Month: January 2018

Review: The Case Of The April Fools (1933), by Christopher Bush (#9 in Ludovic Travers)

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Dean Street Press, 2017. Book Format: Kindle edition. File size: 600 KB. Print length: 219 pages. ASIN: B075GZ9H6N. eISBN: 978-1-911579-82-3. The Case of the April Fools was originally published in 1933 by Cassell in London. This new edition features an introduction by crime fiction historian Curtis Evans.

514zJ4yTrwL._SY346_“Let us know when you’re dead!” 

Book Description: Ludovic Travers had known it was a publicity stunt, all that business about the anonymous threatening letters. He expected a hoax but what he found was two men lying dead on the floor of Crewe’s bedroom. To be confronted with murder at eight in the morning was no joke. Norris, the quiet, steady Inspector of Scotland Yard, certainly didn’t think so, although during the weeks he and Travers sought to puzzle it all out, he many times remarked, “It was on April Fool’s Day, don’t forget that.” This is one of Bush’s masterpieces – an intricate and baffling country house murder mystery. The Case of the April Fools was originally published in 1933. This new edition features an introduction by crime fiction historian Curtis Evans.

My take: In connection with the lease of the Mermaid Theatre, Ludovic Travers receives the visit of  two gentlemen. One of them  is Courtney Allard of whom Travers had some references. The other gentleman, who introduces himself as Charles Crewe, is certainly not of the class and breeding of Allard, who looked a fool, while Crewe, for what Travers can guess, is nothing of the sort. Shortly before leaving, Allard mentions casually that perhaps he should have told Travers before that Crewe was not feeling in good form lately.  Recently he’s been receiving death threats. Indeed, as soon as they both left, Travers reads in the paper:  

With him (Courtney Allard) was Mr. Charles Crew who is likely, so they tell me, to make things pretty lively in the theatrical world very shortly. Mr. Crewe, by the way, is either the most unfortunate person in England at the moment or the victim of a foolish joke. Somebody is threatening to murder him! The prospective victim is, however, bearing up remarkably well, though the police, I may divulge very confidentially, are treating the affair with every seriousness and have already taken certain precaution. The curious thing about the whole matter is that Mr. Crewe owns up to a knowledge of at least four people who might really like to murder him, though all four are citizens of the United States and were, when he last heard about them, still in that fortunately far-off country. 

Later that same day, while Travers is having a cup of tea at Fragoli’s, he recognises the voices of Allard and Crewe, without being seen. For what he can listen, they both believe Travers would be the ideal witness of a joke they are perpetrating. The next morning Travers receives a letter from Allard inviting him to stay overnight next Wednesday at his country house The Covers where there will be a bunch of really unusual people and for sure they will have a good time. Besides, they will also have time to discuss further the terms of the lease in view of some new circumstances that have arisen. Despite his suspicions, Travers does what he feels to be the most absurd thing he can do. He accepts gratefully, and decides to bring his man Palmer down with him. On Wednesday morning, the papers carry the news that Mr. Charles Crewe, who is staying at the Covers, with the famous sportsman Courtney Allard, had just received a new letter that narrows the time of his death to twenty four hours. The most suspicious thing about this whole business is that the next day is April the first. But everything gets more complicated when on April the first, Crewe is found dead, stabbed, in his room, when it all was supposed to be only a joke. Moreover when Travers run downstairs to call the police, a shot is heard and Allard is also found dead. The hypothesis of a suicide can be entirely ruled out as the murder weapon is nowhere to be found.

I have certainly enjoyed reading The Case Of The April Fools and I would like to thank all those, whose reviews and blog posts I mention below, for having encourage me to read this book. I would like to highlight in particular the effort carried out by Dean Street Press to republish Christopher Bush’s novels with an introduction by Curt Evans, I hope it will be worthwhile.

It would be presumptuous on my side to consider this novel, the first one I’ve read in Ludovic Travers series, a masterpiece. Even for my taste I have found some small details a bit far fetched. But it certainly is a good novel and an excellent example of the “humdrum school” of detective fiction. It is also the ninth book in a series that span 42 years and a total of  61 books of which, as far as I know, not all of them have the same quality, but I certainly look forward to reading more of his most interesting books.  In short, as a reading experience it was fascinating. The story is nicely crafted, the author plays fair, and the plot is complex enough to interest the reader. Even if the solution comes as no surprise to you, I still found the story clever and attractive. I don’t believe it would be much of a spoiler adding that, oddly enough, it will be the detective in charge of the case the one to find out the solution to the puzzle, instead of the amateur sleuth.

About the author: Christopher Bush was born Charlie Christmas Bush in Norfolk in 1885. His father was a farm labourer and his mother a milliner. In the early years of his childhood he lived with his aunt and uncle in London before returning to Norfolk aged seven, later winning a scholarship to Thetford Grammar School. As an adult, Bush worked as a schoolmaster for 27 years, pausing only to fight in World War One, until retiring aged 46 in 1931 to be a full-time novelist. His first novel featuring the eccentric Ludovic Travers was published in 1926, and was followed by 62 additional Travers mysteries. These are all to be republished by Dean Street Press. Christopher Bush fought again in World War Two, and was elected a member of the prestigious Detection Club. He died in 1973. (Source: Dean Street Press)

My rating: A ( I loved it)

The Case of the April Fools has been reviewed at In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, crossexaminingcrime, At the scene of the crime, gadetection and Beneath the Stains of Time among others.

Read more about Christopher Bush at:

Dean Street Press publicity page

Back in the Bushes: The Christopher Bush Detective Novels Reissued

Christopher Bush at Gadetection page

Mike Nevins on British mystery writer Christopher Bush


El caso del día de los inocentes, de Christopher Bush

“¡Háznos saber cuando estés muerto!”

Descripción del libro: Ludovico Travers sabía que, todo ese asunto de las cartas amenazadoras, era un truco publicitario. Esperaba una broma pero lo que se encontró fue a dos hombres muertos en el suelo de la habitación de Crewe. Enfrentarse con un asesinato a las ocho de la mañana no es ninguna broma. Norris, el tranquilo y firme inspector de Scotland Yard, ciertamente no lo creía, aunque durante las semanas que él y Travers trataron de descifrarlo todo, comentó muchas veces: “Fue el día de los inocentes, no te olvides”. Esta es una de las obras maestras de Bush: un complejo y desconcertante asesinato misterioso en una casa de campo. The Case of the April Fools fue publicado originalmente en 1933. Esta nueva edición cuenta con una introducción por el historiador de la novela policíaca Curtis Evans.

Mi opinión: En relación con el alquiler del Teatro Mermaid, Ludovico Travers recibe la visita de dos caballeros. Uno de ellos es Courtney Allard, de quien Travers tenía algunas referencias. El otro caballero, que se presenta como Charles Crewe, ciertamente no es de la clase y crianza de Allard, que parecía un tonto, mientras que Crewe, por lo que Travers puede adivinar, no era nada por el estilo. Poco antes de irse, Allard menciona casualmente que tal vez debería haberle dicho antes a Travers que Crewe no se encontraba en buena forma últimamente. Recientemente ha estado recibiendo amenazas de muerte. De hecho, tan pronto como ambos se fueron, Travers lee en el periódico:

Con él (Courtney Allard) estaba el Sr. Charles Crew, de quien parece ser, según me dicen, se esperan grandes cosas en el mundo del teatro muy pronto. El Sr. Crewe, por cierto, es la persona más desafortunada de Inglaterra en este momento o es víctima de una broma tonta ¡Alguien amenaza con asesinarlo! La posible víctima, sin embargo, lo está llevando notablemente bien, aunque la policía, puedo divulgar muy confidencialmente, está tratando el asunto con toda seriedad y ya han tomado ciertas precauciones. Lo curioso de todo esto es que el Sr. Crewe tiene al menos conocimiento de cuatro personas que realmente querrían asesinarlo, aunque las cuatro son ciudadanos de los Estado Unidos y estaban aún, cuando supo por última vez de ellos, en ese afortunadamente lejano país. (Mi traducción libre)

Más tarde ese mismo día, mientras Travers está tomando una taza de té en Fragoli’s,  reconoce las voces de Allard y Crewe, sin ser visto. Por lo que él puede escuchar, ambos creen que Travers sería el testigo ideal de una broma que están perpetrando. A la mañana siguiente Travers recibe una carta de Allard invitándole a pasar la noche del próximo miércoles en su casa de campo The Covers, donde habrá un grupo de personas realmente peculiares y seguramente pasarán un buen rato. Además, también tendrán tiempo para analizar más a fondo los términos del arrendamiento en vista de algunas circunstancias nuevas que han surgido. A pesar de sus sospechas, Travers hace lo que siente que es la cosa más absurda que puede hacer. Acepta agradecido y decide llevar con él a su hombre Palmer. El miércoles por la mañana, los periódicos traen la noticia de que el Sr. Charles Crewe, que se aloja en The Covers, con el famoso deportista Courtney Allard, acababa de recibir una nueva carta que reduce el tiempo de su muerte a veinticuatro horas. Lo más sospechoso de todo este asunto es que el día siguiente es el primero de abril. Pero todo se vuelve más complicado cuando el primero de abril, Crewe es encontrado muerto, apuñalado, en su habitación, cuando se suponía que todo sólo era una broma. Además, cuando Travers baja las escaleras para llamar a la policía, se escucha un disparo y Allard también es encontrado muerto. La hipótesis de un suicidio puede descartarse por completo ya que el arma homicida no aparece por ninguna parte.

Ciertamente he disfrutado leyendo El caso del día de los inocentes y me gustaría agradecer a todos aquellos, cuyas críticas y entradas de blog menciono, por haberme animado a leer este libro. Me gustaría destacar en particular el esfuerzo realizado por Dean Street Press para volver a publicar las novelas de Christopher Bush con una introducción de Curt Evans, espero que haya merecido la pena.

Sería presuntuoso por mi parte considerar esta novela, la primera que he leído en la serie protagonizada por Ludovico Travers, una obra maestra. Incluso para mi gusto, he encontrado algunos pequeños detalles un poco exagerados. Sin embargo, es una buena novela y un excelente ejemplo de la “humdrum school” de las novelas de detectives. También es el noveno libro de una serie que abarca 42 años y un total de 61 libros de los cuales, por lo que sé, no todos tienen la misma calidad, pero ciertamente espero leer algunos de sus libros más interesantes. En resumen, como experiencia de lectura fue fascinante. La historia está muy bien elaborada, el autor juega limpio, y la trama es lo suficientemente compleja como para interesar al lector. Incluso si la solución no te sorprende, he encontrado la historia inteligente y atractiva. No creo que sea estropear demasiado añadir que, por extraño que parezca, será el detective profesional encargado del caso quien descubra la solución del enigma, en lugar del detective aficionado.

Sobre el autor: Christopher Bush nació Charlie Christmas Bush en Norfolk en 1885. Su padre era un trabajador agrícola y su madre hacía sombreros. En los primeros años de su niñez vivió con sus tíos en Londres antes de regresar a Norfolk a la edad de siete años, y mñas tarde consiguió una beca de la escuela primaria de Thetford. De adulto, Bush trabajó como maestro de escuela durante 27 años, haciendo una pausa solo para luchar en la Primera Guerra Mundial, hasta retirarse a los 46 años en 1931 para dedicarse a escribir a tiempo completo. Su primera novela protagonizada por el excéntrico Ludovico Travers fue publicada en 1926, y fue seguida de 62 misterios adicionales de Travers. Todas ellas volverán a ser reeditadas por Dean Street Press. Christopher Bush luchó nuevamente en la Segunda Guerra Mundial y fue elegido miembro del prestigioso Detection Club. Murió en 1973. (Fuente: Amazon)

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

A Crime is Afoot: January 2018 Leisure Reading

leisure_readingIn January 2018 I’ve read:

Appointment with Death, 1938 (Hercule Poirot #16) by Agatha Christie (A+)

Sad Cypress, 1940 (Hercule Poirot #18) by Agatha Christie (Revisited) (B)

Maigret and the Tall Woman, 1951 (Inspector Maigret #38) by Georges Simenon (Trans: David Watson) (A)

The Late Show (2017), by Michael Connelly (A)

A Nest of Vipers (Inspector Montalbano mysteries Book 21), by Andrea Camilleri. Trans.: Stephen Sartarelli (A)

The Case Of The April Fools (1933) by Christopher Bush (#9 in Ludovic Travers) my review will be ready soon

Have Mercy on Us All, 2001 (Adamsberg #3) by Ferd Vargas (Tran: David Bellos) my review will be ready soon

A Crime is Afoot: November & December 2017 Leisure Reading

leisure_readingDuring the last two months I managed to read and review:

Wolves in the Dark (2004), by Gunnar Staalessen (trans. Don Bartlett) (A+)

Prussian Blue (2017) by Philip Kerr (A)

Maigret Takes a Room, 1951 (Inspector Maigret #37) by Georges Simenon (Trans: Shaun Whiteside) (A)

Death on the Nile, 1937 (Hercule Poirot #15) by Agatha Christie (A+)

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, 1938 (Hercule Poirot #17) by Agatha Christie (A+)

The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding: A Hercule Poirot Short Story, 1960 (Hercule Poirot Series), by Agatha Christie (C)

Film Notes: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) directed and written by Martin McDonagh

US –UK / 115 min / Color / Blueprint Pictures Dir: Martin McDonagh Pro: Graham Broadbent, Peter Czernin, Martin McDonagh Scr: Martin McDonagh Cin: Ben Davis Mus: Carter Burwell Cast: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Abbie Cornish, Lucas Hedges, Zeljko Ivanek, Caleb Landry Jones, Clarke Peters, Samara Weaving, John Hawkes, Peter Dinklage, Sandy Martin, Amanda Warren, Brendan Sexton III, Kerry Condon, Kathryn Newton, Darrell Britt-Gibson Synopsis: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a darkly comedic drama from Academy Award® winner Martin McDonagh (In Bruges). After months have passed without a culprit in her daughter’s murder case, Mildred Hayes (Academy Award® winner Frances McDormand) makes a bold move, commissioning three signs leading into her town with a controversial message directed at William Willoughby (Academy Award® nominee Woody Harrelson), the town’s revered chief of police. When his second-in-command Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell), an immature mother’s boy with a penchant for violence, gets involved, the battle between Mildred and Ebbing’s law enforcement is only exacerbated.(Source: Fox Searchlight Pictures) Release dates: 4 September 2017 (Venice Film Festival) 10 September 2017 (Toronto International  Film Festival) 20 September 2017 (Helsinki International Film Festival) 24 September 2017 (Donostia-San Sebastian International Film Festival) 10 November 2017 (USA) 12 January 2018 (Spain and UK) Spanish title: Tres anuncios en las afueras IMDb Rating:  8.3.

Begoña and I had the opportunity to watch yesterday Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, one of these films that makes you love the cinema. Something I badly needed, after a very disappointing film we went to see lately.

MV5BZTZjYzU2NTktNTdmNi00OTM0LTg5MDgtNGFjOGMzNjY0MDk5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTMxODk2OTU@._V1_SX675_CR0,0,675,999_AL_McDonagh was inspired to write Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri after seeing billboards about an unsolved crime while traveling “somewhere down in the Georgia, Florida, Alabama corner“. Of the event that inspired the film, McDonagh stated “the rage that put a bunch of billboards like that up was palpable and stayed with me“. Eventually he was inspired to create a fictional scenario around such a situation, noting, “Once I decided, in my head, that it was a mother, everything fell into place.” The character of Mildred was written with Frances McDormand in mind. McDormand initially wanted the character to be a grandmother which McDonagh disagreed with, feeling that it would change the story too much. Eventually McDormand’s husband Joel Coen convinced her to take the part regardless. McDormand took inspiration for her character from John Wayne. This eventually inspired Sam Rockwell to take inspiration for his character in part from Wayne’s co-star in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Lee Marvin, noting that he wanted to make his character “the exact opposite” of Mildred.  As with Mildred being written for McDormand, the character of Dixon was specifically written for Rockwell. (Source: Wikipedia)

Martin McDonagh (who won an Academy Award for his debut short film) has created a darkly comic drama that is smart, narratively unpredictable, and filled with superb performances. As with McDonagh’s previous work (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths) the focus of Three Billboardsis on character-driven plot. Even McDonagh’s most irredeemable characters are momentarily sympathetic and evolving, allowing us to embrace the hopefulness that implies. On its surface, Three Billboards is a film about grief, forgiveness, anger, and resilience. Yet McDonagh layers in myriad observational moments about racism, war, sexism, and a deeply divided society, all captured in this fictional Missouri town. Ever present is a low-simmering tension that occasionally bursts into violence but always in the service of releasing emotion that a character is unable to articulate. (Source: TIFF, written by Jane Schoettle)

About the director: Martin McDonagh was born in London to Irish parents. He is a renowned playwright and filmmaker, and won an Academy Award for his debut short, Six Shooter (06). He subsequently directed In Bruges (08) and Seven Psychopaths (12), which played at the Festival and received the Midnight Madness People’s Choice Award. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (17) is his latest feature.

Martin McDonagh on Directing ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ and Writing for Frances McDormand

Martin McDonagh on the real-life inspiration behind ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’

The Hollywood Reporter

Review: A Nest of Vipers (Inspector Montalbano mysteries Book 21), by Andrea Camilleri. Trans.: Stephen Sartarelli

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Mantle, 2017. Format: Kindel edition. File size: 1872 KB, Print Length: 274 pages. Originally published as Un covo di vipere by Sallerio Editore in 2013, though it was written in 2008. Translated by Stephen Sartarelli. ISBN: 978-1-4472-6600-6. ASIN: B06WVJ3X1H.

9781447265986a nest of vipers_6_jpg_266_400A Nest of Vipers is the twenty-first novel in Andrea Camilleri’s irresistible Inspector Montalbano series. Quite a family, you had to admit! A nest of vipers might be a better description . . .

Synopsis: On what should be a quiet Sunday morning, Inspector Montalbano is called to a murder scene on the Sicilian coast. A man has discovered his father dead in his Vigàtan beach house: his body slumped on the dining room floor, his morning coffee spilt across the table, and a single gunshot wound at the base of his skull. First appearances point to the son having the most to gain from his father’s untimely death, a notion his sister can’t help but reinforce. But when Montalbano delves deeper into the case, and learns of the dishonourable life the victim led, it soon becomes clear half of Vigàta has a motive for his murder and this won’t be as simple as the Inspector had once hoped…

My take: It is well known that Andrea Camilleri, above all, is a dramatist, a man of theatre. This facet becomes evident in the importance of the dialogues in his novels, to the point that we might say his novels are driven by its dialogues. This is also one of the reasons that explains the success of the TV series based on his character, Montalbano. But in this novel in particular, I’ve noticed a certain degree of thematic similarity with a classical Greek tragedy. Though allow me not to say anything else to avoid giving away too many details of the story.

I fully agree with Ricardo Bosque (see below his review at Calibre.38) when he writes that although reading Montalbano is to read the same story over and over, however there’s is nothing more pleasant than visiting an old friend. The important thing is to feel at home, to enjoy a perfect structure, uncomplicated, full of great characters and better dialogues, nimble and witty.  In a nutshell, a Montalbano novel is the best antidote against boredom and apathy and certainly helps to overcome any reading tedium we might have fallen into.

Needless to say I’m looking forward to meeting Montalbano once again.

My rating: A (I loved it)

About the author: Andrea Camilleri is one of Italy’s most famous contemporary writers. The Inspector Montalbano series has been translated into thirty-two languages and was adapted for Italian television, screened on BBC4. The Potter’s Field, the thirteenth book in the series, was awarded the Crime Writers’ Association’s International Dagger for the best crime novel translated into English. He lives in Rome.

About the translator: Stephen Sartarelli is a contemporary poet and prize-winning translator. He has written three books of poetry and translated over forty works of fiction and poetry, focusing on French and Italian. Though born in Ohio, he currently lives with his wife in southern France.

A Nest of Vipers has been reviewed at the crime segments.

Panmacmillan publicity page

Penguin Random House publicity page 

Un covo di vipere, Sellerio publicty page 

An Interview with Andrea Camilleri


Un nido de víboras, de Andrea Camilleri

Un nido de víboras es la vigesimoprimera novela de la irresistible serie protagonizada por el Inspector Montalbano de Andrea Camilleri ¡Una gran familia, débe admitir! Un nido de víboras podría ser una descripción. mejor….

Sinopsis: En la que debería ser una tranquila mañana de domingo, el inspector Montalbano acude a la  escena de un asesinato en la costa siciliana. Un hombre ha descubierto a su padre muerto en su casa de la playa en Vigàta: su cuerpo desplomado en el suelo del comedor, su café mañanero derramado sobre la mesa y una sola herida de bala en la base de su cráneo. Las primeras apariencias apuntan a que es el hijo quien tiene más que ganar con la muerte prematura de su padre, una idea que su hermana no puede más que reafirmar. Pero cuando Montalbano profundiza en el caso, y se entera de la vida deshonrosa que llevaba la víctima, pronto queda claro que la mitad de Vigàta tiene un móvil para asesinarlo y el caso no será tan simple como el Inspector esperaba …

Mi opinión: Es bien sabido que Andrea Camilleri es, sobre todo, un dramaturgo, un hombre de teatro. Esta faceta se hace evidente en la importancia de los diálogos en sus novelas, al punto que podríamos decir que sus novelas están impulsadas por sus diálogos. Esta es también una de las razones que explica el éxito de la serie de televisión basada en su personaje, Montalbano. Pero en esta novela en particular, he notado un cierto grado de similitud temática con una tragedia griega clásica. Aunque permítanme no decir nada más para evitar dar demasiados detalles de la historia

Estoy completamente de acuerdo con Ricardo Bosque (ver abajo su reseña en Calibre.38) cuando escribe que aunque leer a Montalbano es leer una y otra vez la misma historia, sin embargo, no hay nada más agradable que visitar a un viejo amigo. Lo importante es sentirse como en casa, disfrutar de una estructura perfecta, sin complicaciones, llena de grandes personajes y mejores diálogos, ágiles e ingeniosos. En pocas palabras, una novela de Montalbano es el mejor antídoto contra el aburrimiento y la apatía, y ciertamente ayuda a superar cualquier tedio de lectura en el que hayamos podido caer.

No hace falta añadir que estoy deseando encontrarme nuevamente con Montalbano.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Sobre el autor: Andrea Camilleri nació en 1925 en Porto Empedocle, provincia de Agrigento, Sicilia, y actualmente vive en Roma, donde impartió clases en la Academia de Arte Dramático. Durante cuarenta años fue guionista y director de teatro y televisión. En 1994 crea el personaje de Salvo Montalbano, el entrañable comisario siciliano protagonista de una serie que en la actualidad consta de veintiséis novelas. Todos sus libros ocupan habitualmente el primer puesto en las principales listas de éxitos italianas. Andrea Camilleri es hoy el escritor más popular de Italia y uno de los más leídos de Europa. En 2014 fue galardonado con el IX Premio Pepe Carvalho.

Un nido de víboras ha sido reseñada en Calibre.38, Solo Novela Negra, y Mis queridos sabuesos, entre otros.

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