Good news from the nice people at Dean Street Press: ten more books by E R Punshon are being reissued this month. They kindly sent me There’s a Reason for Everything to read. This is the 21st Bobby Owen book and he is now a Deputy Chief Constable. Bobby is not the type to sit behind a desk issuing orders and when there’s a local murder, he takes an active role in the investigation. The book was first published in 1945 and has a wartime background, so Bobby is contending with the problems caused by a lack of manpower and petrol. Even the Deputy Chief Constable has to ride a bike.
The story begins when two psychical researchers are investigating a vast, deserted mansion called Nonpareil, which is supposedly haunted. It was also the repository of a vast collection of artworks, mostly worthless. But there’s a possibility that the house once contained a previously unknown painting by Vermeer. If it exists, can it be genuine? This is a treasure people are prepared to kill for, and they do. Bobby has his hands full chasing up everyone with a connection to Nonpareil and following red herrings. But are they? He doesn’t like coincidences and sure enough, all the mysterious events in the area turn out to be connected. In his introduction Curtis Brown suggests Punshon may have got the idea about forged art from the true story of the Dutch forger Han van Meegeren. The Bobby Owen books are well worth reprinting; they have tricky plots and plenty of interesting characters. I enjoyed this one very much.