R. T. CAMPBELL – Bodies in a Bookshop. Professor John Stubbs #3. John Westhouse, Ltd., UK, hardcover, 1946. Reprinted by Dover, US, trade paperback, 1984.


   R. T. Campbell is the pseudonym of Ruthven Todd, poet, scholar, art critic, and fantasy novelist (according to the back of the book). He wrote several detective novels; I have not read any of the others, but if they are of similar quality to this one, his mystery writing would have to be marked only “fair.” His amateur detective, Professor Stubbs, and botanist Max Boyle, Stubbs’s assistant, have some similarities to Dr. Priestley and his Harold, and some to Nero Wolfe and Archie.

   Max, in the course of a day’s bookhunting, finds two bodies in a gas-filled room at the back of a small bookshop. He calls in Chief Inspector Reginald Bishop, who welcomes Stubbs’ s cooperation and lets the two amateurs come along on all his interviews. This convention seems somewhat shopworn for 1946. Still, there are some lively interviews with possible suspects; some aspects of the bookseller’s business that Max had not known about are revealed, and the shady side of the book dealer’s visitor’s character is shown in all its nastiness.

   Which one of them was the intended victim? Or were both intended to die? To the book lover the unexpected revelation of some very valuable old books will be a treat, even if the book itself is not in the first, or even the second, rank of mysteries.

– Reprinted from The Poison Pen, Volume 6, Number 3 (Fall 1985).

Editorial Notes: An earlier review of this book by Doug Greene on this blog can be found here. That particular post includes a list of all seven Professor Stubbs mysteries.  My own review of Unholy Dying, the first in the series, can be found here.  My concluding sentence was this: “I’d have to call this one as being in the wheelhouse of those readers who already fans of the Golden Age of Detection. It won’t convert any others.”