John Baxter, official to the League of Nations, is meeting his old friend, Colonel Granby, in a café in Zaragoza (in Spain, for those geographically challenged readers). Soon, he finds himself pursued/in pursuit of a villainous hunchback and finds himself having to dispose of a dead body.
This is just a prelude to the adventure that Baxter and Granby find themselves in, up against The Four Armourers, in a race to… do something first and the fate of the world (possibly) hangs in the balance… To be honest, I can’t say much about it without spoiling things. Read on to find out why.
Francis Beeding was the pseudonym of a pair of writers, John Leslie Palmer and Hilary Aiden St George Saunders, who wrote between 1925 and 1946. It seems from what little I can tell that they wrote a combination of spy stories, presumably the Colonel Granby tales, and actual mysteries. Although at least one cover that I can find describes “a Colonel Granby mystery”. I loved Death Walks In Eastrepps, but this one – let’s just say that the subtle advertising on the cover – Sit Up With Beeding – for this book as a cure for insomnia isn’t too far off.
To be fair, it’s not a mystery, but an adventure story, sort of an early years James Bond caper, as Baxter and Granby bounce around early twentieth century Spain for some reason. And I have to say for some reason, as it takes about 60% of the page count before Granby tells Baxter what’s going on and then, in a teeth-grindingly irritating way, Baxter, the narrator, ignores passing that information on and tells us:
I feel, however, that my immediate business is to get on with the story; and if you read to the end of it, you will, perhaps, agree with me.
Interesting choice of the word “if” there, as I was in serious danger of putting this to one side. And I don’t agree with him because even by the end of the tale, there’s precious little information on the MacGuffin that’s been pushing the story forward. But I persevered, because there’s some fun dated language bouncing around at times – such as the lovely dancer in the Café Pelican who, apparently, “lashes the dons to frenzy”.
So, a disappointment after two strong #1930book entries for Crimes Of The Century. A shame, as I had high hopes for this one. But it’s not a mystery, just a spy adventure and that’s not my sort of thing at all. It seems that there a few Not really recommended, but if it’s your sort of thing, then there are fun bits and bobs hidden around the unsurprising plot.