Book Review: Headline Murder – A Crampton of the Chronicle Mystery, by Peter Bartram

Publisher: Roundfire Books  |  Publication date: 28th August 2015  |  Edition: Paperback (review copy)

Headline Murder My Review

Headline Murder CoverI thoroughly enjoyed this newspaper caper set in the early 1960’s.

In search of the next big story for the Evening Chronicle crime reporter, Colin Crampton, is running out of ideas fast, as anything worthy of front page news has all but dried up in Brighton. Short of committing offences himself he’s not going to conjure up the sort of copy that is demanded by the news editor, Frank Figgis.

With things looking grim he receives a nod toward a crazy golf course. No, not to pass the time. A local business owner called Arnold Trumper seems to have vanished without a trace and as Crampton has nothing else to run with he pursues the story, only to discover a whole lot more than he bargained for!

His early enquiries turn up some curious information about a missing person from years ago with links to the present (no crazy golf pun intended). Instinct tells him that he could be on to something.

The very idea of a possible scoop entices our reporting rascal into all kinds of situations, including a run-in with Brighton’s most ‘influential’ character, Septimus Darke. Crampton has to get pretty creative to get his story. Only quick thinking and a drive for the truth will nudge him closer to solving the mystery of the missing Mr Trumper, that is if he can shake the chaps at a rival paper off his tail!

Daily life sees our reporter trying desperately to stick to deadlines to please His Holiness (in the form of the chronicle’s editor, Gerald Pope), hopelessly keeping dates with the sharp-tongued Shirley-the-Sheila (his girlfriend, for now at least) and regularly selecting pastries as literal sweeteners for the girls working tirelessly in the archive office, which is lovingly referred to as ‘the morgue’. Here, the girls help him find historic clues to assist his quest and their interaction and conversation snippets are absolutely priceless.

There’s corruption, red herrings and the brief appearance of an insulting budgerigar that can only repeat one phrase, but the timing is perfect. Good old-fashioned leg work and resourcefulness will be the winning combination to help our unlikely hero in this refreshing and witty journalistic mystery.

It read like a breath of fresh air and I can’t wait for the next one!

Rating: 5/5

(Huge thanks to the Author for providing a paperback copy of this book for review – it’s a little marvel!)

Headline Murder Book Summary

It’s August 1962, and Colin Crampton, the Brighton Evening Chronicle’s crime reporter, is desperate for a front-page story. But it’s the silly season for news and the only tip-off Crampton has is about the disappearance of the seafront’s crazy-golf proprietor, Arnold Trumper. Crampton thinks the story is about as useful as a set of concrete water-wings. But when he learns that Trumper’s vanishing act is linked to an unsolved murder, he scents a front-page scoop.

Powerful people are determined Crampton must not discover the truth. But he is quite prepared to use every newspaper scam in the book to land his exclusive. The trouble is it’s his girlfriend, feisty Australian Shirley, who too often ends up on the wrong end when a scam goes wrong. Crampton has to overcome dangers they never mentioned at journalism school before he writes his story. Headline Murder will keep you guessing and smiling right to the last page.


Headline Murder Author Links

Peter Bartram Small Profile PicPeter Bartram brings years of experience as a journalist to his Crampton of the Chronicle crime series – which features crime reporter Colin Crampton in 1960s Brighton. Peter has done most things in journalism from door-stepping for quotes to writing serious editorials. He’s interviewed cabinet ministers and crooks – at least the crooks usually answer the questions, he says. He’s pursued stories in locations as diverse as 700 feet down a coal mine and a courtier’s chambers at Buckingham Palace. (The former is easier to get into but at least you don’t have to wear a hat with a lamp on it in the latter.)

Peter wrote 21 non-fiction books, including five ghost-written, in areas such as biography, current affairs and how-to titles, before turning to crime – and penning Headline Murder, the first novel in the Crampton series. As an appetiser for the main course, there is a selection of Crampton of the Chronicle short stories at Peter is a member of the Society of Authors and the Crime Writers’ Association.


To read a guest post by Peter Bartram about the interesting and creative ‘techniques’ applied by some when trying to get that headline, incorporating the fictional Colin Crampton:






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