When Ludovic Travers and Superintendent Wharton get a little lost when out for a drive, they end up helping a distressed young lady. She is concerned that her mistress, the actress Mary Legreye has not kept an appointment. Travers and Wharton offer to stop by Legreye’s cottage, but are not prepared for what they find.
Mary’s handyman and Mary herself are both dead, poisoned, poison which was apparently self-administered. But why was Mary found sitting upright in a throne-like chair, mimicking her most famous role as Mary Tudor? With no real evidence other than a suspicion, is it possible that it was simply an odd case of suicide? Or was it a cunning murderer who looks like they are going to get away with it?
Christopher Bush was… well, another author like Brian Flynn who escaped getting mentioned in Twentieth Century Crime and Mystery Writers – seriously, it’s a great book for those who get a mention, but there are some serious gaps in it. But Bush is pretty obscure, despite writing over fifty books (including the wonderfully titled The Case Of The Flying Ass). He’s lacking a Wikipedia page, but there is a reference on gadetection here. According to the back of this one, his books were published in America and in “every European country outside the Iron Curtain”. Which is nice.
I have to thank my Secret Santa for this one – the first of six Green Penguins – and I can’t help but think it was chosen with the title, given my bent for Historical Crime Fiction, despite this not being an historical. And while I appreciate the chance to experience yet another obscure Golden Age crime writer, I can’t avoid the fact that this one is a bit on the crap side.
Why? Well, it’s very talky with Travers and Wharton, both of whom hardly light up the page, spending a lot of time debating whether there is really a case to investigate or not and then checking and re-checking alibis. It’s a bit of a railway-timetable-esque tale with it taking an age for the murderer to finally give themselves away. It also doesn’t help that the suspects are as dull as dishwater, and despite one really clever idea – namely why Mary is found posed on a throne – it’s not enough to save this one.
So, a disappointment to be honest. Unlike Brian Flynn, who’s Mystery Of The Peacock’s Eye I couldn’t put down, there were times where I had trouble picking this one up. So one less author to obsess over… Oh, this one isn’t recommended, btw…