The Case Of The Three Strange Faces (1933) by Christopher Bush

Ludovic Travers was looking forward to his train journey back from the South of France. Taking a second class carriage – the people there tended to be much more interesting that first class – he gained a lot more than he bargained for. Three different men, all with something about their faces, were his travelling companions, along with two others. And after a long journey, two of them would be dead.

Why was one of his compatriots passing items to a man in the corridor? Why did another have strange red spots on his neck? Who was the other man who walked up and down the corridor? And committed double murder under Travers’ nose? It will take trips from England to France and back again before the truth is revealed.

This was the tenth Christopher Bush title featuring Ludovic Travers and Superintendent George Wharton. It’s a series that, while not perfect, is one that I generally enjoy a lot, with some great titles – my favourite before this was the wonderful The Case Of The Dead Shepherd. And now… it’s still The Case Of The Dead Shepherd. I didn’t really get on with this one at all.

That may be in part to me – as I’ve said before, my concentration is up and down like a slow yo-yo at the moment, and it was definitely down when I read this. It might while have been a perfect storm, as this book does seem to lack a focus.

The opening few chapters, leading up to the deaths in the train carriage are pretty effective, building up a sense of suspicion around the behaviour of everyone in and around the carriage. After that though, something went astray and there’s a lot of Travers following Wharton around as Wharton goes around solving the case.

There’s actually two things (at least) going on in the carriage and it’s a bit odd that one of them just… sort of ends very early on and for some reason, the actual case never really grabbed me. The solution was fairly clued but didn’t strike me as particularly interesting. There’s a lot of proposing theories that get shot down, despite Wharton apparently knowing what was happening at an early stage.

Ah, there are plenty of really good Travers books out there and I can see some people enjoying this, but it didn’t work for me – maybe if my brain was less busy. Never mind.

5 comments

  1. Before I started reading this blog I had no idea how many Golden Age authors there were, and I’ve been interested in the genre for over fifteen years. Incidentally, the title of this one made me think of a certain Holmes story about a Yellow Face, so my first thought was “hoo boy, please don’t let this book be racist!”

    By the way, on a much more shameless note, I’ve started my own blog reviewing genre fiction. I only have 1 review up so far, but if you’d have a look I’d be grateful. – https://the-old-paperback-carousel.blogspot.com/2021/01/rest-you-merry-by-charlotte-macleod-1978.html?m=1

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    • Your blog may get more traction if you make it easy for people to follow it, e.g., by adding buttons to subscribe via Blogger or to subscribe for getting updates emailed.

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      • I am sorry, but I cannot provide you any advice on how to do that.

        Another thing you can do, and easily, is to post have a short message and link on the Golden Age Detection group on Facebook. A few other bloggers do that, and it’s not frowned upon at all.

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  2. There are some GA titles where race is an issue – a couple of books spring to mind where apart from that aspect, they are interesting books – it would take a brave publisher to reprint The Stingaree Murders for example.

    And glad to know you’re finding more authors via me – I find them through other blogs, for the most part. When I started, I had no idea of the depth of writing that I was unaware of.

    I’ll be sure to keep an eye on your blog – good luck with it.

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