The Bishop Murder Case: A Philo Vance Story

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Author: Van Dine, S. S. [PSEUD Willard Huntington Wright (1888-1939)] signed

Year: 1954

Publisher: Charles Scribner's Sons

Place: New York


viii+349+[3 ad] pages with fold out illustration. Small octavo (7 3/4" x 5 1/2") bound in original publisher's black cloth with blue lettering to spine and cover in original jacket. Signed card laid in. First edition.

The Bishop Murder Case is not as common and The Green Murder Case. The fourth title in the series.

The Bishop Murder Case (1928) is the fourth in a series of mystery novels by S. S. Van Dine about fictional detective Philo Vance The detective solves a mystery built around a nursery rhyme. The Bishop Murder Case is believed to be the first nursery-rhyme mystery book.

The story involves a series of murders taking place in a wealthy neighborhood of New York City. The first murder, of a Mr. Joseph Cochrane Robin, who is found pierced by an arrow, is accompanied by a note signed "The Bishop", with an extract from the nursery rhyme, "Who Killed Cock Robin". This crime takes place at the home of an elderly physicist with a beautiful young ward and a private archery range. District Attorney Markham finds the circumstances so unusual that he asks his friend Philo Vance to advise upon the psychological aspects of the crime. Further murders connected with the physicist's family and neighbors are accompanied with similar extracts from Mother Goose, such as the case of Johnny Sprigg, "who was shot through the middle of his wig, wig, wig." Midway through the book, an elderly woman confesses to the crimes, but this possibility is discounted by the police for physical reasons and by Philo Vance for psychological ones. Vance and the police luckily discover the kidnapping and confinement of a little Miss Moffatt before the child suffocates in the closet in which she has been locked. Vance finally realizes the significance of one character's pointed reference to The Pretenders, a play written by Henrik Ibsen; Bishop Arnesson of Oslo was a prominent character in the play. Vance arranges a spectacular finale in which the criminal is poisoned by a glass of liqueur which that person prepared for another suspect.

A film starring Basil Rathbone was made of The Bishop Murder Case in 1930. The film was an early "talkie" and lacks a music soundtrack.


Old bookseller ticket to front pastedown heal. Jacket with edge wear, some closed edge tears, some creasing to rear heal edge and fold over flaps else better than very good in like jacket.