Roger Sherington and the Vane Case by Anthony Berkeley (1927)

Mrs. Elsie Vane’s body has been found at the bottom of the cliffs at Ludmouth Bay, but it appears that Inspector Moresby from Scotland Yard isn’t satisfied with the verdict of accidental death. The Daily Courier wants to know why and sends Roger Sheringham, their sometime Special Correspondent, to investigate. With his cousin Anthony in tow, he proceeds to do a little amateur detecting, and theorizing, of his own. There are a number of suspects including the husband, a jealous wife in the neighborhood, a young lover, and a pretty cousin who Anthony promptly falls in love with. Roger stumbles upon clues, picks Moresby’s brain, and devises theory after theory in an attempt to out detect Inspector Moresby, and uncover the killer.

This was much more satisfying that The Wychford Murder Case. Berkeley has written a clever and pointedly funny story. Sheringham is his usual pompous know-it-all, with a refreshing twist. Believing himself to be a flawless detective, and consumed by his rivalry with Moresby, Roger can’t see the obvious solution. Utterly unconscious to his own fallibility, he is extremely amusing as he conceives, several times, what he believes to be, the only solution.

‘I’ve done it!” shouted the dervish.’ ‘Alone, unaided, unhonoured and unsung, frowned upon by the official police and snubbed by half the small boys in Ludmouth, have I done it!’”

While there is little if any mystery regarding the who, how, or why, the red herrings the killer uses to divert attention are very good, leading Sheringham on a merry dance. And his final theory is masterful…but completely wrong. Sheringham as the the flawed amateur sleuth proves to be incredibly entertaining. 

This is one that doesn’t take itself too seriously but was a very pleasurable read. 

My Judgment – 4/5

Prior Rulings – Nick @ The Grandest Game in the World

Vintage Mystery Extravaganza – Vintage Mystery Challenge 2018: Just the Facts, Ma’am – What: Pseudonymous author

Calendar of Crime Reading Challenge – July #2: Author’s birth month

6 thoughts on “Roger Sherington and the Vane Case by Anthony Berkeley (1927)

  1. Arthur Robinson

    I, for one, was fooled by this, though I’d like to blame it on my reading it too fast without time to reflect as I usually do reading detective novels (I read it in the New York Public Library in 1983 in less than two hours since I had to get to a matinee). Though I had read enough Berkeleys to know Roger was fallible, his solution was so satisfying I figured it had to be true. Nope. I enjoyed this book a lot.

    1. Yup, I can see how that would happen. Roger’s solution was the perfect answer, which is what made this so good. Both he and the reader saying “What…that can’t be!”

  2. Rick Mills

    Thank you for this review! I only have two Berkeleys (The Second Shot, A Pinch of Poison) which I enjoyed. I will keep my eye out for this title.

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