Bodies in a Bookshop, R.T. Campbell

Ok, first things first: reading this book should have been a delight. It was an irritation. NOT because of the story, which I quite enjoyed. Not because of the writing, which is just fine considering this was first written in the nineteen forties (this is a re-release and good show to the publishers!). It was an irritation because, for reasons I absolutely cannot comprehend, there are letter combinations that are ENTIRELY MISSING FROM THIS BOOK. Why? For the love of little green apples, why?!

I first thought it might have been a review copy thing (yes, this was a review copy. Now you’ll know I mean it when I say provenance doesn’t affect my opinion). But that doesn’t makes sense, because review copies shouldn’t be a pain to read; publishers want people to enjoy the books, yes? It’s just the queerest thing I’ve seen in a book. And, it isn’t just one letter combination. It’s multiple. All of the ‘ff’s are missing: ‘suffer’ becomes ‘suer.’ All the ‘fi’s are missing, so ‘find’ becomes ‘nd’ and together with the previous combo ‘office’ becomes ‘oce.’ ‘Fl’s are missing, which in combination with the double eff turns ‘ruffled’ into ‘rued’ and let me tell you that caused some confusion the first time. I just don’t understand, and my frustration with this ‘quirk’ seriously dampened my enjoyment of the book itself.

That said: Bodies in a Bookshop is a charming little bookish murder mystery. The protagonists are hilarious in their characterization and in their interactions with each other. The reflections of the narrator, the character Max, are in turn snide and sarcastic and more than once I found myself giggling out loud at his observations or remarks. The plot itself is pretty good; I didn’t have the murderer worked out until near the end myself, and I usually get there earlier than that. The setting of wartime London was exceptionally well done, and it is evident that the author must have been very familiar with the city, which translates into the descriptive passages and the ease with which he trots the protagonists around. It is also a lovely quick read, and bookish as well so boxes ticked there.

In all, a lovely little book. A damned shame about the missing letters though, that was an irritant right til the last page.


Image credits: inset image I took myself. The feature image is from the publisher’s page for this re-release.

Disclaimer: I requested and received an e-copy of this book through Netgalley. As always, however, the provenance of a title does not affect my honest opinion of the book itself.

Categories: Mystery

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