The Case of the Monday Murders (Christopher Bush)

By Christopher Bush

First published: UK, Cassell, 1936; US, Holt, 1936, as Murder on Mondays


Blurb (UK)

Bush - TCOT Monday Murders.JPG
Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC

The world was startled by an anonymous letter in an evening paper: “Murder next Monday,” a threat emphasized by claims to previous Monday murders.

It happened…  Luffham the schoolmaster was killed.  Another Monday threat…another Monday murder; this time Laura Delayne, a star.  Next week…but by then Ludovic Travers was on the trail, in company with Superintendent Wharton, C.I.D., and the two put clue to clue, delved and dug into evidence, and at last, mainly by the proverbial Travers “hunch,” found their man.

A story full of vigour and clever deduction which holds the reader enthralled from first page to last.


My review

Since 1918, according to Ferdinand Pole of the Murder League, thirteen murders have been committed on Mondays. As if to prove his theory, a paedophiliac economist is murdered one week in an ingeniously simple manner, and an actress without a past the next – both on Mondays. Ludovic Travers and ‘General’ Wharton are competent, but there are only two (at a pinch, three) suspects, so the murderer’s identity is hardly surprising and hence disappointing. A parrot is not used as well as it could have been.


Contemporary reviews

 

Observer (Torquemada, 1st March 1936)

CURIA ADVISARE VULT

There are many admirable friends, amateur paired with official, among detectives in books; but usually 95 per cent. of the work is done by the former, and the rest, with some luck, by the latter.  I prefer a little more equality of brains—say, about 75 per cent. for the hero, and 25 per cent. for the Yard.  Of couples with such an equipment, one of my prime favourites is Ludovic Travers and Superintendent (“General”) Wharton.  The Case of the Monday Murders is painted against a background of exploitation for publicity purposes of real and fictitious crime, and it is Mr. Bush’s fascinating knack of making the background to pop into the foreground at unexpected places and then to recede again and again which makes the story of the two Monday murders, and the eventually successful one which takes place on another day, so satisfactorily baffling.  Yet the clues are abundant and lucid, and when, at the end, we have to have them pointed out, we feel like calling for our thickest boots and trampling on ourselves.

 

Times Literary Supplement (John Everard Gurdon, 7th March 1936):

On a Monday morning the Evening Blazon received a remarkable letter from Ferdinand Pole, the well-known writer of thrillers.  Quoting actual cases Mr. Pole showed that, during recent years, an abnormally high proportion of unsolved murders had been committed on a Monday.  As though to confirm his argument some unknown assassin chose that same day for an ingenious and sensational crime.  Mr. Pole basked gleefully in the ensuing publicity, although the police asked embarrassing questions about one of his visiting cards which had been found near the body of the victim.  Not long afterwards a newspaper reporter found a famous actress stabbed to death; that also happened on a Monday, and again the police discovered links leading to the enterprising writer.  They were, in fact, on the point of arresting him when every theory was shattered by a completely inexplicable event: Ferdinand Pole, the suspected “Monday Murderer”, himself was killed on a Monday.  Considerable skill goes to the unravelling of this tangle, and every puzzling circumstance is explained; yet the book, like so many of its kind, suffers from one particular defect: the foundation of motive is neither broad enough nor deep enough to carry such an elaborate superstructure of crime.

 

Books (Will Cuppy, 29th March 1936, 230w):

If you’ve been stuck lately with some of those hard-boiled, high-pressure items (they’re mostly illiterate, we find), better go for this one.  We swear it’s civilised, completely lacking in goofiness and much more entertaining than an armful of the more lurid dreadfuls of commerce.

 

NY Times (Isaac Anderson, 29th March 1936, 230w):

If the story does not come up to Mr. Bush’s usual standard it is because the steps by which Travers reaches the correct solution are not very clear to the reader even after they have been explained.

 

The Saturday Review (4th April 1936):

London recluse, actress and thriller writer lose lives on Lundi.  Ludovic Travers lures too-clever killer to doom.  A novel idea, much interesting background and good dialogue, some comedy, and a surprise finish.  Good.