The Case of the Leaning Man (Christopher Bush)

By Christopher Bush

First published: UK, Cassell, 1938; US, Holt, 1938, as The Leaning Man

Rating: 2 out of 5.

This is the one in which Travers’ wife, Bernice, is introduced.

Otherwise, unfortunately, it’s rather the mixture as before.

The situation is good; after all, who can resist a murdered maharajah in a London hotel?  But it puts one in mind at once of G.K. Chesterton or John Dickson Carr.

And Bush just isn’t in their league.

There’s some good detection, but the telling soon becomes nebulous and diffuse, with more theorising than action.

The solution is one that Bush has already used, at least once (The Perfect Murder Case), and would do so again (TCOT Seven Bells) and again (TCOT Amateur Actor).

And he had such a lovely dead maharajah to play with!

Blurb (UK)

This “Case” of Ludovic Travers and Superintendent Wharton is packed full of sleuthing excitement, during which three men die and the careers of four people are ruined before the round-up is accomplished.

The leaning man was the king-pin of the plot, all unknowing to himself, and because he did not know, he met his death outside a London theatre.

Travers soon finds a link between this case and the murder of a Maharajah, and is curious to know why the veteran actor, Sir Jerome Haire, is interested in both.  He soon finds out, and in doing so brings under suspicion Joy and Bernice Haire, Sir Jerome’s daughters and music-hall stars on their own account.

The travels of a priceless emerald ring also add mystery to an already perplexing problem only elucidated by the keen deduction of Travers and the patient unravelling of his colleague, the Superintendent.

Contemporary reviews

Times Literary Supplement (Maurice Percy Ashley, 16th July 1938): The Case of the Leaning Man, if not exactly a vintage Travers, is good enough.  Ludovic Travers, although not without his little peculiarities, is not perhaps one’s ideal detective, and when his personal friends are involved in a murder case he becomes a trifle too meticulous.  In this case an Indian rajah of amorous habits is murdered, and a distinguished old actor who now acts four times nightly at musical halls and his two actress daughters are concerned.  The method of the murder is not entirely new, indeed Agatha Christie has used the device; but it will probably deceive those who do not know it.  There are hints that in spite of his long bachelordom Travers is contemplating matrimony, and perhaps Mr. Bush would not be ill-advised to pension him off.

New Yorker (22nd October 1938, 30w)

NY Times (Isaac Anderson, 23rd October 1938, 190w): Mr. Bush has produced another good detective story, this time with emotional complications such as the experts say should have no place in this type of fiction.  But the experts are not always right.

The Saturday Review (29th October 1938): Old actor poisoned in London alley.  Indian potentate punctured in swank hotel.  Ludovic Travers connects two killings with fatal results.  Although on 2 points— 1 major, 1 minor—observant reader may outguess curiously dense Mr. Travers, story moves along quite pleasantly.  Standard Brand.

Books (Will Cuppy, 30th October 1938, 150w): The Leaning Man is a smooth-as-silk affair, with a touch of romance for a chaser.

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