DOROTHY GARDINER – The Trans-Atlantic Ghost. Doubleday Crime Club, hardcover, 1933.

   The detective in what was Mrs. Gardiner’s first mystery novel has a well-chosen name, I think you’ll agree, but the fact is that while Mr. Watson indeed did work for 20 years for the New York Police Department, he was for all that time a minor clerk, a statistician. (Though, of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that!)

   The locked room murder he’s called upon to solve in this book is in California, however, where he finds himself as part of an around-the-world cruise he’s about to embark on, as he heads back home to his native England for good.

   The locked room is in an English castle that’s been transported across the ocean and rebuilt in the hills of California by a wealthy millionaire; there is some talk of ghosts, and some obnoxious louts who call themselves policemen, led by the appropriately named Captain Bulnose; and lots of suspects.

   What makes this book so disappointing is difficult to describe without giving the entire solution away, and you may as well have your own chance at it. Allow me to suggest, however, that it’s the obvious one, and one that at one point Watson is solemnly assured could not be the explanation.

   Of course we shouldn’t assume that everyone knows the truth, or speaks it, but some tiny spark of imagination is to be expected as well, isn’t it?

   There are some nicely humorous scenes to be pleased with, such as when the string on Watson’s pajamas gives way at one crucial point, and to be honest, this was no real chore to read, but as a mystery, it’s (sadly) rather a silly one.

Rating: C minus.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 3, No. 5, Sept-Oct 1979. Slightly revised.

[UPDATE] 03-12-11.   A scarce book, with only a single copy of the US edition listed on ABE, and my copy has no jacket, thus no image above.

   I don’t know much about the author, but according to one website: “Dorothy Gardiner was born in Naples, Italy. She grew up in Boulder, Colorado. In 1917, she graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in History. During the Second World War she was in charge of all the files and records for the North-Atlantic Area office of the American Red Cross.”

   From the Revised Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin, a list of her mystery fiction:

      The Transatlantic Ghost (n.) Doubleday 1933 [Mr. Watson]
      A Drink for Mr. Cherry (n.) Doubleday 1934 [Mr. Watson]
      Beer for Psyche (n.) Doubleday 1946
      What Crime Is It? (n.) Doubleday 1956 [Sheriff Moss Magill]
      The Seventh Mourner (n.) Doubleday 1958 [Sheriff Moss Magill]


       Lion in Wait (n.) Doubleday 1963 [Sheriff Moss Magill]

   She also edited For Love or Money: The 1957 Anthology of the Mystery Writers of America (Doubleday Crime Club, 1957).