Billed as “the ugliest case that Carolus Deene ever chose to investigate,” Leo Bruce’s Death of a Bovver Boy finds the redoubtable schoolmaster-turned-detective involved in yet another mystery murder—this time among teenage outcasts and skinheads in rural 1970s England.
When Carolus’s housekeeper, stoic Mrs. Stick, announces one evening that her husband has seen the naked body of a youth lying in “a peculiar hunched-up position” in a ditch beside the road, his hair shorn and his wrists slashed, Carolus knows that he has, at last, met the supreme challenge to test his powers of deduction. And this is just the beginning: from this point on, the detective is involved in a lively series of adventures infiltrating England’s provincial underworld and gaining insight into the dead boy’s unhappy background and surroundings. A rude collection of thugs and punks become involved in the search for the murderer; all are equally dangerous and each might be to blame. Only through his ingenuity and determination to persevere—despite all the forces urging him to the contrary—does Carolus finally solve the mystery.
This is one of Leo Bruce’s grittiest novels, giving the reader an insight into the milieu of rebellious 1970s England, a world where prejudice was the order of the day and hostility and violence were the only means of survival.