Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Death After Breakfast: Hugh Pentecost

I read the Pierre Chambrun novels by Hugh Pentecost years ago, and remember them fondly. Chambrun is the manager of a luxury hotel in New York. The narrator of the stories is Mark Haskell, the hotel’s public relations director.  He is devoted to Chambrun, as is the rest of the upper level staff.

Summary from the back cover of my paperback edition:
Something was terribly wrong. Pierre Chambrun, manager of the elegant Beaumont Hotel, was late for breakfast–an ominous sign for a man whose schedule ran with the precision of a fine Swiss watch. What's more, he was nowhere to be found.
But that was just the start. Suddenly a beautiful socialite is found dead in her suite. Suddenly the most prominent guests are under suspicion. Chambrun's loyal staff must find him and the missing piece in a deadly puzzle before ... a sadistic killer strikes again.
The problem with reading this particular story as my re-introduction to the series is that Chambrun is missing for a good bit of the story. Thus this is not typical of the series. Although Pierre Chambrun usually does the sleuthing in this series, in this story, Mark Haskell and the hotel's security chief, Jerry Dodd, are in the spotlight.

There really is not a lot of tension about whether Chambrun will be rescued, but there is the mystery as to who would abduct him and why. I actually did begin to suspect the reason as the plot progressed but that did not spoil the fun for me. And there is the complication of the murder of the hotel guest to solve.

I do think it is the setting of a luxury hotel, and the behind the scenes look at how it runs, that appeals the most to me.  Of course if the characters were not interesting, that might not be enough. I enjoyed reading this book, it was very nostalgic for me. I will read one or two more to see if the quality holds overall in the series and continues to entertain.

About the author:

Hugh Pentecost was a pseudonym used by Judson Philips. Philips wrote many, many mystery novels (over 100?), including standalone books and series about John Jericho, Uncle George Crowder, Luke Bradley, Pierre Chambrun, Julian Quist, Grant Simon, Dr. John Smith, and Peter Styles. But it is only his Pierre Chambrun series that I have read. Twenty two books in that series were published between 1962 and 1988.


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Publisher: Dell, 1980 (orig. pub. 1978).
Length:    208 pages 
Format:    Paperback 
Series:     Pierre Chambrun
Setting:    New York City
Genre:     Mystery
Source:    I purchased this book at the Planned Parenthood book sale, 2019.

13 comments:

  1. Shamefully, I don't think I've ever read any of Pentecost's work. Thanks for reminding me to rectify this, Tracy!

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    1. His books are worth a try, John. I have a couple in the Julian Quist series to try, and I read an interesting article by Ed Lynskey about the John Jericho series, which he describes as "flawed but still fun," which sounds good to me.

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    1. I am sure I got a lot of these from the library when I was younger, Rick.

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  3. I really liked this series, Tracy, and it's been too long since I read the books. You've reminded me of what a good series that was (like you, I prefer when Chambrun takes the lead). I ought to look those up again...

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    1. I would like to try some of the earlier books in the series, Margot. I don't remember which ones I read years ago.

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  4. I don't recall even hearing about this author before, but I like a hotel setting so it sounds quite appealing to me.

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    1. When I was younger, Katrina, a lot of his books came out in Detective Book Club editions (three mysteries in one book) published in the US, and that may have been where I found them. I think you would enjoy the hotel setting, especially in that period of time.

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  5. I loved the John Jericho short stories in EQ mystery magazine.

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    1. I will be looking for some of Pentecost's novels and short stories about John Jericho, Yankee Cowboy. Thanks for the recommendation.

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  6. This reminds me of the first Albert Campion Mystery I read, Tracy, in which Campion was pretty much absent throughout. The lux hotel setting gives this somewhat cozy feeling. I just might give Pentecost a try.

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    1. A lot of the Miss Marple stories are like that too, Mathew. And the Maud Silver books. I just wanted more Pierre Chambrun this time. It was still a good story though, although I suspect it was a bit more serious and dark than most of the entries.

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  7. I might have something by him, or maybe false memory. I want to get back to cataloguing what I have next year, so I'll find out then.

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