The Widening Stain

W. Bolingbroke Johnson. Penzler, $15.95 trade paper (264p) ISBN 978-1-61316-171-5
First published in 1941, this sparkling academic mystery from Johnson (the pseudonym of Cornell professor Morris Bishop) takes place at “the University” (a stand-in for Cornell), home to self-absorbed professors, anxious instructors, and quick-witted Gilda Gorham, the chief cataloguer at the University Library. When French instructor Lucie Coindreau, “the oomph-girl of the Romance Language Department,” leaves a party at the university president’s house suspiciously early, curious Gilda follows her to the library. Inside, Gilda hears a scream and a crash. Lucie is lying dead on the marble floor below a high gallery, having apparently taken an accidental fall over the gallery railing. When a professor is later strangled in a locked room filled with ancient erotica, Lucie’s colleagues have to wonder whether Lucie, too, was murdered. A master of lively word play, Johnson exposes the foibles of his characters with sly wit. Readers will regret that this funny, erudite novel was poet and scholar Bishop’s only foray into fiction. This is a most worthy addition to the American Crime Classics series. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 05/22/2020
Release date: 08/04/2020
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-1-61316-169-2
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