|U.S. edition with a title change|
(Henry Holt & Co., 1933)
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. Four of those five Brady mystery novels feature Rev. Buckle as the detective hero. 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. See the list below for other reviews of the mystery novels in this brief series. For more on Ebenezer Buckle visit this page on an excellent website devoted to clerical mysteries.
UPDATE: As of 2018, the Nicholas Brady books have been made available by a fly-by-night "reprint publisher" called Black Heath Classic Crime who puts out their editions as digital books only. You can find them at the UK version of amazon. Click here for the whole list. Be warned that due to the legal restrictions placed on digital books that US readers may not be able to purchase them.
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)