Introduction Biography Addresses Portraits
Books Short stories Stage plays Film and TV Radio and audio
Quotations Fishing Poetry Food Settings Dedications Narrative style Canning in the OED Reading lists Articles on Canning
Centenary News Links Availability

The Coral Tree

Short Story (2,180 words)

This story is a product of Canning's time in Hollywood, and is written as a pastiche of private-eye pulp fiction, with all main verbs in the present tense.

The unnamed narrator has been hired by a Hollywood producer to follow an English screen-writer suspected of having an affair with the producer's wife. He sees his quarry go into the house he has just bought, and talks to a meter-reader coming out. He waits and sketches a coral tree in the garden and a bronze statue.

The next day the writer does not turn up for work. The gumshoe goes back to the house, where a team of landscape gardeners has arrived to dig up the tree. But a telephone call comes through telling them not to touch the tree. They go away. Looking round the garden, the narrator finds the writer's dead body in a shrubbbery where it has been since the previous day. Who is the guilty party?


John Creasey Mystery Magazine, January 1957.
Included in comic strip form in "The Three Riddles", Super Detective Library No 106, 1957.

Included in the collection Crime and Detection, ed. John Higgins.