THE BIRTH OF TELEVISION TRILOGY by Clarence Budington Kelland

From Book 1: “In this mystery centering around a murder victim dressed as a homeless man and a missing Stradivarius, the [characters] are all well rounded... The setting of the mystery is a New York television studio. As this was written in 1951, television was still in its infancy and Kelland takes the time to describe how television works. His attention to detail created a believable and interesting world for the mystery to unfold. My favorite character has to be the feisty Grandmother... Refreshing. 5 Stars.” —Goodreads

"The Key Man concerns a television variety show whose members are menaced by a gang of crooks. Kelland does a very good job with his description of early live TV. The young director of the show serves as an amateur detective, with the show's comedienne serving as his detective partner and love interest. It has the feel of a 1940's or 50's mystery story… ” —Mike Grost, A Guide to Classic Mystery and Detection

“Video background nicely sketched, characters, including cops, competently drawn. Smooth.” —Criminal Record

In one of the first crime novels ever set behind the scenes of big-time television, Clarence Budington Kelland has plotted a thrilling adventure of danger and death which climaxes in a series of fast-moving surprises. Peter Mortain, one of the youngest directors in this very young medium, was beleaguered enough, directing the first episode of the most expensive variety show ever produced. He had a cast whose first appearance on television made them skittish, a thousand technical details to handle, and a star…who was also his boss!

The blonde soprano was smooth and talented. She was also mysteriously hired at the last minute and was taking the best songs and skits away from the other cast members and claiming them as her own—and the producer refused to stop her. From the first moment she joined the Tod Arundel Show, at least one member of the cast suspected her presence meant big-time trouble. That suspicion became a certainty when a corpse called on the young director.

Peter directed the next rehearsal of his coast-to-coast television revue, knowing that somehow the glamorous soprano had picked up some nasty acquaintances. He worried that his back was the target for the next knife. Peter found out too fast why the sensational blonde was hired, and why their boss was paying her particular attention . . . and why she took a certain non-professional interest in Peter—for a price that added up to his own life. Unwittingly, he had become the key man in a in a nightmare intrigue.

Murder and the Key Man shows one of the master storytellers of all time at his exciting best, populated with Kelland’s vivid, memorable characters, with the signature brilliant, strong-minded heroine, eccentric romance, and showstopper of a grandmother, who solves most of the case herself.

Buy Now!


Click to purchase the whole trilogy from:


About the Author

Clarence Budington Kelland was author of nearly 100 novels of mystery and romantic suspense, had enough careers for several men: attorney, reporter, manufacturer of clothespins, director of a major newspaper group, and more. Kelland became best known as a fiction writer, penning some 100 novels, and selling them as serials to the biggest and highest paying magazines of the time—like The Saturday Evening Post, The American Magazine, Colliers, and Cosmopolitan. Many were immortalized on film, of which the romantic suspense comedy and Oscar-winner, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, is undoubtedly the most famous. Kelland appeared alongside Agatha Christie, Rex Stout and Erle Stanley Gardner in the same magazines, but was the most popular of the four. The New York Times described Kelland’s novels as “lively stories, designed to prick the jaded palate, that keep readers pleasantly entertained” and noted that “Kelland demonstrates the emotions of his lovers with a psychological penetration.” Kirkus Reviews called his novels “Bright and breezy, with plus appeal for murder-mystery addicts.” His magazine publishers kept besieging him for more novels because every time they serialized one of them (typically in 6-8 installments), circulation shot upward. Kelland obliged, and produced far more each year than his publisher (Harper and Row) could keep up with, leaving more than three dozen unpublished in book form when he died. His inimitable characters, trademark dialogue and deftly plotted stories, according to Harper, “made him an American tradition and won him more loyal, devoted readers than almost any other living author.” Kelland, as ever self-depreciating, simply described himself as “the best second-rate writer in the world.” His legions of fans, old and new, would likely disagree. There was nothing second-rate about his work.