William F. Deeck

R. C. WOODTHORPE – Rope for a Convict. Doubleday Crime Club, hardcover, 1940. First published in the UK by Nicholson, hardcover, 1939.

   Willie Hopper, movie director, has come to Dartmoor and movie star Daisy Nightingale’s cottage to begin filming a movie based on an escape from Dartmoor Prison. At the same time, an actual prisoner has escaped from Dartmoor. Nightingale’s young son, Malcolm, aids the escape, as does another person, thought the latter’s motives are not as disinterested as Malcolm’s. Then murder occurs, and the escaped prisoner is accused of it as well as the theft of a Shakespeare First Folio signed by Ben Jonson.

   No detection here, coincidences abound and perplex, and more could have been done from the movie angle. But the characters are interesting and often amusing — the curate definitely should have been given a greater role — and Woodthorpe is a first class stylist. Pleasant reading.

— Reprinted from MYSTERY READERS JOURNAL, Vol. 7, No. 4, Winter 1991/2, “Murder on Screen.”

Bibliographic Notes:   R(alph) C(arter) Woodthorpe was the author of eight British crime novels; four of them were reprinted in the US by Doubleday. Two of the books feature a character named Nicholas Slade; Matilda Perks appears in another two. At the moment, away from Ellen Nehr’s complete compendium of the Crime Club novels, I know nothing about either of the two.