My Forgotten Book for today is an early effort by the prolific Christopher Bush, who began writing in the Golden Age and kept going through the Swinging Sixties. The Perfect Murder Case (1929) is, as far as I know, the very first of those mystery novels in which a murderer plays a game with the police, and to that extent it is a pioneering effort.
Various newspapers, as well as New Scotland Yard, receive a letter from “Marius” which opens: “I am going to commit a murder.” He adds that “by giving the law its sporting chance I raise the affair from the brutal to the human.” You don’t get such sportsmanship in crime nowadays!
More letters follow, giving extra clues, and causing a popular sensation: “Flapperdom arranged murder parties at hotels. The Ragamuffin Club had a special dance gala and a gallows scene painted for it...medical students organised a gigantic rag. An enormous fortune must have been laid in bets...what Marius had intended to be the sublime was likely to become the gorblimey.”
The detective work is mainly done by a former cop called Franklin, although Bush’s usual protagonist, Ludovic Travers, contributes to solving the puzzle. There is a lot to admire about this book, but I did feel that the investigation became rather rambling and I couldn’t summon up much interest in either the victim or the suspects. Bush was a writer whose limitations kept him out of the top rank. But he had talent, and interesting and relatively fresh ideas, and The Perfect Murder Case is sure to interest anyone keen on the history of the genre.