“The trouble with bookshops is that they are as bad as pubs. You start with one and then you drift to another, and before you know where you are you are on a gigantic book-binge.” (8)
The premise of a murder in a bookstore is simply irresistible. The line above just sucks me right into it. Max Boyle, a student of botany, is the amateur sleuth who, while rummaging through a musty bookshop off the beaten path, finds the unexpected—the bodies of the old proprietor and another man. They were knocked in the head by a blunder instrument and were left to die in a gassed room.
Investigation revolves around people with whom the old bookseller deals in the trade. Soon it’s revealed that the proprietor himself had a flourishing business in stolen books and obscene publications. Could these shady activities account for his murder? The mystery further deepens as the identity of the other victim is unveiled. Cecil Baird is regarded unanimously a wicked man who made a living out of other people’s frailties. He made enough enemies to have been murdered out of revenge.
The murders are tied together closely, but there was no real cause for them. (155)
This book is fun and the outcome is hard to guess. There is the whole interplay with people who come to close contact with the victim but have no alibi. They are ordinary people getting mixed up in a murder and trying to dissociate from themselves. They tell the truth and answer the questions truthfully; but they won’t go out of the way to volunteer any information in case by doing so they become involved. A quick read with surprising but plausible outcome.
177 pp. Dover Thrifty Edition. Paper. [Read|Skim|Toss] [Buy|Borrow]