A slightly unpleasant thing has happened here, and I think the sooner you come down the better for everybody’s sake.
I went out for a walk on the sands before breakfast, which one would have thought was an ordinary sort of thing to do at a seaside town. I took Penny and Priss with me because you know how they adore a run, and Penny’s been getting rather fat lately, which is most unsightly in a Pekingese. It was last Thursday and really a gorgeous morning with sunlight and a nice breeze.
The tide was going down and I seemed to be the first person to go below the high-water mark, which I always think is thrilling, because you never know what may have been washed up, and I once found a packing-case full of oranges, and although they were no good it was rather exciting.
Well, I was walking along thinking that really one can have quite a good holiday in England in spite of everything people say, when Penny and Priss began to get into a state of wild excitement over something they’d found. It looked from the distance like a rock with a bit of sea-weed on it.
When I got there I saw it was Mrs. Bomberger. I mean, her head. Or rather, as I found out later, she was all there, but only her head was stuck out of the sand.
At first I thought (of course I see now I must have been crazy) she was taking a sand-bath or something. She had that awful sort of gracious, condescending smile on her face.
“Good morning, Mrs. Bomberger,” I said, grabbing Penny and Priss. Then I realized that she was as dead as mutton and that at least one tide had been over her, and her eyes were like oysters.
I suppose I ought to have become hysterical if I as a nice natural girl; but, do you know, I didn’t feel a bit like that. I had a little trouble getting the dogs away, but I managed it in the end. I left her exactly where she was and went to phone the police. I only hoped no one short-sighted would come along and trip over her or think she was a ball or anything….
So begins this delightful little mystery! Before this frustrating case ends three murders are committed. This is the eighth ‘Carolus Deene’ novel in a series of more than 20 mysteries featuring the urbane, independently wealthy history schoolmaster who solves crimes as a hobby.
Conveniently this murder takes place just as school holidays are beginning and Carolus’ cousin Fay has alerted him to the need for his help in solving the mystery. Carolus and his ‘man and woman’, Mr. & Mrs. Sticks, head for Blessington-on-Sea to help dig up clues as to who killed the hateful Mrs. Bomberger and buried her neck deep in the sand. One of Carolus’ students meets him there and aids in the investigation. Not able to get a true statement out of any of the suspects, he has to piece together all the lies to come up with the solution. A very clever plot! Now I have to find all the Deene mysteries! And also his series featuring Sergeant Beef, a British police constable.
Leo Bruce is the pseudonym for Rupert Croft-Cooke (1903-1979).
Sergeant Beef Series:
- Case for Three Detectives (1936)
this book spoofs three famous fictional detectives, Lord Peter Wimsey, as Sir Simon Plimsoll, Hercule Poirot as Monsieur Amer Picon, and Father Brown, under the name of Monsignor Smith.
- Case Without a Corpse (1937)
- Case With Four Clowns (1939)
- Case With No Conclusion (1939)
- Case With Ropes and Rings (1940)
- Case For Sergeant Beef (1947)
- Neck and Neck (1951)
- Cold Blood (1952)
Carolus Deene Series:
- At Death’s Door (1955)
- Dead for a Ducat (1956)
- Death of a Cold (1956)
- Dead Man’s Shoes (1958)
- A Louse for the Hangman (1958)
- Our Jubilee Is Death (1959) (reprinted in paperback by Academy Chicago Publishers, 1986)
- Furious Old Women (1960)
- Jack on the Gallows Tree (1960)
- Die All, Die Merrily (1961)
- A Bone and a Hank of Hair (1961)
- Nothing Like Blood (1962)
- Such Is Death (1963)
- Death in Albert Park (1964)
- Death at Hallows End (1965) (reprinted in paperback by Academy Chicago Publishers, 2008)
- Death on the Black Sands (1966)
- Death of a Commuter (1967)
- Death at St. Asprey’s School (1967)
- Death on Romney Marsh (1968)
- Death with Blue Ribbon (1969)
- Death on Allhallowe’en (1970)
- Death by the Lake (1971)
- Death in the Middle Watch (1974)
- Death of a Bovver Boy (1974)