22 July 2010

Forgotten Book: CASE FOR THREE DETECTIVES, Leo Bruce

This week's contribution to Pattinase's Friday's Forgotten Books

Blurb from Fantastic Fiction
CASE FOR THREE DETECTIVES (1936)
Possibly the most unusual mystery ever written. A murder is committed, behind closed doors, in bizarre circumstances. Three amateur detectives take the case: Lord Simon Plimsoll, Monsieur Amer Picon, and Monsignor Smith (in whom discerning readers will note likeness to some familiar literary figures). Each arrives at his own brilliant solution, startling in its originality, ironclad in its logic. Meanwhile Sergeant Beef sits contemptuously in the background. "But," says Sergeant Beef, "I know who done it!"

[Note from Wikipedia: An example of locked room type of mystery, this book spoofs other famous fictional detectives, Lord Peter Wimsey called Lord Simon Plimsoll, Hercule Poirot called Monsieur Amer Picon, and Father Brown, called Monsignor Smith.]

I must have enjoyed CASE FOR THREE DETECTIVES, #1 in the Sergeant Beef series, because right under that entry in my records for 1988 appears the second in the series.  CASE WITHOUT A CORPSE (1937).

Leo Bruce was a pseudonym for Rupert Croft-Cooke (1903-1979).
In the latter name he published a formidable array of books from 1933 to 1978. He also wrote a number of non-fiction titles.

There's a gap in the Croft-Cooke publications in the 1930s and 1940s during which it seems he focussed on the Sergeant Beef series:
Sergeant Beef
Case for Three Detectives (1936)
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).

Interestingly the third title in this list CASE WITH FOUR CLOWNS is being re-published in the US in September this year. See Amazon.

Beginning in 1955 Bruce wrote another detective series:  Carolus Deene, senior history master at the Queen's School, Newminster, who acts as an amateur sleuth.This series had 23 titles in it, the last one being published in 1974, so he published more than one a year. Over the same period he published 40 novels as Rupert Croft-Cooke, so in some years he published at least 3 books a year.

4 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - One of the things I really like about your Forgotten Book contributions is the way they introduce me to books I haven't read yet. This is one of those times. Very interesting premise to this one...

NancyO said...

I thought I was the only one who had those books! Here's to obscure authors (and the people who publicize them!)

George said...

I've been a fan of Leo Bruce's work for decades. It's good to see that his books are being reprinted for a new audience.

Peter Rozovsky said...

I heard about this through Patti Abbott's "Forgotten Friday." This one looks like fun. Thanks.
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Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
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