August 2016 | Nate Pedersen

Publisher Looking for Mystery Author's Heirs

coversofrobbinsbooks.jpgAbandoned Bookshop, an imprint of British publisher Canelo, is actively seeking any heirs of Clifton Robbins, a "Golden Age" detective fiction writer. The publisher, who has begun reprinting Robbins' mysteries as eBooks, is saving the royalties from Robbins' book sales to distribute to an heir.

If one shows up.  

And so far no one has made the claim.

Clifton Robbins published nine mystery novels between 1931 and 1940. Five of those novels feature Clay Harrison, a London barrister turned amateur detective. The Harrison novels, while long out of print, remain under copyright. After a lengthy, and thus far fruitless search to find any heirs to the Harrison estate, Abandoned Bookshop is now re-publishing the Harrison novels in eBook form. They will be setting aside royalties until someone comes forward.

"Our royalties are more substantial than most ... [they] will be there waiting if someone comes forward, and it will go on accruing if they don't," said Michael Bhaskar, co-founder of Canelo, in a statement. "As a publisher, we respect copyright and we want to do everything we can to find these people. Hopefully we'll see someone come forward and say 'this was my great-uncle' or something."

Clifton Robbins died in 1964 (or maybe it was 1944, the record is unclear), although he ceased his literary output much earlier, in 1940, at the outbreak of WWII.

Hardcopies of Robbins' mysteries are somewhat scarce online, with copies averaging in the mid $40s for sale.

If you think you might be an heir to the Robbins estate (or have any leads), drop Canelo a line at