cover image Smallbone Deceased

Smallbone Deceased

Michael Gilbert. Poisoned Pen, $14.99 trade paper (280p) ISBN 978-1-4642-1171-3

In this ingenious reissue in the British Library Crime Classics series first published in 1950 from Gilbert (1912–2006), Henry Bohun starts work at the London law firm of Horniman, Birley and Craine at an unusually dramatic time. A month before his first day, firm founder Abel Horniman, a stickler for organization, was found dead at his desk, pen in hand. Horniman’s son, Bob, who’s catching up with correspondence, finds a letter relating to client Marcus Smallbone from another law office that was trying to contact him in connection with a trust. But when the sealed box that was supposed to contain the documents relating to that trust was opened, Smallbone’s corpse was found instead. Chief Inspector Hazlerigg, who has worked with a friend of Bohun’s, hopes that Bohun will be able to provide him with insider information—though his superior warns Hazlerigg not to be “like that mug in the detective story who confides all his best ideas to a friendly sort of character who turns out to be the murderer in Chapter Sixteen.” Gilbert expertly combines fairly planted clues and self-referential humor. Well-drawn personalities and plausible twists are additional pluses. This high-quality whodunit deserves a wide readership. (June)