Cecil Street

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Major (Cecil) John (Charles) Street
Born 3 May 1884
Died 8 December 1964(1964-12-08) (aged 80)
Eastbourne, East Sussex
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Rank Major
World War I
Irish War of Independence
Awards MC

Cecil John Charles Street, MC, OBE (3 May 1884 – 8 December 1964), who was known to his colleagues, family and friends as John Street, began his military career as an artillery officer in the British army. During the course of World War I, he became a propagandist for MI7, in which role he held the rank of Major,[1] after the armistice, he alternated between Dublin and London during the Irish War of Independence as Information Officer for Dublin Castle, working closely with Lionel Curtis.[2] He later earned his living as a prolific writer of detective novels.


John Street produced two long series of novels; one under the name of John Rhode, the majority featuring the academic Dr. Priestley,[3]; another under the name of Miles Burton, the majority featuring the retired naval officer Desmond Merrion; and a third under the name Cecil Waye.

The Dr. Priestley novels were among the first after Dr Thorndyke to feature scientific detection of crime,[3] such as analysing the mud on a suspect's shoes. Desmond Merrion is an amateur detective who works with Scotland Yard's Inspector Arnold.

Critic and author Julian Symons placed "John Rhode" as a prominent member of the "Humdrum" school of detective fiction. "Most of them came late to writing fiction, and few had much talent for it. They had some skill in constructing puzzles, nothing more, and ironically they fulfilled much better than S. S. Van Dine his dictum that the detective story properly belonged in the category of riddles or crossword puzzles. Most of the Humdrums were British, and among the best known of them were Major John Street ...".[4] Symons opinion has not however prevented the Rhode and Burton books becoming much sought after by collectors and many of the early ones can command high prices.[citation needed] Jacques Barzun and Wendell Hertig Taylor in their A Catalogue of Crime offer a different perspective to Symons, praising several of the Rhode books in particular, though they only review a small proportion of the more than 140 novels written by Street.

Curt Evans has written the only detailed account of Street's life and works: "I wrote my new book, Masters of the "Humdrum" Mystery: Cecil John Charles Street, Freeman Wills Crofts, Alfred Walter Stewart and the British Detective Novel, 1920–1961 (published by McFarland Press) in part to give a long overdue reappraisal of these purportedly "humdrum" detection writers as accomplished literary artists. Not only did they produce a goodly number of fine fair play puzzles, but their clever tales have more intrinsic interest as social documents and even sometimes as literary novels than they have been credited with having."


This bibliography has been confirmed against a standard reference.[5]

Dr. Priestley novels written as John Rhode[edit]

Series characters: Lancelot Priestley, Inspector Hanslet and Inspector Jimmy Waghorn.

  • The Paddington Mystery (1925)
  • Dr. Priestley's Quest (1926)
  • The Ellerby Case (1927)
  • The Murders in Praed Street (1928)
  • Tragedy at the Unicorn (1928)
  • The House on Tollard Ridge (1929)
  • The Davidson Case (1929) (U.S. title Murder at Bratton Grange)
  • Peril at Cranbury Hall (1930)
  • Pinehurst (1930) (U.S. title Dr. Priestley Investigates)
  • Tragedy on the Line (1931)
  • The Hanging Woman (1931)
  • Mystery at Greycombe Farm (1932) (U.S. title The Fire at Greycombe Farm)
  • Dead Men at the Folly (1932)
  • The Motor Rally Mystery (1933) (U.S. title Dr. Priestley Lays a Trap)
  • The Claverton Mystery (1933) (U.S. title The Claverton Affair)
  • The Venner Crime (1933)
  • The Robthorne Mystery (1934) When one of the Robthorne twins commits suicide, there is a question over which one it is and whether it was suicide or murder.
  • Poison for One (1934)
  • Shot at Dawn (1934)
  • The Corpse in the Car (1935) Dr. Priestley solves how Lady Misterton was killed whilst sitting, alone, in her car. Supt Hanslet attempts to track down her killer.
  • Hendon's First Case (1935)|
  • Mystery at Olympia (1935) (U.S. title Murder at the Motor Show)
  • Death at Breakfast (1936)
  • In Face of the Verdict (1936) (U.S. title In the Face of the Verdict)
  • Death in the Hop Fields (1937) (U.S. title The Harvest Murder)
  • Death on the Board (1937) (U.S. title Death Sits on the Board)
  • Proceed with Caution (1937) (U.S. title Body Unidentified)
  • Invisible Weapons (1938)
  • The Bloody Tower (1938) (U.S. title The Tower of Evil) – Inspector Waghorn identifies a ruthless murderer and solves a set of clues to the whereabouts of long-hidden treasure
  • Death Pays a Dividend (1939)
  • Death on Sunday (1939) (U.S. title The Elm Tree Murder)
  • Death on the Boat Train (1940)
  • Murder at Lilac Cottage (1940)
  • Death at the Helm (1941)
  • They Watched by Night (1941) (U.S. title Signal For Death)
  • The Fourth Bomb (1942)
  • Dead on the Track (1943)
  • Men Die at Cyprus Lodge (1943)
  • Death Invades the Meeting (1944)
  • Vegetable Duck (1944) (U.S. title Too Many Suspects)
  • Bricklayer's Arms (1945) (U.S. title Shadow of a Crime) (Dr. Priestley plays only a minor role in this book, all the actual detection being done by Inspector Waghorn)
  • The Lake House (1946) (U.S. title Secret of the Lake House)
  • Death in Harley Street (1946)
  • Nothing But the Truth (1947) (U.S. title Experiment in Crime)
  • Death of an Author (1947)
  • The Paper Bag (1948) (U.S. title The Links in the Chain)
  • Up the Garden Path (1949) (U.S. title The Fatal Garden)
  • The Telephone Call (1949) (U.S. title Shadow of an Alibi)
  • Blackthorn House (1949)
  • Family Affairs (1950) (U.S. title The Last Suspect)
  • The Two Graphs (1950) (U.S. title Double Identities)
  • The Secret Meeting (1951)
  • Dr. Goodwood's Locum (1951) (U.S. title The Affair of the Substitute Doctor)
  • Death at the Dance (1952)
  • Death in Wellington Road (1952)
  • Death at the Inn (1953) (U.S. title The Case of the Forty Thieves) – Inspector Waghorn breaks a gang of thieves who have found an ingenious way to defraud the Post Office and, along the way, murder a man by poisoning
  • By Registered Post (1953) (U.S. title The Mysterious Suspect)
  • Death on the Lawn (1954)
  • The Dovebury Murders (1954)
  • Death of a Godmother (1955) (U.S. title Delayed Payment)
  • The Domestic Agency (1955) (U.S. title Grave Matters)
  • An Artist Dies (1956) (U.S. title Death of an Artist)
  • Open Verdict (1956)
  • Death of a Bridegroom (1957)
  • Robbery With Violence (1957)
  • Death Takes a Partner (1958)
  • Licensed For Murder (1958)
  • Murder at Derivale (1958)
  • Three Cousins Die (1959)
  • The Fatal Pool (1960)
  • Twice Dead (1960)
  • The Vanishing Diary (1961)

Non-series novels written as John Rhode[edit]

  • A.S.F.: The Story of a Great Conspiracy (1924) (U.S. title The White Menace)
  • The Double Florin (1924)
  • The Alarm (1925)
  • Mademoiselle From Armentieres (1927)
  • Drop to His Death (1939) (U.S. title Fatal Descent) with "Carter Dickson", a pseudonym of John Dickson Carr
  • Night Exercise (1942) (U.S. title Dead of the Night). Sir Hector Chalgrove, acerbic businessman and Home Guard Colonel, disappears during a World War II night exercise. Major Ledbury (Officer Commanding the Wealdhurst Company, Home Guard) assists police to find the killer and assuage local suspicion of his guilt.

Desmond Merrion novels written as Miles Burton[edit]

Series characters: Desmond Merrion and Inspector Henry Arnold.

  • The Secret of High Eldersham (1930) (aka The Mystery of High Eldersham)
  • The Menace on the Downs (1931)
  • The Three Crimes (1931)
  • Death of Mr. Gantley (1932)
  • Fate at the Fair (1933)
  • Tragedy at the Thirteenth Hole (1933)
  • Death at the Crossroads (1933)
  • To Catch A Thief (1934)
  • The Charabanc Mystery (1934)
  • The Devereux Court Mystery (1935)
  • The Milk Churn Murder (1935) (U.S. title The Clue of the Silver Brush)
  • Where is Barbara Prentice? (1936) (U.S. title The Clue of the Silver Cellar)
  • Death in the Tunnel (1936) (U.S. title Dark Is the Tunnel)
  • Murder of a Chemist (1936)
  • Death at the Club (1937) (U.S. title The Clue of the Fourteen Keys)
  • Murder in Crown Passage (1937) (U.S. title The Man with the Tattooed Face)
  • Death at Low Tide (1938)
  • The Platinum Cat (1938)
  • Mr. Babbacombe Dies (1939)
  • Death Leaves No Card (1939)
  • Mr. Westerby Missing (1940)
  • Murder in the Coalhole (1940) (U.S. title Written in Dust)
  • Death Takes a Flat (1940) (U.S. title Vacancy With Corpse)
  • Up The Garden Path (1941) (U.S. title Death Visits Downspring)
  • Death of Two Brothers (1941)
  • This Undesirable Residence (1942) (U.S. title Death at Ash House)
  • Dead Stop (1943)
  • Murder M.D. (1943) (U.S. title Who Killed the Doctor?)
  • Four-Ply Yarn (1944) (U.S. title The Shadow on the Cliff)
  • The Three Corpse Trick (1944)
  • Early Morning Murder (1945) (U.S. title Accidents Do Happen)
  • Not A Leg to Stand On (1945)
  • The Cat Jumps (1946)
  • Situation Vacant (1946) -Two secretaries for Alys Whyttington die within months of each other. Arnold, Merrion and local confidant Mr Clipsham investigate the deaths and the mysterious past of Mrs Whyttington.
  • Heir to Lucifer (1947)
  • A Will in the Way (1947)
  • Devil's Reckoning (1948)
  • Death in Shallow Water (1948)
  • Death Takes the Living (1949) (U.S. title The Disappearing Parson)
  • Look Alive (1949)
  • Ground for Suspicion (1950)
  • A Village Afraid (1950)
  • Beware Your Neighbour (1951)
  • Murder Out of School (1951)
  • Murder on Duty (1952)
  • Heir to Murder (1953)
  • Something to Hide (1953)
  • Murder in Absence (1954)
  • Unwanted Corpse (1954)
  • A Crime in Time (1955)
  • Murder Unrecognized (1955)
  • Death in a Duffle Coat (1956)
  • Found Drowned (1956)
  • The Chinese Puzzle (1957)
  • The Moth-Watch Murder (1957)
  • Bones in the Brickfield (1958)
  • Death Takes a Detour (1958)
  • Return from the Dead (1959)
  • A Smell of Smoke (1960)
  • Legacy of Death (1960)
  • Death Paints a Picture (1960)

Non-series novels written as Miles Burton[edit]

  • The Hardway Diamonds Mystery (1930)
  • Murder at the Moorings (1932)

"Perrins" novels written as Cecil Waye[edit]

Series characters: Christopher and Vivienne Perrin – 'Perrins, Private Investigators'.

  • Murder at Monk's Barn (1931)
  • The Figure of Eight (1931)
  • The End of the Chase (1932)
  • The Prime Minister's Pencil (1933)

Novels written as F.O.O. (Forward Observation Officer)[edit]

  • The Worldly Hope (Eveleigh Nash Company), 1917, a war novel.

Non-fiction books and pamphlets[edit]

Written as F.O.O. (Forward Observation Officer)

  • With the Guns (Eveleigh Nash Company), 1916
  • The Making of a Gunner, 1916

Written as I.O. (Intelligence Officer)

  • The Administration of Ireland, 1920, 1921 at Internet Archive

Written as C. J. C. Street

Written as John Rhode

  • The Case of Constance Kent


Written as C. J. C. Street

  • Vauban, Builder of Fortresses, by Daniel Halvey, translated with notes, 1929
  • The Life and Voyages of Captain Cook, by Maurice Thiery, translated with notes, 1929

Short Stories and Faction[edit]

Written as C. J. C. Street

  • Paying a Morning Call. New Zealand Times, 14 January 1918
  • The Duel. Straits Times, 18 January 1918
  • An Airman's Evening. Oamaru Mail, 18 January 1918
  • Ending a Nuisance. Taranaki Herald, 21 January 1918
  • A Quiet Night Watch. Press, 31 January 1918
  • The Counter Attack. Taranaki Herald, 26 February 1918
  • Gunner Morson, Signaller. Trench and Camp (Camp Logan Edition), 11 March 1918
  • Getting the Wind Up. War Supplement for Week Ending 27 April 1918
  • Under Fire. Feilding Star, 29 July 1918. Reprinted; Taranaki Herald, 1 August 1918
  • The Thick of It. Leeds Mercury, 14 August 1918
  • Not a Blank. Leeds Mercury, 21 August 1918
  • On the High Seas. Cassell's Magazine of Fiction, September 1920
  • TITLE UNKNOWN. Lloyd's Story Magazine, September 1922 - Not confirmed
  • The Ship's Doctor. Sea Stories, 5 October 1923

Written as John Rhode

  • The Elusive Bullet. Stories of Detection, Mystery and Horror - Second Series, Ed. Dorothy L Sayers, 1931 (Dr. Priestley story)
  • The Vanishing Diamond. The Great Book of Thrillers Ed. H. Douglas Thomson, 1935 (Dr. Priestley story)
  • The Yellow Sphere. Sunday Dispatch, 3 April 1938
  • The Purple Line. Evening Standard, 20 January 1950. Reprinted in Evening Standard Detective Book, 1950 (Inspector Purley story)

Non-Fiction articles in books, newspapers and magazines[edit]

Written as C. J. C. Street

  • TITLE UNKNOWN, Every Week Illustrated, 18 April 1914 - Not confirmed
  • Making Gunners, New Zealand Times, 9 January 1918
  • On the High Seas, Taranaki Herald, 18 January 1918
  • The Equipment of a Battery, Oamaru Times, 2 February 1918
  • The Heavy Artillery Chaplain, Taranaki Herald, 22 February 1918
  • Artillery Registration, Newcastle Journal, 25 February 1918
  • Gunners and Their Targets, Leeds Mercury, 2 March 1918
  • Barrage, Straits Times, 6 March 1918. Reprinted as The Barrage: Taranaki Herald, 20 March 1918; Colonist, 28 March 1918
  • Supplying in the Field, Straits Times, 12 March 1918
  • Cambrai, New Zealand Times, 12 March 1918
  • In a German Gun-Pit, Taranaki Herald, 20 March 1918
  • Mechanical Transport, New Zealand Herald, 6 April 1918
  • The Paris Long Range Gun, Leeds Mercury, 8 April 1918
  • Reaping the Whirlwind, Straits Times, 15 April 1918
  • Watching a Shoot, Every Week Illustrated, 18 April 1918
  • Rifle First and Last, Coventry Evening Telegraph, 20 April 1918
  • When Gas Ceases to be Deadly, Lincolnshire Echo, 22 April 1918
  • Muscle and Brain, Daily Record, Monday 22 April 1918
  • Constructional Material in the Field, Oamaru Mail, 22 April 1918. Reprinted: Dunstan Times, 13 May 1918
  • The Hedjaz Railway, Taranaki Herald, 25 April 1918. Reprinted: Wanganui Herald, 2 May 1918; Straits Times, 18 May 1918
  • Artillery Ammunition, Nelson Evening Mail, 26 April 1918
  • Importance of Amiens, Northern Whig, 27 April 1918
  • Before the Dawn, Taranaki Herald, 27 April 1918
  • The Fall of Jericho, Taranaki Herald, 27 April 1918
  • Physical Training, Leeds Mercury, 29 April 1918
  • The Right-of-Way, Dominion, 14 May 1918. Reprinted: Taranaki Herald, 23 May 1918
  • A Forgotten Project, Dominion, 14 May 1918. Reprinted: Waikato Times, 20 May 1918; Ohinemuri Gazette, 29 May 1918; Thames Star, 1 June 1918
  • The Tail of the Convoy. Taranaki Herald, 29 May 1918
  • Artillery Training, Taranaki Herald, 4 June 1918
  • The Line of Fire, Evening Star, 7 June 1918. Reprinted: Mount Ida Chronicle, 28 June 1918; Southland Times, 2 July 1918
  • Mechanical Transport in War', Singapore Free Press & Mercantile Advertiser, 8 June 1918
  • Artillery Registration, Straits Times, 15 June 1918
  • Modern Gunnery, Malaya Tribune, 18 June 1918
  • Long Range Artillery, Cornhill Magazine, July 1918
  • The Day of Assault, Evening Post, 28 August 1918
  • Side-Lines in Munition, Doninion, 15 August 1918. Reprinted: Bruce Herald, 9 September 1918
  • The Time of Waiting, Dominion, 27 August 1918. Reprinted: Taranaki Herald, 30 August 1918; Wanganui Chronicle, 6 September 1918
  • On the Highway, Pictorial Supplement for Week Ending 31 August 1918
  • Big Guns in Hiding, Auckland Star, 31 August 1918. Reprinted: Taranaki Herald, 5 September 1918; Taihape Daily Times, 6 September 1918
  • My Billet, Pictorial Supplement for Week Ending 6 September 1918
  • The Liberty Columns, Dominion, 24 September 1918
  • Railways and Their Importance in War, Windsor Magazine, September 1918
  • Munitions of War, Auckland Star, 2 November 1918. Reprinted: Dunstan Times, 3 February 1918
  • Directing the Guns, Windsor Magazine, December 1918
  • Propaganda behind the Lines, Cornhill Magazine, November 1919
  • Transport Problems and Reconstruction, Windsor Magazine, December 1919. Partly reprinted: Northern Advocate, 30 March 1920
  • The Wireless Telephone and the Development of Modern Communications, Windsor Magazine, June 1920
  • Slovak Peasant Art, Illustrated Review, August 1923
  • Railways of Czechoslovakia, The Railway Gazette, 14 December 1923
  • Slovakia Past and Present, Illustrated Review [Not confirmed], 1923
  • Eastward through Czechoslovakia, Illustrated Review [Not confirmed], 1923
  • In the Land of the Ruthvenes, Illustrated Review [Not confirmed], 1924
  • Prelate Chancellor, Daily Mail, Date unknown. Reprinted: Otago Daily Times, 6 August 1924

Written as John Rhode

  • Constance Kent, included in The Anatomy of Murder, Bodley Head, 1936
  • Why People Like Detective Stories, The Listener, 2 October 1935
  • Unsolved Mysteries No. 6: Solution to the "Mystery of the Murdered Lieutenant", The Star, 1938


  • Sixpennyworth, featuring Inspector Jimmy Waghorn (No performances have been traced). The play is set in the lounge of The Spotted Dog, a pub in a town whose name is not given, "emphatically so", and involves a neat method of creating an instant blackout. No performances have been identified


Plays written as John Rhode

  • Dr. Priestley, BBC Empire Service, talk as part of the series 'Meet the Detective', 1935
  • The Strange Affair at the Old Dutch Mill, play featuring Inspector Jimmy Waghorn, BBC National Programme, 7 October 1938, as part of the series 'What Happened at 8:20?"
  • Death Travels First, two-part play featuring Inspector Jimmy Waghorn, BBC Home Service, 2 and 9 July 1940 as part of a series of plays by members of the Detection Club

Non-fiction written as John Rhode

  • Thoughts of a Detective Story Writer, BBC National Programme, 7, 14, 21 and 28 September 1935

Unfinished material[edit]

  • Untitled, 48-page typescript of the opening chapters of an apparently non-series novel, set in the villages of Kildersham and Dreford and concerning a death at a pheasant shoot and a drowning.


  1. ^ Director 'M.I.7(b)(1)' from April – November 1918
  2. ^ The Administration of Ireland, 1920 Reprint, 2001 by Athol Books. Introduction by Dr. Pat Walsh p5
  3. ^ a b T. J. Binyon (1989). Murder will out. Oxford University Press. pp. 50–51. ISBN 0-19-219223-X. 
  4. ^ Symons, Julian (1974). Bloody Murder. London: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-003794-2. 
  5. ^ Hubin, Allen J. (1980). Crime fiction, 1749–1980: A Comprehensive Bibliography. New York: Garland Publishing. ISBN 0-8240-9219-8. 

External links[edit]