Ludovic Travers and his wife Bernice are on a visit to France. Travers had met a picture dealer named Braque in London a few weeks ago. Braque got to know about a Henri Larne painting that Travers owns. Now that Travers is in France, he accepts Braque’s invitation to visit his private collection.
Travers speaks to Inspector Gallois and expresses his doubts. Gallois asks Travers to visit the man’s apartment and then decide what to do next. Travers saw Braque, all right, but the poor man had a knife stuck in his ribs. The body was still warm, meaning Braque was killed minutes before Travers’ arrival.
Braque co-owns an antique shop with a friend. The friend says that Braque spoke of a ‘gold mine.’ Henri Larne is well acquainted with Travers. The painter had gifted Travers one of his works years ago. Why was Braque interested in Larne’s works? And what is the significance of Larne’s signature – a flying donkey – got to do with this case?
It is not until the end that Travers realises the significance of the ‘Flying Donkey.’
This is the second Ludovic Travers book that I read, the first being The Case of the Climbing Rat. I was disappointed with The Case of the Climbing Rat and I blame myself for it. I chose to read it at the wrong time. If I think of the story now, I feel that it was indeed a pretty good story, albeit a bit draggy and too many things going on at once (or at least, I felt so at that time…)
So, The Case of the Flying Donkey starts with a flashback of Henri gifting one of his paintings to Travers. Travers is later married to Bernice and she dismisses the painting and it finds its way into the attic. She questions Travers about the weird signature :
“You remember Whistler’s butterfly signature,” he said. “Well, Larne puts what you might call a painted jackass to everything he paints, which, by the way, is very little.”
“Yes, but why a donkey?”
“Larne,” he said. “I know the pronunciation isn’t the same, but think of your French.”
She stared for a moment, then smiled.
“But, of course. L`ane is French for donkey. A funny name for anyone to have, don’t you think?”
I haven’t read the previous books in this series so I am guessing that Gallois and Travers have worked together before. There is a mention or two of how Gallois is known to work in secrecy. Not just that, the man is always gloomy.
He doesn’t even smile like other people, by the way. There’s something very sad and sympathetic about it, as though he could look into the future and see you were going to have a remarkably trying time.
Well, Travers is right in saying the above about Gallois. The man surely has his ways of investigating a case. Throughout the story, there are instances where Gallois is one step ahead and Travers is totally in the dark about the happenings.
As Travers watched the door close on him, he had once again that queer feeling of being on the outside of things.
The story was well-paced. With a couple of red-herrings, the reader is in for a surprise every now and then – thanks to Gallois and his secrecy. But Travers is not an average guy, he’s intelligent too. After all, it is he who realises the significance of the ‘flying donkey.’ It goes without saying that this revelation was the most interesting part of the story.
Braque is murdered but why? Henri’s step-brother Pierre is suspected of some shady-dealings with Braque. Is it possible that a deal gone wrong resulted in Braque’s murder? Elise Deschamps plays a very interesting role in the story. Saying anything more about the story is going to make this review a spoiler. But let me tell you that somehow things seem to be connected – Braque’s murder, Henri’s signature, Pierre and Elise. How and Why is something that you will have to find out by reading this book. 😀
The Case of the Flying Donkey was an engrossing read. It goes without saying that the characters I liked the most include Travers, Gallois and Charles (Gallois’ protege). Also, the killer had an interesting past so yeah, I liked his character portrayal too. 😀 Charles is a master of disguise. When Travers first gets down from the taxi (on his way to visit Braque), he sees a beggar at the door. He dismisses the guy only to realise that the beggar is none other than… Charles!! The master of disguise digs some more details that helps Travers put two and two together and find the culprit.
The next book in this series is The Case of the Climbing Rat. I am planning to re-read it over the weekend. If you are a fan of British Mystery series then do give Ludovic Travers series a try. If you want to read some more reviews (of Travers series), hop over to The Puzzle Doctor’s blog. Also, Dean Street Press has recently re-released few of Lodovic Travers series so do have a look at their list.
Writing Style: 4.5/5
Character Development: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Title: The Case of the Flying Donkey (A Ludovic Travers Mystery #21)
Author: Christopher Bush
Republished on 2nd July 2018 by Dean Street Press
Purchase Link: Amazon.com
Featured Image Credits: Goodreads