The Case Of The Dead Shepherd by Christopher Bush

After Tom Brown’s Body, we have another trip to school – this time to Woodgate School, a state school that doesn’t impress Ludovic Travers, invited along by Inspector Wharton to help investigate the poisoning of a schoolmaster. Unlike Mrs Bradley, Travers is off to a county school, a secondary school for the non-fee-paying majority.

Mr Tennant was found dying in the staffroom, clutching a large book to his chest. He had helped himself to the headmaster’s special tea, but someone had decided to make this an extra special brew. The headmaster is soon found in the school grounds with his head bashed in, but, despite his unpopularity, who would kill a headmaster? [Note to teaching colleagues: don’t answer that.]

Another from Christopher Bush, this being his twelfth book, thankfully re-released by Dean St Press along with the rest of his first twenty – with the rest to come soon, by the way – and it’s a bit of a cracker. Again, I’m pushed for time due to the multitude of other books that I need to review, but I want to take a moment to praise this one.

First off, it’s a nice change to read a Golden Age school-based book where the school isn’t a massively posh public school where all the teachers are from Oxbridge. The school still seems unnaturally small with a staff of no more than ten teachers, but the school feels like a real place to me.

Travers also is on good form here, forming a relationship with the Deputy Head in his efforts to get to the bottom of the mystery, a mystery that I felt had some emotional wallop as well as being rather clever. The story rattles along nicely, extremely readable and gives plenty of suspects for the reader to think about.

All in all, I thought this was rather splendid, possibly even better than my previous favourite Bush, The Case Of The April Fools. Highly Recommended.

11 comments

  1. Glad to read you’re enjoying Bush. I know the great Punshon didn’t quite do it for you, but Bush is another favorite of mine coming from Dean Street Press. You should keep an eye out for the rather Carrian The Case of the Chinese Gong and The Case of the Missing Minutes, which is a personal favorite.

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  2. I got stalled reading April Fools – maybe because I got to the murder and began to think I knew what was going on. I will return to it someday . . . meanwhile, I just bought this one based on your review, PD, and on the love a lot of people like TomCat hold for Bush and on the fact that this teacher loves a good school mystery. We’ll see how this goes for me.

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  3. I’m glad you liked this one, not everyone who read it has. It’s one of my favorites in the second set. I think too that the setting is well done. The book may be gloomy but it feels heartfelt.

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    • Thanks. I much preferred this one to the Monday Murders – I think heartfelt is a good way to describe it. And the mystery plot is, I think, very clever. I’m curious as to why people don’t like it so much.

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