Wednesday, 5 October 2011

R.T. Campbell


I’ve been rather intrigued by the work of R.T Campbell ever since, many years ago, I first read about him in Bloody Murder, the superb history of the genre written by Julian Symons. Symons was a friend of Ruthven Todd, a Scots poet who dashed off crime novels under the Campbell name. Todd contributed, if only as a character model, to Symons’ crime debut, The Immaterial Murder Case.

As Symons said, there was even a lack of certainty about how many of the Campbell books were actually published. Todd himself didn’t seem to know. But now, at last, there is a solution to the mystery. I’m not going to reveal it, because the book which tells the story of Todd’s crime writing is well worth obtaining. Take Thee a Sharp Knife has just been published by Lomax Press in an attractively produced limited edition. I think it’s marvellous that such an obscure book should be granted a new life, in high quality format.

A couple of the Todd books were reprinted a couple of decades back, byDover. Of these, I have read Bodies in a Bookshop, which entertained me without being so memorable that I can now recall the story-line. Campbell didn’t rate his work as Todd, but I think he was being too hard on himself.

The story is annotated by Forbes Gibbs, and contains a note by Peter Main on the Campbell novels, as well as nice reminiscence piece by Todd’s son. This material does add to our stock of knowledge about a likeable writer, and I’m looking forward to reading the book from cover to cover.

5 comments:

John said...

Prof Stubbs reminds me of an earthier and heavier drinking Sir Henry Merrivale. I liked UNHOLY DYING and BODIES IN A BOOKSHOP. Coincidentally, I started Take Thee A Sharp Knife (I have a 1st edition) last month but set it aside when I had to review a few new books. Now if I can only find it in the many piles of books I have around here. It was quite a farce in the first couple of chapters I read and has an impossible crime.

Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - Oh, that does sound like a book worth reading. Thanks for calling our attention to it.

nfl cheap jerseys said...

I liked UNHOLY DYING and BODIES IN A BOOKSHOP. Coincidentally, I started Take Thee A Sharp Knife (I have a 1st edition) last month but set it aside when I had to review a few new books. Now if I can only find it in the many piles of books I have around here.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information. This is a limited edition of 300 copies, and I've just ordered mine. They are sure to go quickly.

LJH

vegetableduck said...

You'd be surprised to see how long it takes to sell 300 reprinted copies of a forgotten book by a forgotten mystery author. Though I'm sure attention from Martin on his blog will help, of course.