The Case of the April Fools by Christopher Bush (1933)
During a meeting with partners Courtney Allard and Charlie Crewe to negotiate the lease on a theater, Ludovic Travers learns that Crewe has been receiving death threats which he refuses to take seriously. Then a very curious thing occurs. That evening, Ludo overhears these same gentleman talking—about him! Seems they have a plan to use him as a witness, and the dupe in some scheme or joke they’ve worked up. So, now alert for some occurrence, when a letter arrives with an invitation to spend the weekend at Allard’s country home, ostensibly for further business discussions, Ludo accepts. Twenty-four hours later he is a witness, but to a double murder that’s no joke.
The plot is an intricate one involving locked room murders that depend on elaborate timing, odd clues, and several red herrings. The suspects are group of actors collected by Allard and Crewe, all with personal secrets that lend themselves to complications and diversions in the plot.
Ludo works this case with Chief Inspector Norris of Scotland Yard, Superintendent Wharton’s former right-hand-man, who has recently been promoted. Ludo is his usual reticent self. Norris is very understated, but intelligent and personable. These two work well together as characters, and make a great sleuthing team.
This is the ninth in the series, the ninth I’ve read, and even with the fact that I worked most of the plot early on, my favorite so far.
My Judgment – 4/5
Vintage Mystery Extravaganza – 2012 – Vintage Themes: Cherchez l’Homme: Book 6 of 8
Calendar of Crime – April #5 Other April Holiday [April Fools Day]
The April Robin Murders by Craig Rice and Ed McBain (1959)
Street photographers Bingo Riggs and Handsome Kusak take The International Foto, Motion Picture, and Television Corporation of America to Hollywood in hopes of making their fortune. After being bamboozled into buying a house once owned by famous actress April Robin, they find themselves investigating an old murder, and potential suspects in a new one, all while trying to land that big Hollywood deal.
This was one of those wacky mysteries that is just fun to read. Filled with 1950s Hollywood backgrounds and characters right off the casting couch. Bingo and Handsome make likeable, if somewhat naïve, protagonists. A little over half-way through I perceived a change in writing style. The action slowed down a bit, and the characters, though not inconsistent within themselves, seemed to change focus. It is well known that at the time of Craig Rice’s death, this book was left unfinished and Ed McBain stepped in to complete it. With that in mind, I assume this is where McBain took over the story.
While the solution is rather ordinary, this is an enjoyable read for when you need a laugh. I also wanted to mention some of the later covers, which are fabulous!
My Judgment – 3.75/5
Vintage Mystery Extravaganza – 2012 – Vintage Themes: Cherchez l’Homme: Book 7 of 8
Calendar of Crime – April #1 Month in the title