Murder In The Bookshop (1936) by Carolyn Wells

Philip Balfour, an avid book collector and his librarian, Keith Ramsay, break into the premises of a book dealer they have business with one night, to hunt for a rare book they believe is in the shop. Then, according to Ramsay at least, a masked intruder knocked him out, stole the book (if it was there in the first place) and murdered Balfour.

Unfortunately, given that he is in love with Balfour’s wife/widow, Ramsay seems to have the best motive and opportunity. Luckily the bookseller knows private detective Fleming Stone, who is convinced of Ramsay’s innocence. Unfortunately, it seems that everyone else has an alibi…

Well, that was an odd read.

It starts off as an interesting setting for a murder mystery, with some interesting questions posed about the crime. And then it starts veering all over the place…

It gets bogged down while Stone (who I found fairly uninteresting) struggles to find a suspect but then picks up pace when a second murder and a subsequent kidnapping occurs. The villain meanwhile seems to be predating Scooby Doo by running around with his/her mask on and, apparently, chestnuts in his/her cheeks to disguise their voice. And then you get one of the oddest sequence I’ve possibly ever read when the missing book is located (presumably just after the villain has had an off-page lobotomy for falling for it).

You may have guessed, I didn’t really get on with this one. If you want a more generous review (although one which still highlights the problems that I had) then pop over to Cross Examining Crime where Kate read it a while ago. But I struggle to recommend much about this. The cover’s nice, I suppose…

Just The Facts, Ma’am: WHO – A Librarian/Bookseller


    • This one of the worst mysteries that I have ever read, bar none. Tedious, poorly plotted, foolish characters, dumb moves, bad beyond belief, stilted dialog, and I could go on panning it forever. I keep it on the shelf in my small shop to illustrate what a truly terrible book is like, even though it does have a nice cover. I cannot begin to tell you how just plain poor this book is. I regret wasting money on it — it was recommended as a good American mystery by a undeservedly forgotten author. In fact — based on this book — she deserved to be forgotten!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, well, I’ve a) paid for it and b) never read any Wells before, so I’ll definitely read it. I just think it’ll be funny if I end up absolutely delighted with in, since I do frequently find myself on the fringes of opinion.

        But, hey, no-one’s wrong 100% of the time…er, are they?

        Liked by 2 people

  1. I read this a while ago and found it terribly dated. It felt as if it had been written before WW1 and the romance was pretty overwrought.


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