Cut Throat (Christopher Bush)

By Christopher Bush

First published: UK, Heinemann, 1932

Rating: 5 out of 5.

One of the two or three best Bushes I’ve read so far.  The problem is deliciously frustrating.  You know who did it by the end of Part I, but X has a “cast-iron” alibi.  The solution proves the alibi to be of quite a different metal.  Bush was to the unbreakable alibi what John Dickson Carr was to the impossible crime.

Blurb (UK)

Cut Throat, Christopher Bush’s new murder story, is one of the most ingenious that he has written.

It begins with the arrival at a Press King’s house of a hamper containing a corpse.  Travers, well known to readers of Mr. Bush’s other books, was on the spot and followed the trail of the murderer from the Albert Hall to a private house in the country, through many queer incidents.

The solution, when it is finally reached, is startling.  The swing of a pendulum goes some way towards unmasking a clever criminal – to say more would be to give away a fascinating puzzle.

Contemporary reviews

Times Literary Supplement (3rd March 1932): On the eve of his great campaigning meeting at the Albert Hall, a hamper arrived at the house of Lord Zyon, the Press King, containing the murdered body of Sir William Griffiths, his one-time rival.  Ludovic Travers, whom Mr. Bush has previously featured as an amateur detective, was, fortunately, on the spot when the crime was discovered.  With his friend, Wharton of the Yard, he began investigation by leaving London for the country home of Sir William, where several surprises awaited the pair.  There was plenty of evidence waiting to be pieced together and when this was done, there remained only a very small gap between clues and solution.  Wharton tried to obliterate this by taking a short cut which was not successful, although it cleared up the point that it was not the murderer who packed the body in the hamper.  Then with a few more clues to lessen the gap, the detective tried another short cut which revealed that the only man who could have committed the crime had an alibi that was cast-iron, until Travers began to think about it a little more deeply when, with the help of one of the witnesses who helped to make the alibi, he succeeded in finding the flaw in a remarkably clever piece of time-juggling.

Sat R of Lit (W.C. Weber, 24th September 1932, 70w): One of the cleverest alibis to date is used by the criminal in Cut Throat.  The crime is very complicated and runs into by-paths that are sometimes a bit tedious, but the dénoûement brings forgiveness for all shortcomings.

NY Evening Post (Rumana McManis, 1st October 1932, 30w): The unravelling of three alibis gives us a long and complicated mystery, solved by careful deduction.

Boston Transcript (5th October 1932, 350w): Here is a more than ordinarily clever plot, an involved murder mystery, and a solution worked out as mathematically as if it were that of a problem in Euclid.  It is not a pleasing story to while away the hours of a wakeful night, if one’s nerves are not made of iron, but those who revel in tales of mystery and crime will find it not only a grim story of suspense and horror, but also an intricate mathematical problem which it requires intelligence and skill to solve.

NY Times (9th October 1932, 200w): The story is one of the most interesting and adroitly handled thrillers the early Fall crop has yet brought to view.