>H.C. Bailey, The Bishop´s Crime (1940)

In January Ron Smyth won a gift voucher on my blog. He has been kind enough to tell me how he spent his money, and he has sent me a review I think many of you will enjoy reading. Doesn´t this sound good?

Reggie Fortune is one of the classic Golden Age detectives, who first appeared in book form in “Call Mr Fortune”, in 1919. This book, like most of the Fortune volumes, is a collection of short stories. However, Reggie also appeared in a number of novels, of which “The Bishop’s Crime” (1940) is an excellent example. Reggie is a doctor who is often called in by the police for his medical expertise, and is of the same class as Lord Peter Wimsey, whom he resembles in speech and erudition, often quoting poetry and using literary references, in the manner of the early genius detective types, popular at that time. Reggie however is a much harsher sort of person than Lord Peter, and his cases are likely to involve corruption, child abuse or perversion.

Here, Reggie is called in when an unidentified body is discovered on the roadway. Deciding that the deceased was dead before being run over, Reggie traces him to a northern town by the dirt under his fingernails and his final meal and soon another body is found. The two are identified as criminals with a specific specialty which leads to the local Cathedral and legends of a lost treasure, from the time of Henry VIII and the closing of the monasteries. When the Dean is assaulted and a local grave broken into Reggie begins to see that a criminal mastermind is working behind the scenes. Working with the police, rather than in spite of them as is more common in detective novels of the day, Reggie begins to understand what happened to the treasure and uses this knowledge to trap the crooks into a wrong move. With utter ruthlessness he ensures that no villains escape unscathed, even if he has to arrange their punishment himself. Filled with poetry, history and erudition Reggie succeeds in once more solving both the recent crimes and the historical mysteries, restoring order out of chaos in the best Golden Age tradition.

Ron Smyth

About Dorte Hummelshøj Jakobsen

I am a Danish teacher. In my spare time I read, write and review crime fiction.
This entry was posted in British, guest blogger, H.C. Bailey. Bookmark the permalink.

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