If only the detective from Clifton Robbins' crime novels could hop off the page and give his new publisher a hand. Scott Pack of Canelo imprint Abandoned Bookshop has been searching high and low for Robbins' relatives after discovering the novelist's 80-year-old works and deciding to publish two as e-books, reports the Guardian. Those relatives would be able to collect royalties. Canelo co-founder Michael Bhaskar describes Robbins' writing as similar to that of Agatha Christie, "but with more of an edge," though "it's a complete mystery who he is." Since coming across one of his books 20 years ago—a few hard copies are available online, per Fine Books—Pack has searched through archives, death notices, and spoken to people all over Britain, Bhaskar says. "The trail has gone cold."
All that's known about Robbins is that he was reportedly born in London in 1890, went to Cambridge, and worked as a journalist before publishing nine books between 1931 and 1940, five of which star detective Clay Harrison, according to a release. "From his books, you get the sense that he might have been a bit of a character. There are a lot of dark shenanigans and drugs," says Bhaskar, adding that records suggest Robbins might have died in 1944 or 1964. "We're hoping that opening this up to the general public will help us find a lead." There's some incentive for relatives to come forward: Royalties of at least 50% are "waiting if someone comes forward" and "will go on accruing if they don't," Bhaskar says. (A typo in a Harry Potter book could make you rich.)