(first published 1934)
Christopher St John Sprigg (1907 – 1937)
The scene of this classic ‘whodunit’ story from the ‘Golden Age of detective fiction’ is a 1930’s Aero Club, filled with small open-cockpit aircraft and a host of eccentric characters. Experienced flight instructor George Furnace dies in a plane crash near the airfield, in full view of witnesses. The verdict at the inquest is ‘death by misadventure’. But an Australian bishop, who had signed up for flying lessons just before the incident, starts to question this. Could it have been murder? Or suicide? It takes some persistent work by police detectives Creighton and Bray, that takes them all over the UK and to France, to unravel the whole story.
Author Christopher St John Sprigg, also known under his pseudonym Christopher Caudwell (1907-1937) had a passion for aviation; he had previously published two beginners textbooks on the art of flying, so presumably he got his details right. Famous crime fiction novelist Dorothy L. Sayers wrote a glowing review for this novel at the time. (Summary by Anna Simon)