THE CASE OF THE MISSING MEN (Christopher Bush, 1946)
Ludovic Travers investigates strangling of egomaniac detective writer. It’s blindingly obvious from very early on that a) Preston is obviously Chaice in disguise; b) that Bush is going to serve it up as a big surprise in the last chapter (I was wrong, it’s the second last); and c) who the murderer is.
Ralph Partridge (New Statesman, 27 April 1946) wrote: “Spotting the villain becomes all too easy in The Case of the Missing Men, which never deviates from the most elementary methods of mystification. Ludovic Travers is a beginner’s detective, always several moves behind the reader in his deductions. Waiting for him to catch up is as tedious as going for a walk with a six-year-old child.”
There’s also supposed to be a sketch map – which didn’t get into the reprint.
For a more enthusiastic review, see TomCat’s page.
FATAL RELATIONS (Margaret Erskine, 1955)
Good ‘un, this. No great tricks, but you’ll enjoy this village murder mystery, which has lots of murders, and plenty of atmosphere. Suspects include an amnesiac (or is he?), a military man who massacred an African tribe for kicks, a vicar with OCD, and an adulteress. The opening chapter at a funeral is excellent.
DANGEROUS DOMICILE (E.C.R. Lorac, 1957)
One of those conventional detective stories the English produced in great numbers. Lively young civil servants (not an oxymoron, apparently) buy a flat, with a corpse on the roof. Inspector MacDonald turns up and asks lots of questions, mainly about keys and windows. Entire chapters in Cockney. I lost interest halfway through.
THE PAPER CHASE (Julian Symons, 1956)
A young detective writer takes a job as a teacher at a progressive school, and finds himself in an imbroglio of spies, Nazis, gangsters, and corrupt politicians (compulsive anal sadists). The detective writer’s first book is Where Dons Delight, a story of University life complete with a pornographic library, a don who thinks he’s a vampire bat, and mind-altering drugs. Symons’ plot isn’t much tamer. He’s apparently writing an homage to Michael Innes. “A pleasing fancy, Applegate thought, but no doubt inaccurate.”