Thu 29 Oct 2009
William F. Deeck
BLANCHE BLOCH – The Bach Festival Murders. Harper & Brothers, hardcover, 1942. Mercury Mystery #90, digest-sized paperback, 1946, abridged.
Can Crescent City handle a Bach festival, particularly when it conflicts with the season of its not very popular symphony orchestra? One would think not, especially when the symphony orchestra’s old conductor has been removed and a new conductor, a man very jealous of his wife, has been installed at the request of his wife’s old flame.
There is also a significant feud between two socialites — the lady who raises the funds for the orchestra and the lady who has started the festival and who thinks there are musicians who play only Bach.
The man in the middle of all this, Tony Farnum, is a rather unpleasant sort, with a penchant for blackmail. He is aware that his personal habits do not make him popular with most people and admits he would be a great candidate for murder.
When he realizes that he has been poisoned and is about to die, he nonetheless is quite upset. You would have thought that he would have been pleased to discover his assessment was correct.
Two more deaths take place in the novel and one hit-and-run, the victim of the latter being a member of the symphony orchestra who seems to accuse Til Eulenspiegel, or, as the police would have it, Miss or Mrs. Tilly or Matilda Oylenshpiegel, and for whom they have instituted a city-wide search.
Not a classic, but a good, craftsman-like job, with a fair sprinkling of humor and insight into the thoughts, a word I use with some generosity, and spites of the upper classes.
Bio-Bibliographic Data: This is Blanche Bloch’s only entry in the Revised Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin. According to Contemporary Authors, she was a concert pianist who “frequently accompanied her husband, noted violinist Alexander Bloch, in his performances. She founded the New York Women’s Orchestra and conducted for the Florida West Coast Symphony Society for more than ten years.”