Stay of Execution

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(CC) Photo: Jerry Bauer
Michael Gilbert on the back cover of Mr. Calder and Mr. Behrens, 1982

Stay of Execution is a collection of mystery stories by the British thriller writer Michael Gilbert, first published in 1971 by Hodder and Stoughton. Gilbert, who was appointed CBE in 1980, was a founder-member of the British Crime Writers' Association.[1] The Mystery Writers of America named him a Grand Master in 1988[2] and in 1990 he was presented Bouchercon's Lifetime Achievement Award.[3]

Unusually for a collection of stories, its reprint edition by House of Stratus in 2011 has no index detailing the stories in the book. The longest story, by far, is the last one in the book, Stay of Execution. At 54 pages, it is what is generally called a novella. Two of the stories feature Chief Superintendant Hazlerigg; three Henry Bohun; and one Detective Inspector Petrella, characters who have figured in other short stories and novels by Gilbert. The Independent said of the book in 2006:

Gilbert had a fondness for amusing but unscrupulous pirates... and an entirely practical, indeed sceptical, view of the workings of the law. It was typical of his humour that the two stories in his excellent collection Stay of Execution (1971) in which rascally solicitors "get away with it", "Back on the Shelf" and "Mr Portway's Practice", were written in the first person.[4]

Stories in order


  1. (2012) Stay of Execution. House of Stratus, 194. ISBN 0755132440. 
  2. Michael Gilbert (obituary), 10 February 2006. Retrieved on 13 November 2012.
  3. History of Guests of Honor. Retrieved on 5 July 2014.
  4. "Michael Gilbert", obituary in the Independent of 9 February 2006 at [1]