Edmund Clerihew "E.C." Bentley (1875-1956) was an early 20th-century popular English novelist and humorist who's also credited with being the inventor of the clerihew, an irregular form of humorous verse on biographical topics. His 1913 detective novel Trent's Last Case was well-received, numbering Dorothy L. Sayers among its admirers, and its tricky plotting has led some to label it as the"first truly modern mystery." It was adapted as a film in 1920, 1929, and 1952.
Despite its title, Trent's Last Case was actually the first novel in which artist and gentleman sleuth Philip Trent appears, and after collecting all the evidence and coming to all the wrong conclusions, he vows he will never again attempt to dabble in crime detection. That was not to be the case, however, followed by a book of short stories, Trent intervenes, and finally Trent's Own Case, a sequel of sorts that was published twenty-three years after the original in 1936 (co-written with H. Warner Allen).
When the first book appeared, Trent was a breath of fresh air in the early Edwardian era but by the time the sequel appeared, the Golden Age era of crime novels was in full swing with books from the likes of Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham, Ngaio Marsh, Georgette Heyer, John Dickson Carr and many more. So, perhaps it was something to be expected that Trent's Own Case would begin to feel less path-breaking and more ordinary.
In this outing, the murder of a sadistic philanthropist sparks off an elaborate investigation led by Trent, who'd been painting the portrait of the man before he was killed. When a friend of Trent's confesses to the murder and tries to commit suicide, Trent comes out of retirement and offers to assist his police friend, Inspector Bligh. with the investigation. After a meandering investigation that finds Trent visiting France, two subsequent murders, and the disappearance of an actress, Trent finally solves the mystery and nails the guilty culprit.
Reviewer Mike Grost once said of the book, "This novel is full of many little subsidiary mysteries, each lasting a chapter or two, and each focusing on a new cast of characters. It gives the work as a whole the feel of a short story collection, or a loosely linked short story sequence à la The Arabian Nights." Bentley (and Allen) seem to have absorbed and "repurposed" bits from the new influencers of the genre such as Sayers and Freeman Wills Croft. It is also a book of its time, containing references that are considered offensive to many modern audiences, including racism and sexism.
As a side note, from 1936 until 1949 Bentley was president of the Detection Club and also contributed to two crime stories for the club's radio serials broadcast in 1930 and 1931 (later published in 1983 as The Scoop and Behind The Screen). In 1950 he contributed the introduction to a Constable & Co omnibus edition of Damon Runyon's "stories of the bandits of Broadway", which was republished by Penguin Books in 1990 as On Broadway.