My Book Notes: Tread Softly, 1937 (Anthony Bathurst Mysteries # 20) by Brian Flynn


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Dean Street Press, 2020. Book Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 1085 KB. Print Length: 208 pages. ASIN: B08F6YT7HN. eISBN: 978 1 913527 58 7. Originally published in the UK by John Long in 1937, and in the US by Mill in 1938. This new edition features an introduction by crime fiction historian Steve Barge.

“This man Merivale admits that he killed his wife. Makes no bones about it whatever. Confesses that he strangled her. But he says that he was fast asleep at the time that he was doing it. That all he did, he did in a dream.”

54834704._SY475_Description: Chief Inspector MacMorran is up against the most extraordinary case of his career – a self-confessed killer who may well be found innocent given the circumstances. MacMorran is sure that Merivale is the murderer, but, worried about exoneration in court, he recruits investigator Anthony Bathurst to find evidence to convict. Bathurst isn’t convinced. If Merivale killed his wife deliberately, why pick such a risky story which is just as likely to convict as clear him? But if Merivale is innocent, was a third party involved? And if so – how? Tread Softly was first published in 1937. This new edition features an introduction by Steve Barge.

My Take: At first it all seems pretty straightforward. A famous stage and film actor, Claude Merivale, gives himself in to the police for killing his wife, Vera. He confesses he had strangled her. However, the most amazing thing about this case is that he claims he was sound asleep while he did it, that all he did was in a dream. Merivale assures he remembers almost everything about his dream. He was being attacked by a number of people and all he did was defend himself by fighting against them. In the struggle, he turned to the sleeping woman next to him and strangled her, in a state that he describes as semi-conscious unconsciousness. His story was investigated by Scotland Yard and found to be true. Mrs Merivale was found dead in bed, strangled. As soon as the day dawned, Merivale had gone to confess the crime.The bedroom door was locked, Merivale himself had locked it, as he told, when he gave himself in and he handed them the key with which they unlocked the door. There was nothing in the house that could suggest any other thing. Chief Inspector Andrew MacMorran is convinced that Merivale killed his wife deliberately, but he’s afraid that his defence could be strengthened by hard medical evidence to the contrary and he worries that on the trial that will take place could be acquitted. For this reason he turns to his friend Anthony Bathurst for assistance that could confirm his suspicions. The story has two clearly differentiated parts. The first one extends until the trial and concludes with the verdict. In the second, Anthony Bathurst, unsatisfied with the outcome of the trial decides to continue his investigation on his own account in search of the truth.

I must admit, I found this story quite uneven. While the first part until the trial got me bored at times, fortunately everything changes during its second part and I found the outcome of the story very rewarding and even memorable. I’m sorry to say I’m not as enthusiastic of this book as Steve Barge and other fellow bloggers, but in any case it is a worthy addition to the series. In itself it is a good demonstration that Brian Flynn liked to explore new territories, and thus avoiding to fall into formulas. Of this, this book is a good example. I look forward to the next batch of Anthony Bathurst Mysteries that will go on sale as from 6 September 2021 (books 21 to 30).

Tread Softly has been reviewed, among others, by Steve Barge at In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, Kate Jackson at Cross-Examining Crime,TomCat at Beneath the Stains of Time, Dead Yesterday, Aidan at Mysteries Ahoy! and Les Blatt at Classic Mysteries.

About the Author: Brian Flynn was born in 1885 in Leyton, Essex. He won a scholarship to the City Of London School, and from there went into the civil service. In World War I he served as Special Constable on the Home Front, also teaching “Accountancy, Languages, Maths and Elocution to men, women, boys and girls” in the evenings, and acting in his spare time. It was a seaside family holiday that inspired Brian Flynn to turn his hand to writing in the mid-twenties. Finding most mystery novels of the time “mediocre in the extreme”, he decided to compose his own. Edith, the author’s wife, encouraged its completion, and after a protracted period finding a publisher, it was eventually released in 1927 by John Hamilton in the UK and Macrae Smith in the U.S. as The Billiard-Room Mystery. The author died in 1958. In all, he wrote and published 57 mysteries, the vast majority featuring the super-sleuth Anthony Bathurst. (Source: Dean Street Press)

The first twenty books in the series have been published so far by Dean Street Press are: The Billiard Room Mystery (1927); The Case Of The Black Twenty-two (1928); The Case of the Peacock’s Eye (1930) aka The Mystery Of The Peacock’s Eye; The Murders Near Mapleton (1929); The Five Red Fingers (1929); Invisible Death (1929); The Creeping Jenny Mystery (1930) aka The Crime At the Crossways; Murder en Route (1930); The Orange Axe (1931); The Triple Bite (1931); The Padded Door (1932); The Edge of Terror (1932); The Spiked Lion (1933); The League of Matthias (1934); The Horn (1934); The Case of the Purple Calf (1934) aka The Ladder Of Death; The Sussex Cuckoo (1935); The Fortescue Candle (1936); Fear and Trembling (1936) aka The Somerset Murder Case; and Tread Softly (1937). In bold the ten most recommended books.

Dean Street Press publicity page

Brian Flynn at In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel

Tread softly (Pisa con cuidado) de Brian Flynn

“Este hombre Merivale admite haber matado a su mujer. En cualquier caso no nos engañemos. Confiesa que él la estranguló. Pero dice que estaba profundamente dormido en el momento en que lo estaba haciendo. Que todo lo que hizo, lo hizo en un sueño”.

Descripción: El inspector jefe MacMorran se enfrenta al caso más extraordinario de su carrera: un asesino confeso que bien puede resultar inocente dadas las circunstancias. MacMorran está seguro de que Merivale es el asesino, pero, preocupado porque el tribunal le exculpe, contrata al investigador Anthony Bathurst para encontrar pruebas para condenarlo. Bathurst no está convencido. Si Merivale mató a su esposa deliberadamente, ¿por qué elegir una historia tan arriesgada que es tan probable que lo condene como que lo absuelva? Pero si Merivale es inocente, ¿había un tercer implicado? Y de ser así, ¿de qué manera? Tread Softly se publicó por primera vez en 1937. Esta nueva edición incluye una introducción de Steve Barge.

Mi opinión: Al principio, todo parece bastante sencillo. Un famoso actor de teatro y cine, Claude Merivale, se entrega a la policía por matar a su esposa, Vera. Confiesa que la había estrangulado. Sin embargo, lo más sorprendente de este caso es que afirma que estaba profundamente dormido mientras lo hacía, que todo lo que hizo fue en un sueño. Merivale asegura que recuerda casi todo sobre su sueño. Estaba siendo atacado por varias personas y todo lo que hizo fue defenderse luchando contra ellas. En la lucha, se volvió hacia la mujer dormida a su lado y la estranguló, en un estado que describe como inconsciencia semiconsciente. Su historia fue investigada por Scotland Yard y se encontró que era cierta. La Sra. Merivale fue encontrada muerta en la cama, estrangulada. Apenas amaneció Merivale había ido a confesar el crimen. La puerta del dormitorio estaba cerrada, el propio Merivale la había cerrado, según relató, cuando se entregó y les entregó la llave con la que abrieron la puerta. No había nada en la casa que pudiera sugerir otra cosa. El inspector jefe Andrew MacMorran está convencido de que Merivale mató a su esposa deliberadamente, pero teme que su defensa pueda fortalecerse con pruebas médicas contundentes en sentido contrario y le preocupa que en el juicio que se llevará a cabo pueda ser absuelto. Por esta razón, recurre a su amigo Anthony Bathurst en busca de ayuda que pueda confirmar sus sospechas. La historia tiene dos partes claramente diferenciadas. La primera se extiende hasta el juicio y concluye con el veredicto. En la segunda, Anthony Bathurst, insatisfecho con el resultado del juicio decide continuar su investigación por su propia cuenta en busca de la verdad.

Debo admitir que encontré esta historia bastante desigual. Si bien la primera parte hasta el juicio me aburrió por momentos, afortunadamente todo cambia durante su segunda parte y encontré el resultado de la historia muy gratificante e incluso memorable. Lamento decir que no estoy tan entusiasmado con este libro como Steve Barge y otros colegas blogueros, pero en cualquier caso es una valiosa adición a la serie. En sí mismo es una buena demostración de que a Brian Flynn le gustaba explorar nuevos territorios, y así evitar caer en fórmulas. De esto, este libro es un buen ejemplo. Espero con interés el próximo lote de Anthony Bathurst Mysteries que saldrá a la venta a partir del 6 de septiembre de 2021 (libros 21 a 30).

Sobre el autor: Brian Flynn nació en 1885 en Leyton, Essex. Obtuvo una beca para la City Of London School, aunque ingresó en el cuerpo de funcionarios civiles del Estado (ocupando el cuarto lugar de todo el país en el examen de ingreso) en lugar de ir a la universidad, la educación clásica que recibió allí claramente le acompañaron siempre. Episodios prolongados de fiebre reumática le impidieron participar activamente en la Primera Guerra Mundial, pero en cambio sirvió como agente especial de la policía en la retaguardia mientras enseñaba “contabilidad, idiomas, matemáticas y expresión oral a hombres, mujeres, niños y niñas” por las tardes, y actuaba formando parte de los Actores de Trevelyan en su tiempo libre. Fueron unas vacaciones familiares junto al mar las que le inspiraron a dedicarse a escribir a mediados de los años veinte. Al encontrar que la mayoría de las novelas de misterio de la época eran “extremadamente mediocres”, se decidió a escribir la suya propia. Edith, su mujer, le animó a terminarla, y tras un período prolongado buscando editor, John Hamilton en el Reino Unido y Macrae Smith en los Estados Unidos la publicaron en el 1927 como The Billiard-Room Mystery. Brian Flynn murió en 1958. En total, escribió y publicó 57 misterios, la gran mayoría protagonizados por el genial detective Anthony Bathurst. (Fuente: Introducción de Steve Barge y Dean Street Press).

Los primeros veinte libros de la serie que hasta ahora han sido publicados por Dean Street Press son: The Billiard Room Mystery (1927); The Case Of The Black Twenty-two (1928); The Case of the Peacock’s Eye (1930) aka The Mystery Of The Peacock’s Eye; The Murders Near Mapleton (1929); The Five Red Fingers (1929); Invisible Death (1929); The Creeping Jenny Mystery (1930) aka The Crime At the Crossways; Murder en Route (1930); The Orange Axe (1931); The Triple Bite (1931); The Padded Door (1932); The Edge of Terror (1932); The Spiked Lion (1933); The League of Matthias (1934); The Horn (1934); The Case of the Purple Calf (1934) aka The Ladder Of Death; The Sussex Cuckoo (1935); The Fortescue Candle (1936); Fear and Trembling (1936) aka The Somerset Murder Case; and Tread Softly (1937). En negrita los diez mas recomendados.

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