My Book Notes: The Case of the Murdered Major, 1941 (Ludovic Travers #23 ) by Christopher Bush

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Dean Street Press, 2018. Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 1689 KB. Print Length: 222 pages. ASIN: B07DP5HLCP. eISBN: 978-1-912574-12-4 . The Case of the Murdered Major was originally published in 1941. This new edition features an introduction by crime fiction historian Curtis Evans.

51Z 1J4ag3LDescription: There were difficulties from the first day the blustering and objectionable Major Stirrop set foot in the Prisoner-of-War camp. Captain Ludovic Travers, his adjutant, saw trouble—dire trouble—looming ever nearer. For there was something sinister about the camp, and there were strange happenings among the prisoners. One day, when Travers was making his count, there was one prisoner too many; the next the numbers tallied rightly—only to be wrong again within an hour or two. An escape plan is uncovered, and then Major Stirrop was murdered. And not only the Major—for another strange death is later brought to light. Travers will join forces once more with his old friend Superintendent George Wharton to get to the bottom of this mystery, one of Christopher Bush’s most intriguing and thrilling. (Source: Dean Street Press)

My Take: The Case of the Murdered Major is the first book in a trilogy composed by The Case of the Kidnapped Colonel (1942) and The Case of the Fighting Soldier (1942), which, according to mystery historian Curtis Evans, are based on Bush’s own experiences during the war. In line with what Curtis Evans himself advances us on the introduction the story begins by detailing both Ludo’s experience in the Great War and his life between the wars up to his recent marriage with Berenice Haire. But now, following the recent declaration of war against Nazi Germany, Ludo has been offered an appointment as Adjutant Quartermaster (rank of Captain) at No. 54 Prisoner of War Camp in the city of Shoreleigh, that Ludo accepts. In this way, the story unfolds in a closed community, a POW camp, located in a Victorian style monstrous building that was formerly a hospital. A place like this will soon become a hotbed of intrigue, jealousy and discontent, emotions that will become aggravated by the incompetence of the commanding officer, Major Percival Stirrop, an unpredictable and unpleasant man who lacks all leadership capacity. As tensions increases and the first POWs arrive, Travers finds himself with his hands full making sure that everything would run smoothly. Until one day the inevitable happens. Stirrop is found dead, lying on the snow and with no footprints around him. Fortunately, George Wharton of Scotland Yard appears on the scene and, in this occasion, he will be the one to take over the investigation, while Travers assumes the functions of commanding officer of the POW camp.

Within the Ludovic Travers book series, as far as I understand, this is quite a peculiar instalment. Besides the fact that the investigation is carried out mainly by George Wharton, the story is narrated in the third person by an omniscient voice, which is quite an exception in the series. But be it as it may, this was an excellent reading experience. The story is exciting, superbly constructed, and it is set against an historical background extremely interesting and unknown to me. It has kept me hooked since its first pages and even though it can’t be considered as a whole an impossible crime, it is very close from being so. I’m looking forward to reading the next two books in the trilogy. Stay tuned.

My Rating: A+ (Don’t delay, get your hands on a copy of this book)

The Case of the Murdered Major has been reviewed, among others, at The Passing Tramp, Beneath The Stains Of Time, In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, Classic Mysteries, The Grandest Game in the World, and Northern Reader.

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)

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).


(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Cassell (UK), 1941) 

Dean Street Press Publicity Page

Back in the Bushes: The Christopher Bush Detective Novels Reissued

Christopher Bush at the Golden Age of Detection Wiki

Mike Nevins on British mystery writer Christopher Bush

El caso del comandante asesinado, de Christopher Bush

Descripción: Desde el primer día en que el fanfarrón y desagradable comandante Stirrop pisó el campo de prisioneros de guerra hubo dificultades. El capitán Ludovic Travers, su ayudante, divisó problemas, graves problemas, a la vuelta de la esquina. Porque había algo siniestro en el campo y ocurrieron extraños sucesos entre los prisioneros. Un día, cuando Travers estaba contando, había un prisionero de más; al siguiente, el número volvía a cuadrar, solo para volver a estar mal al cabo de una hora o dos. Se descubre un plan de fuga. y luego el comandante Stirrop fue asesinado. Y no solo el gomandante, porque otra muerte extraña sale a la luz más tarde. Travers unirá fuerzas una vez más con su viejo amigo el superintendente George Wharton para llegar al fondo de este misterio, uno de los más fascinantes y emocionantes de Christopher Bush. (Fuente: Dean Street Press)

Mi opinión: The Case of the Murdered Major es el primer libro de una trilogía compuesta por The Case of the Kidnapped Colonel (1942) y The Case of the Fighting Soldier (1942), que, según el historiador del género de  misterio Curtis Evans, se basan en las propias experiencias de Bush. durante la guerra. De acuerdo con lo que el propio Curtis Evans nos adelanta en la introducción, la historia comienza detallando tanto la experiencia de Ludo en la Gran Guerra como su vida entre guerras hasta su reciente matrimonio con Berenice Haire. Pero ahora, tras la reciente declaración de guerra contra la Alemania nazi, a Ludo se le ha ofrecido un puesto como ayudante de intendencia (con rango de capitán) en el campo de prisioneros de guerra número 54 en la ciudad de Shoreleigh, que Ludo acepta. De esta manera, la historia se desarrolla en una comunidad cerrada, un campo de prisioneros de guerra, ubicado en un monstruoso edificio de estilo victoriano que anteriormente fue un hospital. Un lugar como este pronto se convertirá en un hervidero de intrigas, celos y descontento, emociones que se agravarán por la incompetencia del comandante en jefe, el comandante Percival Stirrop, un hombre impredecible y desagradable que carece de toda capacidad de liderazgo. A medida que aumentan las tensiones y llegan los primeros prisioneros de guerra, Travers se encuentra con las manos ocupadas asegurándose de que todo funcione sin problemas. Hasta que un día sucede lo inevitable. Stirrop es encontrado muerto, tendido en la nieve y sin huellas a su alrededor. Afortunadamente, aparece en escena George Wharton de Scotland Yard y, en esta ocasión, será él quien se haga cargo de la investigación, mientras que Travers asume las funciones de comandante en jefe del campo de prisioneros de guerra.

Dentro de la serie de libros de Ludovic Travers, hasta donde tengo entendido, esta es una entrega bastante peculiar. Además de que la investigación la lleva a cabo principalmente George Wharton, la historia está narrada en tercera persona por una voz omnisciente, lo que constituye toda una excepción en la serie. Pero sea como sea, esta fue una excelente experiencia de lectura. La historia es emocionante, está magníficamente construida y tiene un trasfondo histórico extremadamente interesante y desconocido para mí. Me ha enganchado desde sus primeras páginas y aunque no puede considerarse en su conjunto un crimen imposible, está muy cerca de serlo. Tengo muchas ganas de leer los dos próximos libros de la trilogía. Manténganse en sintonía.

Mi valoración: A+ (No se demore, consiga un ejemplar de este libro)

Sobre el autor: Christopher Bush nació Charlie Christmas Bush en Norfolk en 1885. Su padre era un obrero agrícola y su madre una sombrerera. En los primeros años de su infancia vivió con su tía y su tío en Londres antes de regresar a Norfolk a la edad de siete años, y más tarde ganó una beca para el Thetford Grammar School. De adulto, Bush trabajó como maestro durante 27 años, haciendo una pausa solo para luchar en la Primera Guerra Mundial, hasta que se jubiló a los 46 años en 1931 para convertirse en novelista a tiempo completo. Su primera novela protagonizada por el excéntrico Ludovic Travers se publicó en 1926, y fue seguida de otras 62 novelas más de Travers. Todas ellas serán reeditados por Dean Street Press. Christopher Bush volvió a luchar en la Segunda Guerra Mundial y fue elegido miembro del prestigioso Detection Club. Murió en 1973. (Fuente: Dean Street Press)