The Family Tree Mystery by Peter Bartram – an enjoyable Crampton of the Chronicle Adventure set in 1967
The Family Tree Mystery by Peter Bartram
This is another in the brilliant “Crampton of the Chronicles” series that I have so greatly enjoyed in the fairly recent past. According to the quote on the back cover I “Thoroughly Recommend the Entire Series” and I certainly do, especially on the evidence of this latest adventure. New readers can enjoyably start with this particular book as it reintroduces the characters and situations with well – paced comments as the Brighton crime reporter, Colin Crampton. tracks down another story of murder and machinations. This time it becomes little closer to home than most as the mystery seems to involve his girlfriend, model Shirley Goldsmith, who even in the somewhat different world of 1967 has far more skills, instinct and integrity than it may first appear. As always Colin and Shirley have to rely on their wits and survival instinct not only to sort out what is really happening, but to get them out of tricky situations where the danger is real. With his trademark humour and taste for chaos, Bartram has scored a hit once more with this story that mixes some real people and familiar situations in this enjoyable and fast paced novel. I was so pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this memorable adventure, and recommend it to anyone who enjoys tales written with real humour and excitement.
This book begins with revelations of Shirley’s family story from Australia, told in her usual forthright manner. The subject is raised by her receiving a letter from a mysterious man claiming to be a relative, urging her to be in contact as he has important information for her. Colin immediately agrees to take her to visit the man, but their arrival is shaped by the discovery of a body, as could only happen to Colin. Shaken by the find, they seek further information with an eye to finding out what message he wanted to pass on and also revealing a crime story from the beginning. A potential link with mysterious killings in Australia is a further worrying link to Shirley, but also the basis of a great story for the Brighton Evening Chronicle. Just as Colin is getting the background on the story his editor, Frank Figgis, interrupts with a demand that Colin drop everything and conduct a search of the newspaper offices for the manuscript of his memoirs. Dire threats aside, Colin realises that the pesky papers will reveal far too much about his own somewhat dubious methods of getting stories, so he agrees to the investigation. The far more complex matter of the missing revelations of Shirley’s family tree occupy the couple, especially as one or more genuine London gangsters seem to be involved, as well as a Scottish lord and some women cricketers. As Shirley and Colin must set off for some previously unknown places and demonstrate previously hidden skills, the hunt for the truth seems more complicated than ever.
This is a fast-paced novel which is well plotted and includes some remarkable ideas in its setting of the 1960s. The characters are also so well drawn, including the dangerous, the unlikable and the just awkward. This is a very funny book as well as an exciting read, with a keen eye for the detail of a journalist’s life even if the danger is perhaps a little exaggerated! I so enjoy Peter Bartram’s books, and I genuinely recommend this episode in the life of his special creations.