The Department of Dead Ends is Roy Vickers' most famous book. The eponymous Department is also his most famous creation - a fictional part of Scotland Yard, presided over by Detective Inspector Rason, which collected seemingly trivial and inconsequential bits and pieces associated with unsolved cases, and every once in a while managed to interpret those stray scraps of evidence so as to pin the crime on a hitherto unsuspected culprit.
Julian Symons and Ellery Queen were among the very good judges who lauded the "inverted mystery" short stories featuring the Department, and thanks to their advocacy, these stories are by far the best known of the countless stories that Vickers wrote. Is the praise deserved? I think so. There is an element of formula about the stories, once you have read several, and I think it's best to read them in small quantities. But that's true, in my opinion, of the great Father Brown stories too. You can have too much of a good thing, certainly, but I am quite clear that the Dead Ends stories are good thing.
"The Rubber Trumpet", the first of the stories, is justly famous, but several others are equally good. One story is plainly based on the Brides in the Bath case, while another, the excellent "The Henpecked Murderer", explicitly references the Crippen case. I hadn't read this story before, or been aware of it, and I though Vickers used the elements of the Crippen story very cleverly to create an intriguing tale.
Vickers' preoccupation with snobbery and social climbing is very evident in this collection, happily made available to modern readership by Bello - so much so that one senses he was working out "issues" of his own. The stories are very crisp and entertaining, and some of the writing - for instance, the opening paragraph of "The Yellow Jumper" - is very good indeed. This is a genuine classic.