cerebral powers of deduction in contrast to the short-sighted methods of the police.

This is a roman à clef, based on  the unsolved 1920 murder of bridge expert Joseph Bowne Elwell.

Hardback, 384pp
Flame Tree Publishing, 2020 (1926)
ISBN 9781839641572