LEO BRUCE – Death in Albert Park. Charles Scribner’s Sons, hardcover; 1st US printing, 1979. Academy Chicago, US, paperback, 1983. First published in the UK by W. H. Allen, hardcover, 1964.

   Independently wealthy and increasingly discontent with a humdrum life as a senior history master at a snooty boys’ school in Newminster, Carolus Deene’s real passion in life is solving murders. If it weren’t such a contradiction in terms, he is what you might call an amateur private investigator.

   His style and/or approach as a detective consists largely of asking questions, followed by the working out of hunches that slowly become vaguely filled-in theories. In short, he reconstructs the murders in his mind very much as he would a crossword puzzle.

   This particular 15-year old British import involves a Ripper-like killer who has slain three women at random, each death with no apparent motive. Quite naturally, Deane wonders about this.

   The pace is slow, but until the end, remarkably even. The clues are fair, but the sense of urgency displayed by the suddenly philosophical Carolus Deene, as the killer readies his final blow, does not nearly match that of the reader’s.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 4, No. 2, March-April 1980 (slightly revised).

Bibliographic Notes:   Rupert Croft-Cooke, writing as Leo Bruce, produced a total of 23 detective novels featuring Carolus Deene, and another eight in which Sgt. Beef was the leading character. Even though the Deene books continued to appear until 1974, all of Bruce’s books were definitely products of the Golden Age of Detection. (The Beef novels began in 1936 and ended in 1952; the first Deene book appeared in 1955.)