HARRY STEPHEN KEELER The Affair of the Bottled Deuce

HARRY STEPHEN KEELER – The Affair of the Bottled Deuce. Ramble House, 2005.

   I’ve read half-a-dozen Keelers with generally pleasing results, but this is the first Ramble House original I’ve read. This was written in 1958 but was unable to find a publisher until Fender Tucker embarked on his project to release all the Keeler in existence.

   Reading it one can see why. This is particularly slow moving — a body found shot in a locked room is reported to the police on the first page of the book, but it’s not until some 50 pages later that the police arrive, and it’s even later when they realise that the gun in the supposed suicide victim’s hand is actually made of wax.

   So it’s a locked room mystery with several of Keeler’s trademarks — the usual will, the magic tricks — but ultimately the good bits — and there were several — didn’t quite outnumber the bad bits (as has been the case in other Keelers I have read). And even the locked room answer was a little disappointing, at least to readers who know their Sherlock Holmes.

   Will I be reading more Keeler after this? Of course I will.