Review 1000 minus 2 – Death’s Bright Dart by V C Clinton-Baddeley

St Nicholas’ College, Cambridge is playing host to a small academic conference. The usual sort of thing, apart from the fact that the early conversations seem to concentrate on obscure poisons for some reasons. And then someone steals a blow pipe from a local exhibition.

Before you can say Death In The Clouds, Dr Brauer, a fellow of the college with a dark secret in his past, doesn’t make it to the end of his talk, dropping dead with a small puncture wound in his neck. A crowd of people surround him, which might explain why no poison dart was found. Until, after another body shows up, it is found sticking out of a third corpse… Enter the elderly academic Dr Davie, a fan of detective novels. Surely that’s enough to help him solve the murder…

V C Clinton-Baddeley was recommended to me by Gram when I asked for help choosing ten unread authors for this countdown. It’s not really Golden Age – well, not Golden Age at all. V C, when he wasn’t acting or screen-writing, although not much that you’ll have seen. He only wrote, I think, five Dr Davie tales from 1967 to 1972, this one being the first. And, you know, it’s not bad at all.

This is going to be a little brief, as I don’t have a lot of free time at the moment – should be back to normal in a few days – but the writing here has a charm to it, a gentle humour to Dr Davie who is a charming lead character. There are aspects to the mystery that are clever and it keeps the reader fixed.

It’s not flawless though. Its shortcomings are mostly in some aspects of the plot – one of the oddest happenings in the central murder has a fairly flat explanation, although to be fair, it is sort-of clued. One aspect of the final murder is so obvious that you can’t believe Davie and the police overlook it for so long and, worst of all, when the murderer was revealed, I’d forgotten who that character was in the big picture.

But it says a lot about the writing that despite this, I still enjoyed the book enough to keep an eye out for the other Davie books. I’ll let you know…


  1. I got this book for my birthday earlier this week, so it was interesting to see what you made of it. Very exciting how close you are to your 1000th review. You’ll have to have a cake or something, though i am not sure you could fit that many candles on…


  2. I really enjoyed this one. I read it just before I started blogging, so I don’t have a real review of it. But I always like a good academic mystery.


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