William F. Deeck

HOLLY ROTH – Too Many Doctors. Random House, hardcover, 1962. Avon, paperback, no date stated.

   As the few of you who read my reviews know, I am infamous for my dubious entries in categories. But since Dr. Owings says, albeit late in the novel, that traveling by ship is a vacation before his new assignment in Hong Kong, I am placing this novel in the holiday category.

   Shortly after the M. S. Tilburg sailed from England for its various ports of call, Elizabeth Smith falls — or was she pushed? — down a flight of deck stairs, suffering various injuries, including a concussion and amnesia. Neurosurgeon Max Owings, who may be fleeing England because of an accusation that he refused to treat a little girl, is asked to consult in the case.

   Meanwhile, back in England, a psychiatrist has been murdered, the ship’s former doctor who died en route to England has been found to be full of poison, and another dead man with a stethoscope in his pocket has been fished out of the Thames. The Tilburg’s present doctor is too good looking by half and not quite competent.

   Reluctantly is how I started this novel. Amnesia is one of my least favorite subjects in mysteries. Roth, however, is a delightful stylist who also depicts interesting and amusing characters. I wasn’t well pleased with the conclusion, but it didn’t spoil my reading experience.

— Reprinted from MYSTERY READERS JOURNAL, Vol. 6, No. 2, Summer 1990, “Vacation for Murder.”

Bibliographic Note:   Bill didn’t mention this in his review, but the detective who is assigned this case is Inspector Medford, presumably of Scotland Yard. The reason he should be noted is that he appeared in one earlier novel, that being Shadow of a Lady (Simon & Schuster, 1957).