Unholy Dying

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 12 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

First published in 1945, UNHOLY DYING is one of the several pseudonymous detective mysteries by Scottish poet Ruthven Campbell Todd staring botany professor John Stubbs, a corporate Orson Welles-size scientist who fancies himself successor to the great detectives of classical mystery.  Here a Congress of Geneticists held at University results in not just one, but multiple, unexplained deaths of attending scientists. At first Stubbs' blundering feckless nephew Andrew Blake, a journalist, is blamed and arrested. The actual denouement is both surprising and poignant.
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Unholy Dying is one of R.T. Campbell's first mysteries featuring Professor John Stubbs. Originally published in 1945, this re-formatting and re-release came out 16th Jan 2019 from Dover. It's 144 pages and this edition is available in paperback and ebook formats.

This is a classic golden age British mystery. R.T. Campbell was the pseudonym of poet and author Ruthven Todd. As a bio-engineer, I really enjoyed reading the 1940s genetics (the murder takes place at a professional conference of geneticists). The book has held up surprisingly well in my opinion. Some of the dialogue is a bit dated, but all in all, it's very well written, fast moving, well plotted and has a satisfying denouement.

It's a very fast read (I would call it a long novella or a very short novel). As in many (most?) murder mysteries of the time period, the corpse was a thoroughly unlikable jerk; no tears were shed. There is a smaller than normal pool of suspects and Stubbs has to resort to subterfuge to deliver the guilty party. All in all a nice read by a lesser known author from the golden age. While it's not up to Christie, Marsh, Carr, Tey, or Sayers, it's a completely readable and diverting mystery.

Four stars.
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This is a throw back, reminds me of when I first started reading mysteries. There are some really usual qualities, some archaic language and murky locations.

It's a shorter book, could have been a bit shorter, but an enjoyable read. A little more intellectual than the usual mysteries, but a nice diversion from the blood and guts of current serial killer books. 
Thanks for the read, NetGalley.
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I'm a fan of old mysteries and was very happy to discover a new to me author.
It's a gentle mystery, full of humour and with an interesting cast of characters.
I found the genetic part amusing, it was like watching a b&w film.
I think this is perfect for people who like cozy or classical mystery.
I look forward to reading other books in this series.
Highly recommended!
Many thanks to Dover Publications and Netgalley for this ARC
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Thank you NetGalley and Dover Publications, Inc. for the opportunity to read this book n exchange for an honest review. 

When I first saw this book I thought that it would be a murder mystery at a monastery, or church but it took place at a geneticist conference. It's a very old-fashioned style mystery. An interesting read to be able to compare the style to the books of today. It's a quick read, not a lengthy novel.
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Professor John Stubbs is the eccentric amateur investigating murder at an international conference of geneticists. He reminds me somewhat of Gervase Fen, created by Edmund Crispin around the same time.

Stubbs is a fan of locked room mysteries, particularly those of JD Carr, but the first murder here is the opposite, taking place in an open laboratory to which there was unfettered access. The regular police are not very competent and jump to hasty conclusions.

The murderer is unmasked by use of a subterfuge, Stubbs being unable to conclude the case otherwise.

This is a short book, with quite a lot of amusing dialogue which feels rather dated. I found it a bit hard-going as I felt that the author was spinning out a short story idea to novella length.

Thank you to NetGalley and Dover Publications for the digital review copy.
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