Agatha Christie,Ngaio Marsh,Dorothy Sayers,Margery Allingham,Bobby Owen,British Library Crime Classics
Death of a Beauty Queen
When a beauty pageant becomes the setting for murder, Bobby Owen has more suspects than he can handle – almost.
Mr. Sargent, the manager of the Brush Hill Central Cinema, wished he had never held a Beauty Competition. Caroline Mears, the predicted winner, had already caused trouble with one of the other girls. Paul Irwin, a strong Puritan and influential councillor, had taken it into his head to come backstage to look for his son Leslie, who hoped to marry Caroline against his father’s wishes. Just as the winner of the competition was being announced, different news spread through the cinema like lightning – Caroline Mears had been murdered!
Superintendent Mitchell of Scotland Yard and his young sergeant, Bobby Owen, were faced with one of the most puzzling cases of their careers. There were at least seven suspects, against four of whom an equally good case could be made out. There was Paul Irwin’s maddening reiteration that he had ‘nothing to say’ to all questions, and a multitude of confusing evidence, none of which fitted the main jigsaw puzzle. Conundrums abound in this whodunit: one which will keep even the most seasoned mystery reader guessing – right to the very last page.
Death of A Beauty Queen is the fifth of E.R. Punshon’s acclaimed Bobby Owen mysteries, first published in 1935 and part of a series which eventually spanned thirty-five novels.
“What is distinction? The few who achieve it step – plot or no plot – unquestioned into the first rank. We recognized it in Sherlock Holmes, and in Trent’s Last Case, in The Mystery of the Villa Rose, in the Father Brown stories and in the works of Mr. E.R. Punshon we salute it every time.”DOROTHY L. SAYERS
“Mr E.R. Punshon is one of the most entertaining and readable of our sensational novelists because his characters really live and are not merely pegs from which a mystery depends.”PUNCH
Category: Crime Fiction
Publication Date: June 2015
ISBN: 978 1 910570 35 7 (ebook)/978 1 911095 35 4 (paperback)
Burglary, fraud, murder and golden age mystery
Death Among The Sunbathers
Dark deeds surround a sun worshippers' retreat in this golden age mystery
A crossword puzzle provides the final clue in this devilish golden age mystery
An eerie house containing a long-dead corpse is the spur for this golden age mystery
Death Comes to Cambers
Bobby Owen is a guest at a country house, advising on security... but soon it’s a case of murder not burglary
The Bath Mysteries
Bobby Owen is on a family case, investigating the death of his cousin. But how exactly did he die in the bath...?
Mystery of Mr. Jessop
Who killed Mr. Jessop? Who stole the Fellows necklace? Who attacked Hilda May? Bobby Owen is on the case.
The Dusky Hour
A man is found dead in the chalk pit. Who was he? And why did so many clues lead to that infamous London nightclub, the ‘Cut and Come Again’?
When an old acquaintance of Bobby Owen’s from Oxford days turns up out of the blue, he needs help. Bobby is in the frame...
“You see,” Miss Kayne said, “I committed a murder once myself.”
“Know him?” he asked.
Bobby was for a moment too surprised to answer. He had thought of every one else but not of the man whose dead face now was staring up at him.
“Yes. I know him,” he said.
Perhaps the victim had not been unconscious but had known her fate, had sent upwards from the black pit a cry that none but murderers had heard.
“You think it’s murder, don’t you?”
“There is no proof of that as yet, sir,” Bobby answered cautiously.
“No, I know, but it’s what you think,” Glynne answered. After a pause, he added: “So do I.”
“I’ll have breakfast ready before you’re dressed,” Olive said, her mind full of bacon and eggs, tea, toast.
“Can’t stop,” Bobby told her. “I’ve to be at Castle Wych at once.”
“What’s happened there?”
“Murder,” Bobby answered as he made for the door.
Late in the afternoon a man, unidentified, had been seen to throw a glove into the Midwych, Wychshire and Southern Canal…
“Ode to a chocolate,” murmured Bobby.
“I wouldn’t come any nearer if I were you. It’s not a thing to see unless you have to.”
“I’ve got to hurry,” Bobby said. “Mr Weston has been found dead from a knife-wound in his study.”
Deep in bucolic Wychshire something dreadful is stirring …
With a slow gesture of one lifted hand, Bobby pointed. There, in a space between the prostrate stag and posturing goddess, was a human leg, a twisted, motionless leg in a strained, unnatural position.
“Give me gossip or Sherlock Holmes, and I take gossip every time. The detective’s first aid and ever present help in time of doubt.”
“I don’t like it, Olive. No good, plain evidence, not so much as the smell of a fingerprint. Nothing but psychology and an atmosphere of doubt, menace, and suspicion.”
“Gets on your nerves, doesn’t it? I mean, that playing of hers. I’ve never heard anything like it.”
Bobby Owen stood for a time in silence, looking down thoughtfully at the dead man’s face. A small, insignificant face, lacking even that touch of repose and dignity which death, even violent death, so often gives, and one that Bobby had never seen before. Of that at least he was sure.
“What happens,” Bobby asked, “when a woman with an irresistible attraction for men, and the man with an irresistible attraction for women, meet? When glamour meets glamour . . . ?”
At that moment the door opened and a deep, harsh, husky voice said:
“Discussing my murder, are you?”
“There’s a spot of trouble this morning. Old gentleman found dead in his bath.”
Bobby answered: “there may be one chance in a million it’s natural death.”
“Why should anyone want to pinch the dagger—except to do somebody in?”
No one answered this question.
“It’s murder all right; no one could bash his own head in the way this chap’s was.”
“The poor devil’s mouth was filled with feathers. An unconscious man with his mouth full of feathers wouldn’t have had much chance of surviving, and this one didn’t.”
The stage was set, Bobby thought, the actors in position; but how the drama would develop, that he could not even guess.
“You called him a ‘wrong ’un’. Why? Birds of a feather know each other? Is that the idea? Or do you really know something about him? Oh, and don’t lie.”
Bobby studied the Rembrandt intently, with his own strange intensity of gaze that seemed as if by sheer strength of will it could force all secrets to reveal themselves.
“You’re the murder man, aren’t you?” Mrs. James demanded.
“Well, that’s not exactly how I describe myself,” Bobby answered.