First published: UK, Cassell, 1938; US, Holt, 1938
Travers polished his eye-glass; Wharton grunted – sure signs of scenting mystery.
And they were right.
The car took the wrong turning and leaded them into double murder dressed as suicide. In one room, made up for her principal success, ‘Mary Tudor’, was Mary Legreye – poisoned on her throne; in the seat, the handyman – dead on the floor.
Travers, Wharton and the Yard did their best, but nothing justified arrest – the case was shelved.
Still, Travers pursued his hunch; broke a cast-iron alibi, and once more justified his unerring intuition.
The material that amiable gentleman-detective, Ludovic Travers, has on hand for the successful solution of the famous cases of the Tudor Queen is distressingly meagre: three corpses, two of them poisoned; the crushed top of a fountain pen; a few flaky bits of green paint; a small, cryptic, diary, and a set of very plausible alibis.
But Travers has never been one to cry quits, and although the evidence seems to point to suicide, he refuses to let the case rest when a wisp of doubt remains in his mind.
What macabre whimsy accounted for Mary Legreye’s thespian pose, even in death? Why a circle of dusted floor space in the attic? By sinewy logic Travers proves that Mary Legreye, celebrated actress, and Ward, her servant, were murdered – and shows how and why – with no hocus pocus, no concealments, no tricks.
Ingenious plot marred by lacklustre narration and absent characterization.
Observer (Torquemada, 16th January 1938):
We come next to one of the best of the amateur and professional pairs, Ludovick Travers and Superintendent “General” Wharton. I always see Christopher Bush’s cases in terms of pairs of spectacles: the great round ones which Ludovick (though accused of an eye-glass in the present blurb) removes and polishes in moments of mental excitement, and the more normal ones which Wharton assumes together with his wheedling manner, as of a bluff crocodile. In The Case of the Tudor Queen, the two work levelly on a problem which brings them profound disappointment. A successful actress is found dead, posing in a chair of state for her greatest scene, and in another room a pensioner of hers lies also poisoned. After more than two hundred pages, the police have to be content to leave the case, so perfect are all the alibis, as one of double suicide. Then the author delivers a sporting challenge of rather a new kind, and during the rest of this genially-written story the visionary Travers, unhelped by Wharton, seems to be crooning to himself with considerable justice: “We are the alibi breakers; We are the dreamers of dreams”. Inspired by his old valet’s description of a play he has visited, he attacks with savage care and demolishes an armour-plating of false facts which the man we have suspected all along had, with an artist’s ingenuity, welded together to protect himself and to cover one of the cleverest and most cruel murders the year is likely to bring forth.`
Books (Will Cuppy, 6th March 1938, 150w):
Ludovic Travers, that inspired expert on social economics and crime, solves one of his most difficult problems herein.
NY Times (Kay Irvin, 6th March 1938, 180w):
This story is scarcely up to the level of Mr. Bush’s Eight O’ Clock Alibi, but it is an interesting tale; and this author has both an individual style and an individual hero.
The Saturday Review (12th March 1938):
Actress and servant found poisoned. Ludovic Travers follows case to seemingly dead end—then nabs overconfident killer. Team-work of Travers and Wharton makes good reading, theatrical background has point to it, and dénouement is surprising. Up to snuff.