Friday, August 24, 2012

FFB: Fair Murder - Nicholas Brady


U.S. edition with a title change
(Henry Holt & Co., 1933)
 Reverend Ebenezer Buckle solves his second case in this detective novel that shares a lot with the weird menace pulps of the 1930s American newsstands. Buckle is a lively amateur sleuth who reminds me of Dr. Fell and Sir Henry Merrivale. He's a brilliant man with lots of knowledge of criminal behavior, is well read in psychology and is an avid amateur botanist and gardener. In fact it is usually while doing some gardening task or examining a certain species of flower that he gets his "Eureka!" moment and all the pieces of the puzzling crime fall into place.

This is considered one of the most outlandish and gruesome of the Brady novels all of which tend to incorporate the bizarre. A murder is committed at the freak show midway of a traveling carnival. Sandra, the fat lady, is found stabbed in the neck in a tent surrounded by muddy ground. No footprints anywhere outside the tent or near her body indicating a possible assailant and the only approach seemed to be by someone on his knees stabbing upward. But how the murderer got into the tent is a mystery. One of the freaks in the sideshow is considered as a primary suspect because of his skill in throwing knives -- with his teeth since he has no arms! This is one Harry Stephen Keeler might have written.

Also worth mentioning is the seemingly miraculous transformation of the previously shapely Martha into the immensely fat Sandra. How and why did that happen? The unveiling of the culprit and the reasons for Sandra's transformation are part of the horrifying elements of what is definitely a nightmarish crime novel. I was reminded of The Cadaver of Gideon Wyck, a science fiction/horror novel by American writer Alexander Laing.

I have been lucky to find three of the five books John V. Turner wrote as "Nicholas Brady." Only two were published in the US and the remaining three were available only in UK editions. Strangely I have found all of my copies in the UK editions. Currently, there are no copies of this book for sale anywhere that I could find. You might try interlibrary loan. I have previously reviewed The House of Strange Guests last year. For more on Ebenezer Buckle visit this page from an excellent website devoted to clerical mysteries.

The Rev. Ebenezer Buckle series
The House of Strange Guests (1932)
Fair Murder (US title: The Carnival Murder) (1933)
Week-end Murder (1933)
Ebenezer Investigates (1934)
Coupons for Death (1944)

3 comments:

  1. I truly appreciate your informative reviews of these Nicholas Brady books. I have managed to track down a copy of 'First Round Murder' which was published under the Turner name. This author was skilled at developing detectives with fascinating characters. What a shame that they have not appeared in reprint editions.

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  2. Ebeneezer Buckle? I love it. I'm a sucker for a detective with a fun name. Never heard of him or these books except maybe in your previous post (gone now from memory of course). I don't know if these books are for me since I'm not big into 'gruesome'. But you never know. I still enjoyed reading your review, John. Sometimes I feel that reading your review is just enough. Know what I mean?

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  3. This one is gruesome indeed! Turner was an interesting writer, yet another unjustly forgotten one. The mind boggles at how many interesting writers from the GA are forgotten today. One day, when all the copyrights have lapsed there's going to be a print-on-demand bonanza like people haven't ever seen before.

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