Textual notes for At Death’s Door

As has been our policy in previous publications of Leo Bruce texts, we have, for the sake of consistency, mostly (though not always) followed the spelling and punctuation of the earliest novels—“shew” is used instead of “show” (when a verb), for example, direct speech is enclosed within double quotation marks (and reported speech therein within single quotation marks), “’phone” is retained for the shortened form of “telephone” instead of “phone”, “will” is capitalised when referring to a last will, and hyphens are retained (or, if absent, inserted) in “armchair” and “weekend” but hyphens are removed from “finger-prints” and “to-morrow”, “to-night” and “to-day”—in all texts.
In At Death’s Door, these additional changes occur:
spaces were placed around long dashes (Chapter One, page 9), and before another instance (p. 11), on the supposition that the dashes mark not a long pause but some short and no doubt profane expletive;
“she” in “she became incoherent as the tears started” (Ch. One, p. 11) was capitalised;
each instance of a subjunctive “was” (outside of dialogue, of course)—in “as if Inspector Bassett’s eye was on him all the time” and “tell that it wasn’t there” (Ch. Two, p. 17), in “If he was riled with anyone” (Ch. Two, p. 18), in “if there was one thing the sergeant couldn’t stand” (Ch. Two, p. 22), in “difficult to tell whether it was natural ability” (Ch. Five, p. 47), in “If this was true it narrowed the field” (Ch. Eight, p. 80), in “If that was so, the only hope was Dick Purvice” (Ch. Eighteen, p. 176), in “Carolus wondered whether it was not rather that his ears stretched” (Ch. Twenty, p. 189), and in “Even if it was the last afternoon of term” (Ch. Twenty, p. 189), in “If it was,” (thrice, Ch. Twenty-One, p. 198), in “unable to guess whether it was of him” (Ch. Twenty-One, p. 201), and in “if his watcher of a few minutes ago was the murderer” (Ch. Twenty-Two, p. 210)—was altered to “were”;

“if” in “He wondered if he should get assistance” (Ch. Two, p. 20), in “he wondered if she hadn’t been having a drink” (Ch. Two, p. 23), in “Carolus did not know if they were referring to Mr. Limbrick” (Ch. Sixteen, p. 150), was altered to “whether”;
one instance of “street-door” (Ch. Three, p. 32) was altered to “street door”;
“any one” (Ch. Four, p. 35) was altered to “anyone”;
“whisky and soda” (Ch. Four, p. 38 & Ch. Fifteen, p. 147) was altered to “whisky-and-soda”;
“criticized” (Ch. Four, p. 38) was altered to “criticised”;
a comma was inserted after “However” in “However I agree that they must go on the list” (Ch. Four, p. 42);
“has” in “as if the wind has stirred some heavy leaves” (Ch. Five, p. 45) was corrected to “had”;
“anyway” in “We should not like to know of any animal being ill-treated anyway” (Ch. Six, p. 56) was altered to “anywhere”;
“the” in “We knew the Purvice had business” (Ch. Six, p. 59) was altered to “that”;
we can find no other contemporary example of “ponk” (Ch. Six, p. 61) so, though it may have been Queen’s School slang, it was altered to “pong”;
in “She. . .” (Ch. Seven, p. 65) a space was inserted between “She” and the ellipsis;
the hyphen was removed from “brick-layer” (Ch. Seven, p. 66);
the hyphen was removed from “fore-warned” (Ch. Seven, p. 70 & Ch. Twenty-Seven, p. 258);
“father” and “mother”, when used by Mr. and Mrs. Baker appellatively (Ch. Seven, passim), were capitalised;
“£85” (Ch. Eight, p. 76) was altered to “eighty-five pounds”;
a comma replaced the stop after “smiling” (Ch. Nine, p. 87) in order to make two sentences—‘ “If I don’t return,” he said, smiling. “I’ll meet you in the Old Gateway café in half an hour.” ’—one sentence;
the Latin phrase “vice versa” (Ch. Nine, p. 88) was italicised;
“he” in “he told Miss Fitchley about the fox terrier” (Ch. Eleven, p. 105) was capitalised;
“That” in the parenthetical explanation “That’s thieving, Mr. Deene” (Ch. Thirteen, pp. 121-22) was uncapitalised;
one “prison officer” (Ch. Fourteen, p. 132) and a sole “officer” (Ch. Fourteen, p. 134) were capitalised for consistency’s sake;
“No. 18” in “Did you return to No. 18 Market Street” (Ch. Fourteen, p. 137) was, for consistency’s sake, altered to “Number Eighteen”;
the full stop’s position in “ ‘papa.’ ” (Ch. Fifteen, p. 139) was changed from before the right quotation marks to between them, “ ‘papa’.” and the comma was similarly moved in “ ‘Look thy last on all things lovely,’ ” (Ch. Fifteen, p. 141);
“in” within “Do you mean you took him in a pub?” (Ch. Fifteen, p. 140) was altered to “into”;
“It” in “It may be” (Ch. Fifteen, p. 141) was altered to “That”;
a full stop was inserted after the long dashes in “The lying —— He’d grass anyone” (Ch. Eighteen, p. 170);
“don’t” in “how do I know you don’t tell the Law?” (Ch. Eighteen, p. 171) was altered to “won’t”;
a full stop was inserted between “leg” and the subsequent ellipsis in “a dragging leg. . .” (Ch. Nineteen, p. 178);
“old” in “old Etonian” (Ch. Twenty, p. 191) was capitalised;
a comma was inserted after “Deene” in “My dear Mr. Deene I don’t read crime fiction for nothing” (Ch. Twenty-Two, p. 215);
a full stop replaced the seemingly unwarranted eroteme in “This blighter may be out to kill you?” (Ch. Twenty-Three, p. 221);
“jibbering” (Ch. Twenty-Four, p. 232) was altered slightly to “gibbering”;
a comma was inserted after “Baker” in “when he, Baker would have finished and gone” (Ch. Twenty-Eight, p. 264);
“back-yard” (Ch. Twenty-Eight, p. 265) was unhyphenated;
“And” in “And I thought you weren’t going to mention that” (Ch. Twenty-Eight, p. 265) was uncapitalised;
“mandible”, in “Bugs Fitchley trust out her horny mandible and seized Mrs. Millen’s” (Ch. Twenty-Eight, p. 273), was changed to “hand”;
a dagger and double dagger replaced the asterisks for the second and third footnotes (Ch. Twenty-Nine, pp. 282 & 283);
the “O” in “Good-O” (Ch. Twenty-Nine, p. 285) was uncapitalised.
Page references are to the first (and, sadly, only) edition of At Death’s Door by Leo Bruce, published by Hamish Hamilton (London, 1955).