TIMOTHY FULLER – Three Thirds of a Ghost. Jupiter Jones #2. Little Brown, hardcover, 1941. Popular Library #81, paperback, [1946].

   This is the second of the Jupiter Jones adventures It is somewhat of a relief to see a more mature sleuth than in the earlier Harvard Has a Homicide to which there is a reference in this present work as well as to Jupiter’s having been “an eccentric graduate student” who “interfered with the Cambridge Police.”

   The scene this time is Boston. and Jupiter, who is now a recently appointed instructor in Fine Arts at Harvard, cooperates almost fully with the police after witnessing with some two hundred others, the shooting death of Pulitzer Prize author George Newbury during the latter’s talk at Bromfield’s Bookstore on the occasion of its 150th Anniversary.

   The book purports to be an intimate and humorous roman a clef in miniature with Newbury representing John P. Marquand, social satirist and creator of a well-known Oriental detective (cf. Newbury’s Chinese detective “Parrot” and Marquand’s Japanese Mr. Moto).  On this score, Timothy Fuller himself says in his author’s note: “Some of the  characters in this book bear a singular resemblance to persons now living, not dead… Let us say that the resemblances are too close to be “coincidental and hope they are too inaccurate to be libelous.”

   When Police Captain Hogan is  killed during a sudden basement fire at the bookstore, Jones realizes that he had already found evidence sufficient to incriminate Newbury’s killer. Jupiter’s fiancee Betty Mahon, to whom he proposes in a cab, is naturally on hand  throughout the book. The disappearance of the supposed murder weapon is cleverly manipulated as is the cat-and-mouse play between Jones and Newbury’s Oriental secretary, Lin.

   It takes a bogus seance and a full ghost in the person of Jupiter Jones to trap the killer in an interesting denouement which, with apologies to Van Dine, is very well handled. The few red herrings were quite enough to distract my attention from the real killer. Lighthearted and unpretentious fun.

– Reprinted from The Poison Pen, Volume 2, Number 5 (Sept-Oct 1979).