This book, which was published in 1913, gets three stars for the mystery (and one of those is for the satisfying final twist). It gets 1/2 star for reputedly being the first "golden age" British mystery. It gets another 1/2 star because the great Dorothy L Sayers was a friend (and fan) of the author. All of these factors combined to make me like it a lot.
I had never heard of Bentley or of his detective Phillip Trent until I recently read The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers: 1899-1936: The Making of a Detective Novelist In April 1936 Sayers wrote to Bentley about his subsequent novel featuring Phillip Trent, Trent's Own Case. She writes:
"Trent himself, I rejoice to see, hasn't altered a scrap, and reappears with all his old humour and charm, and with vigour unimpaired by his long rest on the shelf. He is, you know, the only modern detective of fiction I really ever want to meet (except, possibly [G K Chesterton's] Father Brown, and even he may be too much on the religious tack, taken in large quantities. I am always ashamed of how much my poor Peter owes to Trent, besides his habit of quotation."
Peter Wimsey does indeed owe something to Phillip Trent, although possibly not as much as Sayers suggests. I love Wimsey, so I am pre-disposed to love Trent. He is indeed a very attractive character: an artist, prone to quoting poetry, witty, self-deprecating, keenly observant and inclined to whistle when concentrating. I gather that he only appears in two novels and some short stories. Having read this novel, I rather wish he had had more outings.
Recommended for golden age fans. Possibly not of much interest to anyone else.