CHRISTOPHER BUSH – The Case of the Counterfeit Colonel. Macmillan, US, hardcover, 1953. No US paperback edition. First published in the UK: Macdonald, hardcover, 1952.

   On page 176 is a challenge to the reader that can’t be ignored, and I quote: “Too hard for you? Well, maybe it is, but it;ll do you no harm to try to think it out.” So in spite of some tough alibis and some quite unbelievable behavior on the part of Ludovic Travers’ client, no, it wasn’t too hard at all.

   Usually I’m the lazy kind of reader who is entente to sit back and let the author do all of the tedious work with timetables, fingerprints and such, but as I say, that’s the kind of challenge that can’t be turned down. In fact even though some of the details were off, in smoe ways I like my version better.

   The affair concerns a hunt for a missing wartime hero; a blackmailer posing s a retired army officer; and the secret connecting them. Travers has an unusual working arrangement with Scotland Yard, having his own detective agency, but on a consultant basis he’s able to call freely upon the services and assistance of Yard personnel.

   This is purely a puzzle story, although there’s nothing wrong with that. The characters do suffer the humility of cavorting around with their strings showing, however, and the timetables and alibi-taking in a word is best described as sloppy.

Rating: C.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 1, No. 4, July 1977 (very slightly revised).

Bibliographic Notes:   Between 1926 and 1968 Christopher Bush wrote an amazing 63 detective novels under his own name, all with Ludovic Travers as the lead detective. Also listed in Hubin are one novel as by Noel Barclay and another 13 as by Michael Home, some indicated as only marginally criminous.