A re-issue of a 1940's mystery written by Ruthven Todd; I have to say that in general, I did not like this book. It probably deserves 2.5 stars but the bookshop setting and plot surrounding books keeps me from doing it. This is an instance when I know I'm being too kind though, because the writing had me skimming from just about the mid-way point.
The book (and series) is hyped to be witty and humorous and in the forward Peter Main mentions that Ruthven Todd wrote these only in order to make money; he felt that they were vastly inferior to his poetry. I put these two disparate ideas together because I can only think that what is considered funny to others is what I felt was a complete lack of respect for the genre. Of the three main characters, one is a constantly fatigued Scotland Yard detective, another is a corpulent Scotsman, and the third, our narrator, a botanist and assistant to said corpulent Scotsman, who does not hide his complete disdain for both from the reader. It's a disdain attached to grudging affection and respect, and I suspect it is supposed to be read as acerbic wit, but it just sounded petulant to me.
Never thought I'd say this but: there's such a thing as too much Scottish vernacular.
The plot was ok, but too strung out and would have benefited from an editor with fascist work habits. Dover says upfront that the text is from the original published manuscript as it was printed, so fair enough to them, but that just means the original had many flaws, including a niece that becomes a sister and is then demoted back to niece in the span of 2 pages.
Dover have reissued a few others of his work, but I won't be searching them out.