Lord Bygrave, a Minister, left work on Friday night, heading to the countryside for a week’s break. He checks into a small hotel… and is never seen again. No evidence of foul play, no evidence of anything, really. But a national newspaper is offering a reward for information on the Minister, dead or alive. Inspector Heather of Scotland Yard is assigned to investigate – but the executor of Lord Bygrave’s decides to look into things as well. That executor? Algernon Vereker…
As Vereker and Heather begin their parallel investigations, it seems they are going nowhere – with no trace of a body but no trace of a living Lord Bygrave either, will either of them get to the bottom of the mystery of his fate?
After an eventful life, including a spell in prison, Robin Forsythe wrote a total of eight mysteries, five featuring Vereker, of which this is the first. The others, The Polo Ground Mystery, The Spirit Murder Mystery, The Pleasure Cruise Mystery and The Ginger Cat Mystery have also been rediscovered and re-released by Dean St Press, who were nice enough to send me a copy of this one to review (which contains a nice background piece by Curtis Evans, as do all of their reprints).
So what about this one? It’s a rather fun read – Vereker is clearly learning his trade here, as he jumps from one conclusion to another, as does Heather. The structure is clever with almost every other chapter featuring Vereker and Heather meeting up to compare notes. Every time Vereker thinks he has the advantage, it seems that Heather has come to similar (but often incorrect) conclusions. Of course, by the end of the book, one of them gets the upper hand in the contest…
It’s yet another book that takes an age for a body to turn up – seems to be the month for it on the blog – and again, it mostly keeps the attention while the mystery builds up. As for the mystery itself, it is clued, although there is a certain leap that I don’t think the reader could be expected to make – indeed, Vereker needs to be told a pretty crucial fact before he realises the relevance of certain facts. And the cynical reader might ask why the crucial fact wasn’t mentioned by anyone else, since everyone apart from Vereker and Heather seem to know it.
At the end of the day, it’s a good read and yet another author, after Ianthe Jerrold, Annie Haynes, Harriet Rutland and E R Punshon, that Dean St Press have made available to readers – and at a bargain price as an ebook, too. Recommended.
PS Shouldn’t there be a question mark in the title?