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).

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(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)

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).

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(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.

My Book Notes: The Perfect Murder Case, 1929 (Ludovic Travers #2) by Christopher Bush

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Dean Street Press, 2017. Book Format: Kindle edition. File Size: 1302 KB. Print Length: 243 pages. ASIN: B075MN556Q. eISBN: 978-1-911579-68-7. The Perfect Murder Case was originally published in 1929. This new edition features an introduction by crime fiction historian Curtis Evans.

51TeSblQV LI am going to commit a murder. I offer no apology for the curtness of the statement.

Book Description: An individual taking the name ‘Marius’ boasts in a series of letters that he will commit the Perfect Murder, daring Scotland Yard detectives to catch him if they can. Ex-CID officer John Franklin and the amateur but astute detective Ludovic Travers will need to draw conclusions from a soiled letter, a locked room murder, four cast-iron alibis, and trips to France, in a feverish search for the killer and proof of his misdeeds—before ‘Marius’ can strike again.

My take: After a series of episodes in the first chapter that appear to have no relation whatsoever on the subsequent story and whose real meaning the reader will only discover later, the story begins one 7th of October 193––. On that date the press and New Scotland Yard receive a letter from someone calling himself ‘Marius’ that reads: ‘I am going to commit a murder.’ Subsequently, the sender explains that ‘by announcing it therefore I give the law due warning and a fair chance. If I am caught the law will demand my neck; nevertheless by giving the law its sporting chance I raise the affair from the brutal to the human.’ The mysterious sender then adds: ‘I venture for instance to call the murder I am about to commit “The Perfect Murder”. And he concludes stating that: ‘the murder will take place on the night of the 11th inst. and in a district of London north of the Thames.’

Despite the precautions taken, Scotland Yard fails to prevent the murder. On the specified date, Harold Richleigh is found stabbed to death in his own home. The motives for the murder turn out too obvious, but each and every suspect have flawless alibis. The subsequent investigation seems to lead nowhere. Then is when Sir Francis Weston, a successful businessman, sees an opportunity to launch his own private enquiry agency, given the great popularity of the case. For this reason, he hires John Franklin, a former policeman, to take over a new unit within his organisation, Durangos Limited. As it might be expected, Franklin will come out successfully of this challenge with the assistance of Ludovic Travers, the company’s financial wizard.

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 the author before us today. Christopher Bush, between 1926 and 1968, published 63 books in this series. And once I read The Case Of The April Fools, 1933 (Ludovic Travers #9), I had to face myself to this dilemma. An additional difficulty was the fact that Dean Street Press was 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 the websites I’m showing below, I have been able to draw up the following list of  books that, to begin with, seem the most interesting to me in the series: Dancing Death, 1931(Ludovic Travers #5);  Cut Throat, 1932 (Ludovic Travers #7); and The Case of the Three Strange Faces, 1933 (Ludovic Travers #10).

Getting back to The Perfect Murder Case I would like to highlight that its importance lies in that it sets the template for whodunits in which a killer plays a game with the police, as Martin Edwards has already pointed out before. If only for this reason alone, the interest for reading this novel is more than fully justified. But above all, for my taste, it is an extremely entertaining reading with a well crafted plot. The story itself is quite intriguing and the mystery is neatly solved.

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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. Christopher Bush fought again in World War Two, and 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 He died in 1973. (Source: Dean Street Press)

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)

My rating: A ( I loved it)

The Perfect Murder Case has been reviewed at gadetection, Northern Reader, The Grandest Game in the World, Mystery File, Mike Grost, ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’, 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 asesinato perfecto, de Christopher Bush

Voy a cometer un asesinato. No ofrezco disculpas por la brevedad de la declaración.

Descripción del libro: Una persona que adopta el nombre de “Marius” se jacta en una serie de cartas de que cometerá el Asesinato Perfecto, desafiando a los detectives de Scotland Yard a atraparlo si pueden. El antiguo oficial del Departamento de Investigación Criminal John Franklin y el aficionado pero astuto investigador Ludovic Travers deberán sacar conclusiones de una carta deteriorada, un asesinato en un cuarto cerrado, cuatro sólidas coartadas y viajes a Francia, en una búsqueda ferenética del asesino y de la prueba de sus fechorías, antes de que ‘Marius’ pueda atacar de nuevo.

Mi opinión: Tras una serie de episodios cortas en el primer capítulo que parecen no tener relación alguna con la historia posterior y cuyo significado real el lector solo descubrirá más tarde, la historia comienza el 7 de octubre de 193––. En esa fecha, la prensa y Nueva Scotland Yard reciben una carta de alguien que se hace llamar ‘Marius’ que dice: ‘Voy a cometer un asesinato’. Posteriormente, el remitente explica que ‘al anunciarlo, por lo tanto, le doy a la ley la debida notificación y una oportunidad razonable. Si me atrapan, la ley exigirá mi cuello; sin embargo, al darle a la ley una oportunidad única, elevo el caso de lo cruel a lo humano.’ El misterioso remitente agrega: ‘Me aventuro, por ejemplo, a llamar al asesinato que estoy a punto de cometer “El asesinato perfecto”.’ Y concluye afirmando que: ‘el asesinato tendrá lugar en la noche del 11 de este mes y en un distrito de Londres al norte del Támesis.’

A pesar de las precauciones tomadas, Scotland Yard no puede evitar el asesinato. En la fecha especificada, Harold Richleigh es encontrado apuñalado en su propia casa. Los motivos del asesinato resultan demasiado evidentes, pero todos y cada uno de los sospechosos tienen coartadas perfectas. La investigación posterior parece no llevar a ninguna parte. Entonces es cuando Sir Francis Weston, un exitoso hombre de negocios, ve la oportunidad de impulsar su propia agencia de investigación privada, dada la gran popularidad del caso. Por esta razón, contrata a John Franklin, un antiguo policía, para hacerse cargo de una nueva unidad dentro de su organización, Durangos Limited. Como era de esperar, Franklin saldrá con éxito de este desafío con la ayuda de Ludovic Travers, el mago financiero de la compañía.

Un problema al que me enfrento como lector, una vez que he identificado a un autor que me parece interesante, es seleccionar qué libro leer a continuación. Este no es un asunto trivial cuando el autor en cuestión ha sido extremadamente prolífico, como es el caso del autor que tenemos ante nosotros hoy. Christopher Bush, entre 1926 y 1968, publicó 63 libros en esta serie. Y una vez que leí The Case Of The April Fools, 1933 (Ludovic Travers # 9), tuve que enfrentarme a este dilema. Una dificultad adicional fue el hecho de que Dean Street Press estaba publicando de nuevo toda la serie, poniéndola a disposición del público en general, en formato electrónico, a precios muy asequibles. Obviamente corría un gran riesgo de comprar toda la serie sin encontrar el tiempo necesario para leerla. Algo que, por cierto, no sería la primera vez que me iba a pasar. En consecuencia, con la valiosa ayuda de los sitios web que muestro a continuación, he podido elaborar la siguiente lista de libros que, para empezar, me parecen los más interesantes de la serie: Dancing Death, 1931 (Ludovic Travers # 5); Cut Throat, 1932 (Ludovic Travers # 7); y The Case of the Three Strange Faces, 1933 (Ludovic Travers # 10).

Volviendo a The Perfect Murder Case quisiera destacar que su importancia radica en que establece el modelo para los whodunits en los que un asesino desafía con un juego a la policía, como Martin Edwards ya ha señalado antes. Aunque solo sea por esta razón, el interés por leer esta novela está más que plenamente justificado. Pero, sobre todo, para mi gusto, es una lectura extremadamente entretenida con una trama bien elaborada. La historia en sí es bastante intrigante y el misterio está perfectamente resuelto.

Sobre el autor: Christopher Bush nació Charlie Christmas Bush en Norfolk en 1885. Su padre trabajaba en una granja y su madre era sombrerera. En los primeros años de su infancia, vivió con unos tíos en Londres antes de regresar a Norfolk a los siete años, luego ganó una beca para el Thetford Grammar School. De adulto, Bush trabajó como maestro de escuela durante 27 años, interrumpidos solo para luchar en la Primera Guerra Mundial, hasta que se retiró a los 46 años en 1931 para ser novelista a tiempo completo. Su primera novela con el excéntrico Ludovic Travers se publicó en 1926 y le siguieron 62 misterios adicionales de Travers. Christopher Bush luchó nuevamente en la Segunda Guerra Mundial y fue elegido miembro del prestigioso Detection Club. Además de novelas policiacas, Bush también escribió novelas locales convencionales y novelas bélicas de misterio con el nombre de Michael Home. Murió en 1973. (Fuente: Dean Street Press)

Christopher Bush fue un incondicional de la Edad de Oro de la novela policiaca, popular por igual entre la crítica y el público. Charles Williams, junto con JRR Tolkien y CS Lewis, uno de los distinguidos “ideólogos” de Oxford, comentó con aprobación en una ocasión que “el Sr. Bush escribe acerca de unos asesinatos tan verdaderamente entretenidos como cualquiera que yo sepa”. Además, la autoridad contemporánea de Barry Pike ha resumido acertadamente el atractivo de las novelas policiacas de Bush, a quien llama “uno de los más solventes y capaces entre los verdaderos escritores policiacos”, como la “época dorada del barroco”, retrata de forma singular algunas extraordinarias fantasías.” Más recientemente, el bloguero Nick Fuller ha destacado el habitual ingenio de Bush, comparándolo, como diestro en el problema de la coartada, con el gran señor del misterio del cuarto cerrado, John Dickson Carr. (Fuente: The Passing Tramp).

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

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

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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

and http://mikegrost.com/coles.htm#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)

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