The Book Case is one of DeMille’s stories where a charming prose blends suspense, a crime puzzle solution and a subtle sense of humor. Funny for some, his humour is not for everyone; rather it is for those who appreciate it, and understand it well. The truth is that not all have this ability. But those who do understand it, will have real fun reading this novella.
DeMille sets up an easy tone of narration from the very first pages. Detective Corey’s assignment starts with a sarcastic conversation with his superior:
Ruiz continued, “The deceased is the store owner, a Mr. Otis Parker.”
“Oh… hey, I know him. Met him a few times.”
“I bought a book.”
During the investigation detective Corey, having missed his breakfast, calls the restaurant and asks for delivery.
“Can your driver get me a ham and egg on a roll?”
“Sure. You want a Lipitor with that?”
It might surprise you that many thriller readers do not know that the eggs and ham combination has prohibitive content of cholesterol which, as medicine claims, is the cause of blood vessel blockage and heart decease. Even more people do not know that Lipitor is a widely used prescription drug, which reduces cholesterol content in the blood. Naturally, for the one who does not know these facts, there is no humor in it.
The story develops like a one-act theatrical play, in one building, where the crime perpetrators reveal their true moral values, hidden under facades of expensive outfit and good manners.
Detective Corey, using a combination of seemingly benign questions and tricks of investigative techniques made them fall into his traps and confirm the scenario of the crime, which he had developed in his mind when studying the crime scene.
As in many other DeMille crime stories, he demonstrates a good knowledge of police procedures, investigative techniques, and deep understanding of psychological and moral composition, which may push a person to commit crime. That is why the story is vivid, believable, and very entertaining. But it must not be taken seriously: it is not a purely detective story. It is more for fun and entertainment. I give it 5 stars.