FRONT PAGE MURDER
by Peter Bartram
Condemned man Archie Flowerdew is to hang for the murder of rival artist Percy Despart. Convinced of his innocence, Archie's niece, Tammy, persuades Evening Chronicle reporter Colin Crampton to take up the case, but the more Colin investigates, the more it looks like Archie is guilty. But as Colin continues to probe he realises that he is putting his job, and his life, in peril...
Join Colin in this Swinging Sixties fun adventure, where the thrills and the laughs continue right to the last page. The third book in the popular Crampton of the Chronicle mystery series.
This is the third full length novel in the humourous Crampton of the Chronicle mystery series set in Brighton.
Percy Despart has been murdered. He was a horrible man who drew mucky postcards for a living. His cartoons depicted many prominent people in compromising positions. The cards were funny but not for the poor mugs with their reputations trashed. As a result, Despart was not liked and there would be lots of suspects for the repulsive lech’s murder, if there wasn’t already a man on death row for his killing.
Despart had been confronted by someone in a long, hooded coat, a ghostly figure he couldn’t label as male or female. He had tried to defend himself but was stabbed in the neck by his own pencil. But was it the condemned man or one of the forgers, colluders, or people whose reputation he’d ruined – or someone else?
It’s approaching Christmas, 1963, and Archie Flowerdew is set to hang before Christmas day. Flowerdrew is also an artist, a rival of Despart’s, if more respectable. Flowerdew is waiting in his cell at Wandsworth Prison thanks to a magazine with his fingerprints on it and a motive: he had vowed revenge on Despart whom he blamed for his sister’s death.
Flowerdrew’s niece, Tammy, is convinced he’s innocent and persuades the Evening Chronicle reporter Colin Crampton to take up the case. Crampton had already been asked by his news editor to attended Flowerdrew’s hanging, the crime correspondent off for a scoop that looked likely after Tammy’s one woman campaign for her uncle’s clemency failed.
Continuing to protest his innocence, Tammy convinces Crampton to take a look at the case. He uses his usual sources, the clipping cousins in the basement, the old-school tactics, and helps. The more he digs, the more it seems that Flowerdrew may have done it. After all, he claims to have an alibi but can’t say who it is. But Tammy needs assistance. Colin and his girlfriend Shirley keep Tammy from the cops, as she’s at risk of being imprisoned herself, and Crampton finds the police to be a problem he must face whilst trying to play the sleuth.
Flowerdrew is a colourful character; a drinker who placed clues in his drawings. Crampton is as likable as ever, and his landlady has the usual farcical mess that requires his help. It’s another entertaining read with a suitably nasty antagonist. I didn’t spot the killer. I did enjoy the way the leads came about, the comical descriptions, and the set pieces.
About Peter Bartram
Peter Bartram is the author of the Crampton of the Chronicle novels and short stories. He has also written 21 non-fiction books and spent much of his career as a journalist. He lives in West Sussex, UK.