PHILIP KETCHUM – Death in the Library. Timothy Y. Crowell, hardcover, 1937. Dell #1, paperback, 1943.

   This has some historical importance, to collectors anyway, since it was the first of what came to be the Dell Mapbacks. Curiously enough, though, it doesn’t have a Map on the Back, but a blurb announcing this as the first in a series of Mysteries selected by the editors of America’s Foremost Detective Magazines. Pity, because this one could have used a map — this one could have used all the help it could get.

   Steven Barth, Denver PI, returns to his home town because he senses from a recent letter that something is troubling the man who raised him. When he gets there, he discovers (WARNING!) the latter’s body, complete with suicide note and gun-in-hand. Not long after, he concludes (WARNING!) the death was really Murder and (WARNING!) the Police suspect him of it.

   Not bad, really, aside from the plot, characterization and dialogue, but it’s hard to believe that this is the best that America’s Foremost etc. could come up with:

   Not a credible character nor a fresh twist in the whole thing. Those with an allergy to cardboard should avoid this at all costs.

— Reprinted from A Shropshire Sleuth #46, August 1990.