Take three famous detectives from Britain's Golden Age of the detective story: Dorothy L. Sayers's Lord Peter Wimsey, Agatha Christie's M. Hercule Poirot and G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown. What would have happened if all three had been turned loose on the same case?
Well, we may never know the exact answer - they were the creations of three very different authors, after all. But we can come very close, as "Lord Simon Plimsoll," "M. Amer Picon" and "Monsignor Smith" discovered when all three of those Great Detectives converged on one locked room mystery in Leo Bruce's marvelous mystery-parody, "Case for Three Detectives." It's the subject of this week's review on our Classic Mysteries podcast, and you can listen to the full review here.
What happens is a delight: each of the three Great Detectives investigates independently and comes up with an absolutely brilliant solution, solidly reasoned, brilliant in its logic. Wrong, but brilliant. Meanwhile, the plodding, local police sergeant, Bruce's own Sgt. Beef waits for the Great Detectives to finish up - so that he can go ahead and arrest the real criminal. But then, as Sgt. Beef has been telling the Great Detectives throughout, "I know who done it!"
Bruce is marvelously funny as he skewers the Great Detectives - and their styles of speaking and detecting - while at the same time presenting a genuine locked room puzzle to the reader. This 1936 book deserves a much wider reading audience; if you enjoy any of the original detectives, you'll find this a laugh-out-loud parody combined with a satisfying mystery.