Mini Review – The Cheltenham Square Murder by John Bude (1937)

Regency Square sits in the town of Cheltenham Spa. Within the square are ten houses that forms its own small community; one that quietly simmers with gossip, grievances, and secrets. It’s also known as Archery Square, as several of it’s residents are well-known for their skill in that sport. So when one of the residents is shot in the head with an arrow there are plenty of suspects. Unfortunately for the murderer, Superintendent Meredith is currently visiting in the square, and the local police quickly enlist his help.

The victim is ne’er-do-well Captain Cotton, and there are several residents in the square with reason to want him dead. He’d regularly disturbed the peace of the square by roaring through on his noisy motorbike; seduced the wife of one resident, and was blackmailing another. 

“He was doomed from birth to die a violent and premeditated death. A congenital murderee, if you ask me!”

Bude created a number of other residents, all perfect for a Golden Age mystery. There is the Rev. Matthews and his “faded, anaemic” sister Annie; local doctor, Dr. Pratt; bank manager Mr. Fitzgerald and his “pretty, though rather empty-headed young wife” Joyce; retired stockbroker Mr. Buller; two elderly spinster sisters, the Misses Nancy and Emmeline Watt, and the dog-obsessed Miss Boon.

The plot hinges on alibis and motive—and just how someone could walk around the square carrying a six-foot bow and remain unseen. It is a pretty deft puzzle with some fairly good red herrings. 

Bude also manages to keep it light and fun with his usual humor. Inspector Long has a number of comic turns in how he deals with his junior officers, as well as his aversion to Miss Boon. But for entertainment, the Misses Watt come out on top, with their dithering over how to handle the secret that they’ve happened upon, and their consternation regarding the correct etiquette for dealing with a murder investigation is particularly amusing. 

A very traditional mystery with lots of entertainment value.

My Judgment – 4/5

Prior Rulings – Kate @ Cross Examining CrimeThe Puzzle Doctor @ In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel

Vintage Mystery Extravaganza – Vintage Themes 2012 – Cherchez l’Homme: Book 3 of 8 with male detectives 

Calendar of Crime Reading Challenge – September #7: Book title has word starting with “S.”

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