though it may not be there anymore). The book details the accidental sleuthing adventures of Mrs. Elizabeth Warrender, the elderly mother of private detective James Warrender. She is the only other series character created by G.D.H. and Margaret Cole who are better known for their novels and stories about Superintendent Henry Wilson. Mrs. Warrender helps her son and sometimes outright investigates herself using her basic understanding of human nature. She gets to know people through casual but attentive conversation, she learns their habits and manners, most of all she listens to what people say unlike her son who she accuses of being unobservant. He focuses on the criminal behavior which she believes blinds him to true observations and completely overlooks people as they really are. This is all outlined in a brief "biographical" introduction titled "The Detective's Mother" that serves as a prelude to the four novellas. Overall, the collection is a mixed bag of the ordinary, the convoluted, and the intriguing. Apart from the supposed human observation theme running through the stories they also have in common a pronounced fascination with unusual murder methods.
Crampton Pleydell is found dead in his locked study. His death appears to be a suicide from cyanide poisoning. As the story progresses we learn that Pleydell has a strange hobby – replicating Renaissance Italian glass. His specialty was designing duplicates of Vetturi's poison toys – glass ornaments and glass jewelry filled with poisons that were used by the Medicis to commit assassination. This is something that seems to be more up John Dickson Carr's alley than the Coles. That aspect of the story held my interest and make it the most original and intriguing of the bunch. The motive for the crimes (there are other deaths) makes the most sense out of all the stories and the characters are the most interesting. No shop girls, beauty parlor employees, gorgeous dancers or office gossips on hand in this one which was a relief.
After the book Mrs. Warrender's Profession (1938) went out of print in the UK two small publishers decided to reprint each of the stories separately. They were printed in hardcover format and treated like mini novels complete with very attractive artwork on the dust wrappers. Some of these booklets (it's hard for me to call a 65 page work a book) went through multiple printings, amazingly enough, but were only released in the UK. A similar reissue process was also done with the other Mrs. Warrender stories (and two Superintendent Wilson novellas) found in the ultra rare book A Lesson in Crime (1933). Scans of the covers from those individually published volumes are used to illustrate this post.