Julian Gustave Symons (1912-1994) was an English poet and biographer and served as a mystery fiction reviewer for The Sunday Times. He also wrote non-fiction books on criminology and one titled Bloody Murder (a/k/a Mortal Consequences), a history of the mystery novel up through the book's publication in 1972, in which he argued that traditional puzzle-plots were inferior to, and being supplanted by, crime novels focused more on the psychology of criminals.
Yet, Symons was also capable of writing some fine puzzle-type myteries himself, such as The End of Solomon Grundy, published in 1964. The name of the main character is taken from a British nursery rhyme from the 19th century, but the fictional Solomon Grundy has also appeared as a character in DC Comics, on an episode of Sesame Street, and in other incarnations incluing an upcoming movie from director Danny Boyle.
The plot of Symons' book centers on a young, self-described "model" who is murdered in Mayfair Mews, although Superintendent Jeffrey Manners isn't sure if the "model" was exactly that or something a little less reputable. His investigations lead him to an exclusive suburban housing estate called The Dell, filled with seemingly law-abiding, upper-class denizens like architect Dick Weldon and wine and food expert Jack Jenifer, who feel "they were on the whole more intelligent, liberal and humane than the majority of their fellow citizens."
The exception to The Dell's civilized enclave is a boorish advertising executive named Solomon Grundy, "ginger-haired and red-faced, arms hanging apelike out of a jacket that seemed too small for him...a terrifying figure." Grundy quickly becomes the chief suspect after it's discovered he had an affair with the victim and is arrested for the murder. Grundy doesn't help his case both during the investigation and the trial with his bluntness and acidic views of his wife, neighbors and colleagues. The trial, which takes up the second half of the book, appears cut-and-dried until a twist ending makes the verdict in doubt.
Symons was awarded various prizes for his writing, and in 1982 was named as Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America. He succeeded Agatha Christie as the president of Britain's Detection Club, a position he held from 1976 to 1985, and in 1990 he was awarded the Cartier Diamond Dagger from the British Crime Writers Association.