Ludovic Travers is summoned by his friend, the theatrical agent Barney Joseph, to negotiate a truce between the sisters Bernice and Joy Haire, two old friends of Travers who have formed a stunningly popular theatrical double act. He is more than willing to help out, as it seems that Travers carries a bit of a torch for the sisters, and he is more than curious what caused them to fall out so badly on a boat journey back to England.
But soon, he finds himself dealing with a poisoned man found leaning on a wall outside of a theatre and the murder of a Maharajah in his hotel room. Is it possible the two deaths are related? Is it possible that everything ties together somehow? And is the lovestruck Ludovic capable of seeing the truth?
I was planning to resume my chronological run through the Travers mysteries, but I’ve skipped Book 17, The Case Of The Hanging Rope, because, for work-related reasons, I’ve very tired at the moment and the first chapter warns that the reader needs to memorise a family tree to make life easier for themselves. So stuff that for a packet of biscuits. And I’ve read The Case Of The Tudor Queen before, so it’s on to Book 19, i.e. this one.
It follows the path of a few of the Travers novels, namely an intriguing set-up, an entertaining investigation, and a well-planned conclusion. This isn’t one of the alibi-busters that Bush has a reputation for writing, just a well-told mystery novel.
Travers is as fallible as ever, going through a number of solutions that he is “certain” about before finally hitting on the correct one, and I think from a slightly meta point of view, a lot of readers will see where this is going. In particular, people who have read any of the later books will be able to eliminate one suspect.
There’s some nice work here as Travers begins to suspect that the crimes may have ties to the Haire family and is perfectly happy to hide the truth (or even just his theories) from Superintendent Wharton to protect people that he cares about. It does wobble in a few early chapters as it looks like it might be a case of which local London villain is behind it, but it settles quick and soon becomes an engrossing read.
Once again, many thanks to Dean St Press for bringing back possible the second-most deserving long-lost authors from obscurity – you all know who the first is! I always find something to enjoy in the Travers tales and look forward to reading many more. The next ten (31 to 40) are out in early May, but the first thirty are there in all their ebook glory for you to enjoy…
Bonus trivia: the use of the word “trumpery” – an archaic word meaning “showy but worthless”. Seems appropriate…
Just The Facts, Ma’am: WHY – Author’s last name begins with the same letter as mine.