Wherever reporter Colin Crampton of the Brighton Evening Chronicle shows up, a dead body is sure to appear. Like when he and his girlfriend are out to dinner, and her rare steak gets a lot rarer when blood starts dripping from the ceiling.
It’s 1964, and Crampton’s reporting seems to always connect to a crime wave. The dead man turns out to be something of a closet Nazi. And then Crampton’s publisher discovers his brother his missing, and Crampton gets the assignment to find him. Turns out the missing man was interned during World War II for his Nazi sympathies. And there’s a man running for public office who seems to share those Nazi sympathies.
And what is it with this tango dance studio? All the suspect roads seem to lead right to it.
The Tango School Mysteryby Peter Bartram is the newest installment of the Colin Crampton mysteries, and it includes Bartram’s trademark humor (often dark, like that rare steak) and insight into the journalism of the 1960s (having worked for a newspaper in the early 1970s, I can testify that the characters at Crampton’s newspaper fit the period, even across the Atlantic).
Crampton manages to finesse his way out of some seriously uncomfortable (and borderline illegal) situations. He hires a lock picker to get inside a delivery van. When he bangs on the door of the van owner’s house, he finds a dead body. He manages to extricate himself and alert the police without the police knowing his involvement.
What Crampton comes to realize is that this is no ordinary series of deaths; something major is afoot, and he has to find out what it is.
The Tango School Mysteryis a fun read, like all of the Crampton mysteries. Bartram, himself a former journalist, depicts newspaper life in the 1960s with humor, insight, and even affection.
Top photograph: an Argentine tango dance stage, by Fran Hogan via . Used with permission.