The Bahamas Murder Case

He knew it was a vain hope. Charles Cavanaugh was indestructible. He had broken everything you could name, from the law to the cover of the tank of the water closet, but he had never broken any piece or portion of Charles Cavanaugh.

The Bahamas Murder Case is the first of three mysteries in a 1950s omnibus by the Detective Book Club. It’s by Leslie Ford, who wrote The Philadelphia Murder Story, but is a stand-alone.

Betsy Drayton couldn’t be more thrilled to spend her vacation in Nasau with Scott Beckwith at his Uncle Charles’ house, but a string of coincidences brings her past back to haunt her. Years ago her father committed suicide when his plans to abscond with both money and secretary went up in smoke. Others, however, believe not all is as it seems. And when one of those people is murdered, Betsy must try to piece together the present in order to unlock the truth of the past.

The Bahamas Murder Case functions much more as a suspense book than as a mystery. The book has a very small cast due to the confined island setting. In addition, Ford writes from the viewpoints of several different characters  (all third person) so that there is never really any question of who or even how. The suspense lies in why characters behave the way they do, and in waiting for Betsy to figure out what the reader already knows. In fact, from the first chapter we are given the idea that Mr. Drayton and his secretary were framed and murdered. The story is the shortest in the omnibus (only 150 pages), and could probably have been cut down more.

Ford is still a pleasant author to read, with good descriptions of setting. We also are able to get complete, distinct pictures of all the characters by seeing things from their perspectives. The scene where Betsy hears people outside the cottage at night is particularly suspenseful. I’d hate to call it her “best,” as the cover does, but it’s still enough to make me want to look for more of hers.

Published in: on August 8, 2009 at 8:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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