William F. Deeck

CHRISTOPHER BUSH – The Kitchen Cake Murder. William Morrow, US, hardcover, 1934. First published in the UK by Cassell, 1934, as The Case of the 100 Percent Alibis.

   The British title is by far the better one here and quite descriptive. Why the U.S. publisher thought anyone would be interested in the murder of a cake baffles me. Indeed, the cake has nothing to do with the murder but with the unraveling of an ostensibly unbreakable alibi.

   Frederick Lewton, blackmailer, is murdered at his home at 7:12 p.m. on a spring evening. One minute later his servant calls the police from the home to report the murder, or so it seems until it is discovered that the servant had just gotten off the 7:10 train when the call was placed. A visitor who left a few minutes before the murder has an equally iron-clad alibi. In fact, all who could be considered suspects in the murder have unimpeachable alibis.

   Superintendent George Wharton of Scotland Yard by chance is with the Chief Constable when the murder is reported. He investigates but is unable to break any of the suspects’ alibis. By even greater chance, Ludovic Travers happens by. He becomes engaged in the case and discovers, by means of the cake, the clue that destroys an alibi. And then that individual produces an even more convincing alibi.

   This is a novel primarily for pure puzzle fans. The mystery writer is an interesting character. The rest are the usual suspects.

— From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 13, No. 1, Winter 1991.