Mrs. Mary Thurston has been murdered in a room where the door was triple bolted, and all of the windows closed. Sergeant Beef is the policeman on the spot, but the next day three amateur detectives arrive to take the case. Lord Simon Plimsoll, Monsieur Amer Picon, and the Monsignor. Each investigates in their own way, and each arrives at a solution. Problem is, each solution points to someone different, and each is equally wrong. Oh, but Sergeant Beef has it all figured out.
This is an amusing satire of the mystery genre in which Bruce points out its flaws by spoofing several famous fictional amateur detectives. Hercule Poirot, Lord Peter Wimsey, Father Brown as well as each and every one of their quirks are skewered. And then they are out-detected by the very ordinary way in which the local plod, Sergeant Beef, solves the crime.
The writing is sharp, the dialogue witty, and the characters interesting. While I acknowledge all of that, I have to say this was not a book that I truly enjoyed. The mystery got lost in all of the parody, and the longer the parody went on, the less interesting it became. And, the less amusing the detectives became, mostly Plimsoll, who went from wit to snark fairly quickly.
The shame of it is (at least for me) that there was a pretty good locked room mystery here. To make the spoof work not all of the relevant clues are revealed until the end, but if they had been I think they could have been used to add to the parody, and the contest between supposed dullard Beef and the three great ones.
Granted, it may be that it was just the parody I did not enjoy, or maybe I was just having a bad day. Either way, I’ll give another of the Sergeant Beef novels a try just to see.
My Judgment –3.5/5
Vintage Mystery Extravaganza – Vintage Mystery Challenge 2013 – Scattergories – #16 Locked Rooms
Murder Mystery Bingo Reading Challenge – Red Herrings: Butler
Calendar of Crime Reading Challenge – December #7: Book title has a word starting with “D”