Financier Henry Plumley has been acting erratically of late. Now, facing potential financial ruin and arrest, he makes a very public speech in which he alludes to hidden treasure, then sips from his glass and falls dead.
And so begins a hunt for treasure. With the end of WWI, Major Geoffrey Wrentham has been demobilized and returned to England. Concerned after hearing the rumors about Plumley, in who’s companies he has invested heavily, he attends the rally and hears that very strange speech. With Plumley’s death comes increased concern, and unanswered questions. Geoffrey’s childhood friend Ludovic Travers, just happens to be the dead man’s secretary, and provides him with clues to decoding that final speech. Soon Geoffrey is on a hunt filled with mischief, mystery, and murder.
First things first. This may be called a Ludovic Travers Mystery, but it is not a Ludovic Travers Mystery. With the main protagonist being Geoffrey Wrentham, Ludovic (Ludo) actually has more of a peripheral role here.
Bush has created a plot that is pleasantly intricate and clever. I guess you would call this a puzzle mystery in the sense that there is a treasure hunt based on clues left by Plumley. The search leads Geoffrey to his home village, which also happens to be the site of one of Plumley’s residences, and where Geoffrey believes Plumley has secreted money. With the information provided by Ludo, he painstaking decodes the clues then, using skills acquired during the war, undertakes “night operations” in order to confirm his findings. After one such operation, a stranger to the village is found dead, leaving Geoffrey under suspicion. Geoffrey, with the help of Ludo, continues in his investigations while sparring with, and spying on, police detective Burrows, and becoming involved with the mysterious Miss Forrest. This is a mystery that is not easily solved, and I for one was guessing until the end. When the resolution did come my reaction was a definite “What?”.
Geoffrey makes for an engaging protagonist. A likable, intelligent, and adventurous individual who tends not to worry, believing “something will roll up”. But he is also dutiful, honest, and caring. There is a lovely reunion with his father, the village vicar, with whom he has a wonderful bond. And the friendship between Geoffrey and Ludo is long-standing and sincere, which makes for an amiable investigative partnership. We also get to know a little bit about Ludovic, who will be taking over the investigations in future books. He too is an engaging young man, but much more thoughtful and apt to be more cautious than his friend.
My only real quibble with this book was that the writing style was sometimes a bit much. At times it got wordy, definitely flowery in spots, and sometimes so complex as to make it difficult to follow.
Definitely a lightweight, enjoyable mystery. Not the introduction to a new series that I thought it would be, but entertaining none the less. I’ve already ordered more and am looking forward to diving in.
My Judgment– 4/5
Prior Rulings– The Grandest Game in the World, and while not a full review, The Passing Tramp (who also wrote the introduction for the series) comments “…it’s a lighter, treasure hunt mystery, but I enjoyed it. Of course part of what I liked was getting more back story on Travers. It’s actually set not long after the Great War, and we learn why Travers wears those horn-rimmed glasses! I might compare Plumley, in terms of its mystery, to Christies The Secret of Chimneys or Allinghams The Crime at Black Dudley or Conningtons The Dangerfield Talisman. Not bad company, but if you want a reallly thorny murder problem, there are stronger ones in this group.”