Fans of vintage crime fiction may be pleased to know that Dean Street Press has re-published ten murder mysteries by Christopher Bush, and plans to release the remaining 53 books in due course.
Bush published his first novel featuring the eccentric Ludovic Travers in 1926. The books have been out of print for many years, though they remain popular with classic crime enthusiasts. Visit this list on the publisher’s website to order e-books or paperbacks from Amazon.
“So what does this have to do with Stanhoe?” you may well ask. “Not a great deal” is the honest answer, but there is a connection with nearby Syderstone through Bush’s great-niece Avril MacArthur. Avril and her husband Malcolm lived in Syderstone until last year; Stanhoe residents may remember them for their work on Syderstone parish council, the village hall committee, and the RAF Bircham Newton Memorial Project.
Christopher Bush was born in Great Hockham, between Thetford and Attleborough. His father was a farm labourer, and although Christopher went on to become a schoolmaster – as well as serving in both World Wars – he retained a deep knowledge of Breckland ways.
He later put this rural background to good use in a series of Breckland novels he wrote under the name Michael Home. “The pseudonym was a vain attempt at distancing himself from a book drawing on village characters,” Avril says.
Suspicious neighbours notwithstanding, the Breckland books were quite successful. Critics described the first of them, God and the Rabbit (1934) as “a great novel of English country life”. Its successor, In This Valley (1935), was chosen by Howard Spring as his book of the month. The photo at left shows In This Valley in the window of Foyle’s bookshop in Charing Cross Road, London.
Avril plans one day to publish a biography of Christopher Bush, though she is finding it hard to match her great-uncle’s speed of writing. Bush produced over 80 books in total, sometimes writing four a year.