William F. Deeck

H. C. BRANSON The Leaden Bubble

H. C. BRANSON – The Leaden Bubble. Simon and Schuster, hardcover, 1949. Unicorn Mystery Book Club, hardcover reprint, 4-in-1 edition. Mercury Mystery #153, digest-sized paperback, no date [1950].

   The title of this novel comes from a line of a poem by Henry Treece: “Taste the black leaden bubble of despair.” This may provide the answer to whodunit and why to those who read each page of a book, including the copyright page. Those who start with the first page of chapter one will probably discover the answer without that information, although the solution would appear too improbable.

   John Bent, a mysterious man about whom all that is known is that he once was a practicing M.D., has a beard, and investigates murder, blackmail, and conspiracy and fraud — “the seamy side of life in general” — is asked to visit an elderly man who merely says in his note that he is “greatly disturbed.” Before Bent arrives, his possible client has a stroke and dies unable to communicate why he sought Bent’s services.

   Thus Bent has to find out why the man was greatly disturbed before he can begin investigating what had disturbed him. When the lawyer for the estranged wife of the elderly man’s son, the same lawyer who had maligned members of the extended family earlier on in a case in which a man had shot his wife whom he found in bed with another man, is murdered, there is reason to assume this had something to do with the elderly man’s being disturbed. Perhaps it has to do with the visit of the elderly man to a boarding house? Bent thinks it’s possible and becomes a roomer himself.

   The publishers say that this novel “is not a book to be told; it needs to be read…” I agree. Discover, if you haven’t already, John Bent, quiet, careful, compassionate, mysterious, and the people with whom he deals.

— From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 10, No. 1, Winter 1988.

       The John Bent series —

I’ll Eat You Last (n.) Simon & Schuster, 1941.
The Pricking Thumb (n.) Simon & Schuster, 1942.
Case of the Giant Killer (n.) Simon & Schuster, 1944.
The Fearful Passage (n.) Simon & Schuster, 1945.
Last Year’s Blood (n.) Simon & Schuster, 1947.
The Leaden Bubble (n.) Simon & Schuster, 1949.
Beggar’s Choice (n.) Simon & Schuster, 1953.