Case for Sergeant Beef (Leo Bruce)

  • By Leo Bruce
  • First published: UK: Nicholson & Watson, 1947; US: Academy Chicago, 1980

More substantial than Bruce’s earlier books, for a sense of unreality hung about Case with Ropes and Rings (ingenious though it was), and the much-touted Furious Old Women was rather dull. Wellington Chickle attempts to plan and commit a perfect murder. While the murderer’s diary is not new (and was re-used in Crack of Doom), it is well-handled, and the way in which Chickle’s plot (which he fondly believes is ingenious) is seen through by every character in sight is most amusing. The characters are all eccentric, and the plot very neat; Bruce manages to put some new ideas in the inverted tale.


1947 Ivor Nicholson & Watson

In the cleverly plotted Case for Sergeant Beef, Mr. Wellington Chickle, a retired watchmaker, plans the perfect murder, but he chooses the wrong victim.  The dead man’s sister refuses to accept the idea that her brother committed suicide and calls in the unprepossessing Sgt. Beef who unravels the plot with the aid of the local police.  Meanwhile, Townsend, Beef’s indefatigable chronicler, comes to a completely different—and completely wrong—conclusion.  A delightful read by one of the best mystery plotters who ever lived.