The Toff & the Runaway Bride (1959) by John Creasey
In this 41st mystery in the series, the gentleman adventurer Richard Rollison, aka the Toff, is up to his top hat in a tangled web of bigamy, blackmail and murder. He watches his friend Major Guy Lessing wed the beautiful Barbara Lorne. She makes a stunning bride...and when she catches the Toff's eye on her way out of the church--a frightened one. When she appears at his apartment a few hours later, sans new husband, she's terrified. Terrified of what she's gotten herself into. Because an anonymous well-wish has sent her a copy of a marriage license that says Major Lessing is already married. She doesn't want to believe it's true and she asks "Rolly" to find out the truth.
The first thing he finds is the supposed first wife dead in the honeymoon cottage Lessing had rented for his new bride. He also found a world of hurt when the killer snuck up on him and gave him a fair beating. Once recovered from that little contretemps, the Toff next finds a third Mrs. Lessing in the flat Lessing had recently shared with his friend Major Carruthers. What seems like deja vu hits when this Mrs. Lessing is strangled as well. It's beginning to look like Lessing is a modern Bluebeard--at least that's what the papers are saying. The Toff is sure his friend is innocent, but with the evidence piling up and Scotland Yard on their heels, he's going to have to work fast to prove it.
This was a fun read--very much like Jeeves and Wooster crossed with the Saint. Except the Toff is quite a bit more on the ball than Bertie Wooster. There's not a lot of detective work going on here with the Toff rolling along from one murder to another to a kidnapping. But if you like thrillerish adventures in while buzzing about in a Bentley and dressed up in morning clothes and top hat, then the Toff is definitely the adventurous gentleman for you. Definitely a different style of book from Creasey's Inspector West and Gideon series. I've one more Toff book on my TBR pile and I look forward to sampling it in the future. A little over ★★★
First line: On that beautiful morning in May, the Honourable Richard Rollison certainly lived up to his sobriquet, for he was known as the Toff, and he looked like one.
Last line: "There is her message, sir," said Jolly.
Deaths = two strangled/neck broken