Dancing Death (Christopher Bush)

By Christopher Bush

First published: UK, Heinemann, 1931

Blurb (UK)

Bush - Dancing Death.JPG
Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC

Reviewing Christopher Bush’s first detective-story, The Perfect Murder Case, the Observer said: “all the points of the good detective story are here: excitement, ingenuity, suspense, crescendo and a satisfactory conclusion.”  All these things may be claimed for Mr. Bush’s new story, Dancing Death.  It has excitement and ingenuity in plenty.  The ingredients are a burglary; a fancy-dress dance (in which there were two harlequins); the strange death of Mirabel Quest by stabbing; and the even stranger death of Denis Fewne, found dead in the pagoda, with the room littered with the torn fragments of toy balloons!

But Travers and Franklin are of the party and combine to solve as puzzling a mystery as a detective story lover could find anywhere.

My review

One of the author’s most impressive jobs. The scene is a snow-bound country house, complete with fancy dress ball at which two (or three? or four?) harlequins confuse the issue of murder and burglary. The plot is one of Bush’s best, showing how coincidence can produce a catastrophe.  The finishing chapters, in which Travers’s detection makes sense of the jumbled mysteries of the first section, are extremely satisfying, allowing both police and reader to be present at the capture of a particularly ingenious criminal.

Contemporary reviews

Spectator (Peter Fleming, 27th June 1931, 100w):

In Dancing Death a puzzle is worked out with incredible ingenuity; but I think that Mr. Bush missed an opportunity by treating it only as a puzzle and aiming only at our minds.


NY Times (Bruce Rae, 20th September 1931, 180w):

The book is fair.