William F. Deeck

PHILIP MacDONALD – The Crime Conductor. Doubleday Crime Club, US, hardcover, 1931. British edition: Collins Crime Club, hc, 1932.

PHILIP MacDONALD The Crime Conductor

   One of the scarccr MacDonalds is The Crime Conductor, if the time it took me to find a copy is any indication. It is also, I feel, the least of all those of his that I have read.

   The “Crime Conductor” here is not one who directs crime but to whom crime is attracted — to wit, Anthony Gethryn. Gethryn is joking with his wife’s cousin, a surgeon, about crime occurring around him, and then the surgeon is asked by the police to examine a man who had drowned in his bathtub. Despite the locked bathroom door, the surgeon is suspicious of the death and, naturally, asks Gethryn to take a look.

   With some fancy deduction, Gethryn concludes it was murder and explains the locked room in the first third of the book. What he doesn’t explain is why a rich man, not known as a miser, would have lavish private bathing facilities but neither soap nor towels available. The rest of the book is not the typical MacDonald fair play.

   Read this one for Gethryn’s letters to his wife, with their delightful self-depreciation.

– From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 13, No. 3, Summer 1992.

Editorial Comment: There are 27 copies offered for sale on Abebooks at the present time, with a reading copy available for only thirteen dollars and change. Even so, I’d have to agree that Bill was correct in terms of its relatively scarcity. There are 179 copies of Warrant for X, for example, just as a quickie comparison. The only softcover edition of The Crime Collector was of British origin; it never appeared in the US in paperback form.