Sergeant Bobby Owen is spending the weekend at Cambers, the country seat of Lady Cambers. Well, Lord and Lady Cambers but they don’t exactly spend much time together. But in the morning, Lady Cambers is found dead – strangled. But why was she out of the house in the middle of a field?
Her jewellery has been taken but Bobby believes there’s more to it than that. Is it a husband wishing to be free of a loveless marriage? The local vicar, determined to prevent the blasphemy of a local dig? A greedy heir determined to gain his inheritance early? Or another motive lurking beneath the surface? Bobby has to get to the bottom of things while treading carefully – he is out of his Scotland Yard jurisdiction and the local police may have other ideas.
Book six of the Bobby Owen series and the first of the second tranche of releases from Dean St Press. This was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. I’ve already taken a run at Crossword Mystery – the third book – and rather enjoyed that one. And this one is very much in the same vein.
There is an odd section after the murder where the investigators spend a lot of time speculating rather than investigating, but things soon pick up. There some very interesting bits and Punshon takes his time establishing his characters. He’s clearly just read a book about evolution with some very interesting discussions on that topic from one character.
Owen is very meticulous in citing his theories and Punshon plays very fair with the reader. I found the ending satisfying and surprising in an odd sort of a way. I’m looking forward to reading more of the series – it’s a fair bit more straightforward than some other Golden Age stories, but it’s enjoyable all the same. Recommended.
By common consent among the people I’ve spoken to about these, ..Cambers is held up as among the highlights of this series. I started with Information Received, the first book, but stumbled on some hideously clunky foreshadowing and clewing early on that pretty much gave the game away and have yet to return to Punshon. Good to know that this is worth a read, however, so many thanks!
Really glad to hear this is worthwhile as the author is a complete unknown to me – ta!
A Bobby Owens Mystery # 05 (1935): Death Comes to Cambers by a source I found
90% sure it’s Book Six – Death Of A Beauty Queen (book 5) was published in the same year, but in January. Certainly the publishers are treating it as Book Six, but there was the same confusion over Crossword Mystery due to another book being published in the same year.
My favorite is DIABOLIC CANDELABRA. Nothing I’ve read by Punshon comes close to being as fully engrossing and entertaining as that one. I thought …CAMBERS was sort of a slog to get through. I’d rate it a C+ while DIABOLIC CANDELABRA is an A++.
To settle the quibbling about where this book falls in the chronology, here are the dates of publication for the UK first editions of the first six Bobby Owens books:
Information Received – 1933
Death Among the Sunbathers – March 1934
The Crossword Mystery – May 1934
Mystery Villa – Nov 1934
Death of a Beauty Queen – May 1935
Death Comes to Cambers – Nov 1935
That makes …CAMBERS #6.
The expert speaks – it’s Book 6! Which number is Diabolic Candelabra?
#17 published in 1942. You can buy a copy of a reprint edition from Ramble House now via their website or amazon.com. Not sure if they sell via amazon.co.uk. And their edition of Diabolic Candelabra comes only in paperback or hardcover, no digital version. Dean Street Press plans to release four more Punshon mysteries in December but they stop at #15 – TEN STAR CLUES. If they continue with all the Sgt. Bobby Owens books then you’ll have to wait until next year before you see their reprint edition of Diabolic Candelabra.
Interesting review. I’ve only read one Punshon novel so far, Helen Passes and I quite enjoyed it. Are there any you would particularly recommend from Punshon?
I’ve only reviewed the two on the blog so far. I think “quite enjoyed it” sums it up. It’s an interesting read but I’m not racing to read the next one. I will, in a few weeks or so, but it doesn’t generate a sense of urgency.
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Ah, having only read the one, I was just wondering how other novels of his fared and whether some were a more engaging read than others. Think I’ll hold off buying any Punshon at full price.
I was thinking of reading this book but I lost interest after seeing that John has rated it as C+. You also say simply “Recommended” and not “Highly Recommended” !
Instead, I have obtained The Dusky Hour and will be reading it soon.
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