Death of Mr DodsleyCrime, Mystery
Series: British Library Crime Classics
Mr Richard Dodsley, owner of a fine second-hand bookshop on Charing Cross Road, has been found murdered in the cold hours of the morning. Shot in his own office, few clues remain besides three cigarette ends, two spent matches and a few books on the shelves which have been rearranged.
In an investigation spanning the second-hand bookshops of London and the Houses of Parliament (since an MP’s daughter's new crime novel Death at the Desk appears to have some bearing on the case), Ferguson’s series sleuth MacNab is at hand to assist Scotland Yard in this atmospheric and ingenious fair-play bibliomystery, first published in 1937.
I found that Death of Mr Dodsley was a bit too slow for my tastes — or at least, too slow in bringing together the strands of the plot and making it clear as to why the book opens in the Houses of Parliament! Much of the novel seems to have little to do with that, and though it’s obvious it will tie in somehow… it never quite did so properly, to be honest. The red herring is only very slightly tinged, and I never believed in it.
All in all, that made it a little frustrating, as the evidence-gathering is rather slow, and it also vacillates about which detective, precisely, it wants to follow (starting with the police and later moving on to MacNab).
It wasn’t a bad read by any measure, but not one of my favourites, despite being focused around a book written by one of the suspects, and set mostly in a bookshop, no less! But alas, that didn’t add enough charm to keep up sparkling.