Published by Poison Pen in association with
British Library Crime Classic
Available August 4, 2015
Paperback ISBN 9781464204821
ebook ISBN 9781464204838
My source: Netgalley
Death of an Airman is an enjoyable and unorthodox whodunit from a writer whose short life was as remarkable as that of any of his fictional creations. When an aeroplane crashes, and its pilot is killed, Edwin Marriott, the Bishop of Cootamundra in Australia, is on hand. In England on leave, the Bishop has decided to learn how to fly, but he is not convinced that the pilot’s death was accidental. In due course, naturally, he is proved right. The Bishop and Inspector Bray of Scotland Yard make an appealing pair of detectives, and ultimately a cunning criminal scheme is uncovered.
An airplane crashes with several witnesses. The pilot is dead. He has been shot and his skull crushed in from impact in the plane. Which happened first? First suicide is thought but maybe not! How was he killed flying in the air with no other planes around him? Was he shot after he was on the ground and not quite dead? A great puzzle much like a locked room mystery. I did guess who it was towards the end, but it was a good time getting there. Lots of great suspects. Silly character names like Sally Sackbut, Lady Crumbles and Lord Entourage. The flying community and life at an aerodrome was new to me and quite interesting.
The local Inspector Creighton wasn’t worth a hill of beans, but when Inspector Bernard Bray from New Scotland Yard was brought in we see good detective work. Between the good work of the Bishop, Bray and Crime Reporter Archie Brown with trips to Glasgow Scotland and France the solution is brilliantly pieced together. After the villain is apprehended there is a little surprise ending that finished the book off with a smile!
Very satisfying read. Thanks to Poison Pen for bringing these British Library Crime Classics to the US! Hope we get more of Christopher St. John Sprigg’s books!