Thursday, January 28, 2016

Which Doctor: Review

Dr. Honeychurch: But since I can’t claim to be anything of a pharmacological chemist myself, I can’t be sure that there is any simple quantitative mode of assay available for pethidine in any case. There’s a crude biological method, of course; rats’ tails are exposed to radiant heat—
Inspector Burnivel: Well, just remember that we’re after a murderer; I don’t know if we’ve got the time to tinker about with any other sort of rat.

Which Doctor (1954) by Edward Candy, the pseudonym for Dr. Barbara Alison Boodson Neville, is set at the Beantwich-Bannister Hospital for Children. Professor Fabian Honeychurch arrives for a scheduled Royal Society of Medicine conference in a rather unorthodox manner. He crawls over a balcony where two boys have their beds--making the acquaintance of the rather precocious Tom Bryant and observing the sleeping Teddy Bannister. Later that night, the brilliant but unpleasant Dr. Martin Sandeman (featured speaker at the conference) is bludgeoned to death in the grounds and Tom disappears from his bed. Has the boy run away--the popular answer--or did he see something in the night that caused the murderer to snatch him or worse? 

The heavy favorite for chief suspect is Dr. Rutherford, Sandeman's colleague, who had a disagreement with Sandeman that night and who was going to lose his job due to Sandeman's influence on the head of the hospital. Inspector Burnivel from Scotland Yard is called in and seems to be casting his net far and wide for suspects--focusing first on one and then another. Honeychurch has his own ideas, particularly about the innocence of Rutherford, but each man's first thoughts will be proved wrong before the crime is brought home to the proper villain. And they will have to wade through a controlled experiment, possible drug abuse, and a few psychiatric diagnoses to find the answers.

This was a more satisfying read than Candy's Words for Murder Perhaps which I read in 2014. Words was a decent mystery, but this has an extra layer. Professor Honeychurch is a likeable character and I particularly enjoyed his interactions with Tom Bryant and Rutherford. It's a shame that Tom didn't get more time in the story because he was really quite engaging. The mystery did keep me guessing. I was quite sure I had spotted the culprit and the motive...but Candy led me astray. My main quibble with her is that she spreads red herrings about liberally, but doesn't quite give enough genuine clues. Ironically, this outing, her first mystery, does do a better job at this than Words which was her final mystery novel. ★★ and 3/4--almost four (and rounded to four on Goodreads).

This fulfills the "Nurse on the cover" category for the Golden Vintage Scavenger Hunt (she's lurking amongst the doctors) as well as the "blunt instrument" category in the Mystery Reporter Challenge.

Complete List of Challenges fulfilled: 100 Plus Challenge, Outdo Yourself, Vintage Mystery Challenge, My Kind of Mystery, Mount TBR Challenge, What's in a Name, Cloak & Dagger, Triple Dog Dare, A-Z Mystery Author Challenge, Mystery Reporter, Women Challenge, Title Fight, 52 in 52 Weeks 


Anonymous said...

Not an author I have caught up with yet - not sure it sounds like my cup of tea actually. Either way, really enjoyed the review - and very belatedly, happy new year Bev.

Peggy Ann said...

Bev, I have an Edward Candy book! I've dug it out for the challenge. Bones of Contention, looking forward to finally reading it.

Bev Hankins said...

Sergio: This first one is, I believe, her best--although I read Bones of Contention so long ago that I don't have a clear recollection of it. Definitely more clues on display than in Words--but still not enough (in my opinion) to give the reader a fair chance to solve it. Or, perhaps, I was particularly dense while reading. Glad to have you back!

Peggy Ann: I'll be interested to see your review. Bones was the first one I ever read of hers--back in the mists of time--and I have no real sense of the book at all.

fredamans said...

Sounds like a great read! I love ones that keep you guessing!