Friday, November 24, 2017

The Budapest Parade Murders: Review

(Francis) Van Wyck Mason spent quite a bit of time in Germany when he was young and then served in World War I as an ambulance driver when still a teenager. He later owned an importing business and traveled in Europe, Russia, the Near East, North Africa (nine weeks with his own caravan), the West Indies, Central Africa, and across Central America. His travel experiences around the world gave him the background to write his mystery/intrigue novels featuring Captain Hugh North, a smooth, capable Army Intelligence officer. The Budapest Parade Murders (1935) is the 10th in the series.

It begins on a train headed to Budapest where a huge Disarmament Conference is set to take place. Sir William Woodman, celebrated pacifist, is headed to the conference with a portmanteau full of letters and documents which he believes will prove to all the interested parties that certain businessmen and industrial leaders are maneuvering things so they can all make a bundle when nations distrust of nations leads to a grand re-arming. He's sure that all the leaders will see reason and stand down from their calls to arm themselves against their neighbors.

But somebody doesn't want Sir William to succeed and he is murdered on the train and his portmanteau stolen. Luckily, Captain Hugh North is on the train and immediately starts hunting for the culprit and the documents. He has to work his way through Russian agents, German nationals, American and British industry leaders and encounters a femme fatale or two along the way. He also has to work his way through the fine hotels and resting places of the diplomatic and social elite who have gathered in Budapest. The story combines all the intrigue of a spy thriller with a solid mystery full of traditional clues and red herrings. I have to say that I didn't expect that particular denouement.... 

This was my first experience with Mason and his Captain North series and I'm glad to say that I've got a few more of his adventures waiting on my TBR pile. This struck just the right balance between spy thriller and traditional mystery--lots of action and lots of clues. ★★★ and 1/2

[Finished on 11/18/17]

No comments: