10 December 2015

Review: TEN STAR CLUES, E.R Punshon

  • first published 1941
  • #15 in the Bobby Owen series
  • File Size: 862 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Dean Street Press (December 7, 2015)
  • Publication Date: December 7, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B017BWPLMG
Synopsis (Amazon)

“I’ll have breakfast ready before you’re dressed,” Olive said, her mind full of bacon and eggs, tea, toast.

“Can’t stop,” Bobby told her. “I’ve to be at Castle Wych at once.”

“What’s happened there?”

“Murder,” Bobby answered as he made for the door.


Bobby Owen has left London and is now a policeman in the bucolic county of Wychshire. The local community is stunned when a missing heir returns to Castle Wych, determined to claim his inheritance. But following the ensuing dispute over his identity, Castle Wych plays host to murder. There are ten “star clues” investigated by the resourceful Bobby, with help from his wife Olive, in this delightful and classic example of the golden age mystery novel.

Ten Star Clues, originally published in 1941, is the fifteenth novel in the Bobby Owen mystery series. This new edition features an introduction by crime fiction historian Curtis Evans.

My Take

I read this novel as part of my participation in a meme at the blog Past Offences where the books read for December 2015 were all published in 1941.

The setting is England in 1940, preparing for a war that most think will never happen. Earl Wych lost three heirs one after another in the First World War, and then came the news that his grandson who had gone rather hurriedly to the United States was also dead. The current heir is a great nephew. Then a man visits the family solicitors with the claim that he is the dead grandson. The immediate family all thinks he is an impostor but Earl Wych and his wife the Countess surprise everyone by acknowledging the arrival as Bertram, the lost grandson.

This is a nice mystery for those who like a puzzle. Detective Inspector Bobby Owen works methodically with the Chief Constable on an astonishing array of suspects, assessing their opportunity and motive. 

Punshon, the author, was apparently a great admirer of Agatha Christie, but this novel is stylistically quite different to hers.

It is a carefully plotted Golden Age police procedural which left me feeling that I wouldn't mind trying another in the series, perhaps an earlier one, at some stage. I found the references to the impending war interesting, especially the lack of any idea by the characters that this was going to be very different style of warfare.

My rating: 4.2

About the author
Ernest Robertson Punshon (1872–1956) was an English novelist and literary critic of the early 20th century. He also wrote under the pseudonym Robertson Halket.[1] Primarily writing on crime and deduction, he enjoyed some literary success in the 1930s and 1940s. Today, he is remembered, in the main, as the creator of Police Constable Bobby Owen, the protagonist of many of Punshon's novels. He reviewed many of Agatha Christie's novels for The Guardian on their first publication.[2] Punshon was also a prolific writer of short stories, and a selection of his crime and horror fiction has recently been collected together.

3 comments:

pastoffences said...

Thanks for playing 1941 Kerrie - I'm curious about the dates and the 'war that most think will never happen'. Was the book written pre-1939, do you think?

Kerrie said...

The e-book has a good introduction, which talks about it being written in early 1940 when preparations and evacuation plans etc are being made for war, but few people believed it would come to anything

vicki (skiourophile) said...

I've read the first 15 Bobby Owens now, and I think Punshon gets better - more complex, less melodramatic - as he goes on. The very early ones were enjoyable but a bit less logical. I thought this one was very well done.

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