Clayton Rawson

Aliases: Stuart Towne

Clayton Rawson

Clayton Rawson (1906–1971) was a novelist, editor, and magician. He is best known for creating the Great Merlini, an illusionist and amateur sleuth introduced in Death from a Top Hat (1938), a rollicking crime novel which has been called one of the best locked-room mysteries of all time. Rawson followed the character through three more adventures, concluding the series with No Coffin for the Corpse (1942). In 1941 and 1943 he published the short-story collections Death out of Thin Air and Death from Nowhere, starring Don Diavolo, an escape artist introduced in the Merlini series.

In 1945 Rawson was among the founders of the Mystery Writers of America. He served as the first editor for the group’s newsletter, The Third Degree, and coined its famous slogan: “Crime Doesn’t Pay—Enough.” Rawson continued writing and editing for the rest of his life.

“A cornerstone of detective fiction.” - New York Times

“One of the topflight mystifiers in the whole bloodhound business, a favorite with plain fans and fancy connoisseurs alike.” - Fred Dannay, co-creactor of Ellery Queen

“[A] wonderful wizard of crime.” - Eleanor Sullivan, editor, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

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