Day: March 2, 2020

Christopher Bush (1885 – 1973)

866455It’s been quite a while since I read a Christopher Bush book and I feel it was the right time to update a page dedicated to him.

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. He then won a scholarship to Thetford Grammar, and went on to study modern languages at King’s College London, after which he worked as a school teacher for 27 years, before becoming a full-time writer. He served in both World Wars, reaching the rank of Major. Bush wrote sixty-three novels, all of which featured his series characters Ludovic Travers and Superintendent Wharton. UK editions precede the US and there are a couple of alternate titles. In 1937 Bush was elected a member of the prestigious Detection Club. Besides detective fiction, Bush also wrote regional mainstream novels and war thrillers under the name Michael Home and Noel Barclay. He died in 1973.

Christopher Bush was a stalwart of the Golden Age of detective fiction, popular with critics and the public alike. Charles Williams, with JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis one of Oxford’s distinguished “Inklings,” once approvingly commented that “Mr. Bush writes of as thoroughly enjoyable murders as any I know.”  Additionally, modern authority Barry Pike has aptly summarized the appeal of the detective fiction of Bush, whom he calls “one of the most reliable and resourceful of true detective writers,” as “Golden Age baroque, rendered remarkable by some extraordinary flights of fancy.”  More recently blogger Nick Fuller has noted the frequent ingenuity of Bush, comparing him, as an adept of the alibi problem, to the great lord of the locked room, John Dickson Carr. (Source: The Passing Tramp)

Christopher Bush was to the unbreakable alibi what John Dickson Carr was to the impossible crime.

One problem I’m use to face as a reader, once I have identified an author that I find interesting, is to select which book to read next. This is no trivial matter when the author in question has been extremely prolific, as it is the case of  Christopher Bush. Between 1926 and 1968 he published 63 books in his Ludovic Travers series. And after reading The Case Of The April Fools, 1933 (Ludovic Travers #9) and The Perfect Murder Case, 1929 (Ludovic Travers #2), I face myself with this dilemma. An additional difficulty was the fact that Dean Street Press is republishing the entire series, making it available to the public in general, in electronic book format, at very affordable prices. Obviously I was at a great risk of buying the entire series without finding the necessary time to read it. Something which, by the way, it would not be the first time that was going to happen to me. Consequently, with the valuable help of some websites, I was able to identify (in bold letters) the titles which interest me the most. Besides it is of interest to note that, on a first look, Bush’s best books seem to have been published in the thirties.

Bibliography: The Plumley Inheritance (1926); The Perfect Murder Case (1929); Dead Man Twice (1930); Murder at Fenwold (1930) aka The Death of Cosmo Revere; Dancing Death (1931; Dead Man’s Music (1931); Cut Throat (1932); The Case of the Unfortunate Village (1932); The Case of the April Fools (1933); The Case of the Three Strange Faces (1933) aka The Crank in the Corner; The Case of the 100% Alibis (1934) aka The Kitchen Cake Murder; The Case of the Dead Shepherd (1934) aka The Tea Tray Murders; The Case of the Chinese Gong (1935); The Case of the Monday Murders (1936) aka Murder on Monday; The Case of the Bonfire Body (1936) aka The Body in the Bonfire; The Case of the Missing Minutes (1937) aka Eight O’clock Alibi; The Case of the Hanging Rope (1937) aka The Wedding Night Murder; The Case of the Tudor Queen (1938); The Case of the Leaning Man aka The Leaning Man (1938); The Case of the Green Felt Hat (1939); The Case of the Flying Ass (1939); The Case of the Climbing Rat (1940); The Case of the Murdered Major (1941); The Case of the Kidnapped Colonel (1942); The Case of the Fighting Soldier (1942); The Case of the Magic Mirror (1943); The Case of the Running Mouse (1944); The Case of the Platinum Blonde (1944); The Case of the Corporal’s Leave (1945); The Case of the Missing Men (1946); The Case of the Second Chance (1946); The Case of the Curious Client (1947); The Case of the Haven Hotel (1948); The Case of the Housekeeper’s Hair (1948); The Case of the Seven Bells (1949); The Case of the Purloined Picture (1949); The Case of the Happy Warrior (1950) aka The Case of the Frightened Mannequin; The Case of the Corner Cottage (1951); The Case of the Fourth Detective (1951); The Case of the Happy Medium (1952); The Case of the Counterfeit Colonel (1952); The Case of the Burnt Bohemian (1953); The Case of the Silken Petticoat (1953); The Case of the Red Brunette (1954); The Case of the Three Lost Letters (1954); The Case of the Benevolent Bookie (1955); The Case of the Amateur Actor (1955); The Case of the Extra Man (1956); The Case of the Flowery Corpse (1956); The Case of the Russian Cross (1957); The Case of the Treble Twist (1958) aka The Case of the Triple Twist; The Case of the Running Man (1958); The Case of the Careless Thief (1959); The Case of the Sapphire Brooch (1960); The Case of the Extra Grave (1961); The Case of the Dead Man Gone (1961); The Case of the Three-Ring Puzzle (1962); The Case of the Heavenly Twin (1963); The Case of the Grand Alliance (1964); The Case of the Jumbo Sandwich (1965); The Case of the Good Employer (1966); The Case of the Deadly Diamonds (1967); and The Case of the Prodigal Daughter (1968).

519

(Facsimile Dust Jacket, Dead Man Twice by Christopher Bush Heinemann (UK), 1930)

“And that’s not all. Somers is dead too … He poisoned himself … in the lounge!”

The great English boxer Michael France looks set to become the new Heavyweight Champion of the world. Everyone is waiting with bated breath for the forthcoming and decisive match. Ex-CID officer John Franklin is no exception – but once the boxer is apparently murdered (twice), Franklin must join forces with Ludovic Travers once more in a layered and ingenious mystery where Michael France’s closest friends are the primary suspects – yet have cast-iron alibis. The final solution involves an ingenious and plausible murder technique, a fine demonstration of Christopher Bush’s imaginative and suspenseful plotting at its best.

Dead Man Twice was originally published in 1930. This new edition features an introduction by crime fiction historian Curtis Evans.