Arthur Gask, 1869-1951

Biographical note

Gask emigrated to Adelaide, South Australia in 1920, where he set up practice as a dentist. He began writing crime fiction while waiting for his patients and in 1921 paid for the publication of his first novel, The Secret of the Sandhills, which was an immediate success.

Over a period of forty years Gask wrote over thirty books as well as contributing short stories to The Mail in Adelaide. Most of his novels described the activities of a detective, Gilbert Larose, in solving crimes. Gask’s work was translated into several European languages, serialised in newspapers and broadcast on radio. He also wrote short stories.

H. G. Wells, an admirer of Gask’s work, corresponded with Gask. Wells regarded The Vengeance of Larose (1939) as Gask’s “best piece of story-telling . . . It kept me up till half-past one.” Bertrand Russell, also an admiring reader, called to see Gask at Gask’s home in Walkerville, an Adelaide suburb, when he was in Adelaide in August 1950. Gask was reported to have been delighted when, within a few hours after his arrival in Adelaide, Lord Russell called in and spent about an hour and a half with him. Russell confided that he was a reader of Mr. Gask’s books in England, and said that now they were so near to each other he felt he really must make his acquaintance. Lord Russell was 78 at the time and Arthur Gask was 81.

When nearly 80, Gask was still turning out two 80,000-words novels a year, and was reported to have got out of bed to write 23 pages and complete his final novel, Crime After Crime.


  • The Secret of the Sandhills [1921]
    John Stratton stood watching the life and bustle outside the post office, conscious that his position was desperate. A grey motorcar, a pretty girl, and a dropped pocket-book, temporarily send up his stock. . . . Then comes the murder on Henley beach, the police and — danger. John Stratton has to confess that he is in rather a tight corner; but there are always the blue eyes of the girl in the grey car.
  • The Secret of the Garden [1924]
    Archibald Cups, a bank clerk, is sentenced to prison for an embezzlement which he did not commit. He escapes and hides in the house of the very judge who sentenced him.
    Field: "Mr. Gask is a great hand at ingenious situations."
  • The Red Paste Murders [1924]
    For the eighth time in a fortnight, and for the fourth day in succession, murder is committed in Adelaide. Who is the mysterious assassin? A novel of non-stop thrills and excitement.
  • Cloud the Smiter [1926]
    The story of a great criminal and his associates who for long defied the police of Australia. But in the end one word proved the undoing of the whole band.
    The Times: "The Smiter is a capital creation,"

Gilbert Larose, detective

  • The Dark Highway [1928]
    The story of a double crime, perpetrated at midnight amongst the lonely sand-dunes of the Coorong.
    Nottingham Journal: "A thrilling story."
  • The Lonely House [1929]
    Tells of a lonely house upon a lonely shore, and how a master-criminal was in hiding there; how chance led a great tracker of crime to the spot, and how his feet came first to be set upon the trail.
    Times Literary Supplement: "Thrilling from beginning to end."
  • The Shadow of Larose [1930]
    Is murder, in exceptional cases, justifiable? It was with any thoughts but those of murder that Charles Edis began his holiday, yet before many hours had passed — he had committed murder.
    Times Literary Supplement: "Moves quickly and excitingly."
  • The House on the Island [1931]
  • Gentlemen of Crime [1932]
    A millionaire was being forced to pay enormous sums of money by a blackmailer. So he hired the most celebrated detectives and crooks to help him. A magnificent story of plot and counterplot.
  • The Hidden Door [1934]
    Gilbert Larose to the rescue once more — this time to the Suffolk coast, where, in the space of a few weeks, four residents of adjoining villages had mysteriously disappeared, An extremely clever detective story.
  • The Judgment of Larose [1934]
    A distinguished house-party was assembled at Southdown Court when suddenly the peace of this country house was shattered by the discovery of a terrible crime. An extremely ingenious and forceful yarn.
  • The Poisoned Goblet [1935]
    Tells of the efforts of a gang of men to kidnap the child of Lady Ardave. Larose takes a hand and finds himself faced with one of the most puzzling cases of his career.
    Manchester Evening Chronicle: "A pleasing piece of work."
  • The Hangman’s Knot [1935]
    Gilbert Larose has met crime in a hundred guises but never has he been called upon to elucidate a mystery so completely baffling as in this first-class thriller.
    Manchester Evening Chronicle: "An amazing amount of cleverness and ingenuity."
  • The Master Spy [1936]
    This exciting international spy story will keep the reader breathless from cover to cover.
    East Anglian Times: "Will be relished by those who revel in thrills."
  • The Jest of Life [1936]
    A story rich in humour, it tells under what strange circumstances, cloaked in varying disguises, an unassuming dentist came to preach in Adelaide Cathedral; impersonate a high Society lady; deputise for a distinguished surgeon; explore, as a deputed spy the pits of social sin and shame; and, finally, ascend himself to affluence by a sharp turn of Fortune’s wheel. Love, laughter and tears! A delightful and naive exposition of the workings of some human minds.
  • The Night of the Storm [1937]
    The three young mistresses of a beautiful old Priory in Essex are faced suddenly with an accusation of murder. Harassed by the unceasing police investigations the girls appeal to Gilbert Larose. Another thrilling chapter in the life of the famous detective.
  • The Grave-digger of Monks Arden [1938]
    Scotsman: "Not to be recommended as a bedside book except for people with strong nerves. Larose’s adventures are varied and exciting. It is a strange story, rich in thrills and 'creeps', and makes excellent reading."
    Nottingham Journal: "A full-blooded, well-told tale which has the merit of a new theme. Hardly the thing for the squeamish."
  • The Vengeance of Larose [1939]
    H. G. Wells says of this highly exciting yarn: "By far the best piece of storytelling Gask has done. It kept me up to half past one last night."
    Sunday Mercury: "Mr. Gask knows all there is to know of how to write a good mystery story, which also means how to keep the reader’s nose buried in the book until the last page."
  • The House on the Fens [1940]
    But for the timely intervention of Inspector Stone, Gilbert Larose, the dauntless investigator, might himself have been arrested for murder. Set in a dark, lonely, jealously-guarded house deeply hidden in the Norfolk fens, this splendid Larose story is a yarn to send delicious cold shivers down your spine.
  • The Tragedy of the Silver Moon [1940]
    An unknown assassin is at work in London: five persons have already met their deaths — mysteriously. An anonymous letter defies Gilbert Larose to unmask the criminal.
  • The Beachy Head Murder [1941]
    The absorbing story of a crime perpetrated and atoned for, and of the later sequel in which the all but perfect murder was committed. Larose, however, was not deceived. Gifted with a profound insight into human nature and possessed of astonishing powers of observation, he identified the murderer and, in the dramatic climax, dispensed his own brand of justice.
  • His Prey was Man [1942]
    A young wife with a shameful secret, blackmailed. The blackmailer found shot. Larose suspected of murder. But what happened to him and how Justice, if not the Law, was satisfied forms another long, thrilling and highly dramatic episode in the career of Gilbert Larose.
  • The Mystery of Fell Castle
  • The Man of Death [1945]
    In a lonely house upon an unfrequented part of the Norfolk coast a retired Cambridge professor is living by himself. Gradually he becomes aware that his house, which is built upon the site of an age-old ruined church, is being watched. In his perplexity he appeals to Gilbert Larose.
  • The Dark Mill Stream [1947]
  • The Unfolding Years
  • The House with the High Wall [1948]
  • The Storm Breaks [1949]
    An attractive and aristocratic-looking girl of apparently quite ordinary origin has always had good reason to believe she was not the daughter of her mother’s husband. Losing both her parents, she seeks her fortune in London, makes her way into the social world and marries into a titled family. Then, through no fault of her own, she becomes involved in the death of a scoundrel who was attempting to blackmail her. Thanks to the help of the one-time great detective, Gilbert Larose, she at first eludes the law, though Scotland Yard is quite certain that she is the guilty woman. Move and counter move follow in rapid succession right up to the thrilling and dramatic climax
  • The Silent Dead [1950]
    A young and beautiful wife, happily married, is hiding two secrets of which she is determined her husband must never learn. The one man who discovers these secrets and threatens exposure meets with death under mysterious circumstances, and she is suspected of murder. Then Gilbert Larose, Scotland Yard’s most famous detective, intervenes.
  • The Vaults of Blackarden Castle [1950]
  • Marauders by Night [1951]

Other Novels

  • The Fall of a Dictator [1938]
    Aberdeen Press: "As topical and fascinating as its title suggests, The story is original and makes excellent espionage reading."
    Manchester Evening News: "One of the best constructed dramas of the British Secret Service we have read for some time."

Short Stories

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