The Two Hundred Ghost by Henrietta Hamilton

‘It’s murder, that’s wot it is.’

In London during the 1950s, the Heldar family have an antiquarian bookshop at 200 Charing Cross Road.  It is an old building and is rumoured to have its own ghost.  And, after an absence, the ghost reappears and is seen by several staff.  Some of them are nervous as a consequence, but not Sally Merton.  She is much more concerned about the unwelcome advances being made by her colleague, Victor Butcher.

But when Victor Butcher is found dead at his desk, stabbed in the back, there is no shortage of potential suspects.  Butcher was not much liked by his colleagues and several them had had unpleasant confrontations with him.  And the knife that killed him belonged to a Heldar family member.

Who killed Victor Butcher, and why?

The police have a few lines of inquiry while Sally Merton and Johnny Heldar join forces in an investigation of their own.  The police are convinced that someone associated with the shop is involved: could it be one of the staff he bullied or the owner of the knife?  Or someone else?

Ms Hamilton provides plenty of motives for the reader to consider as well as potential opportunities. In the meantime, the world of antiquarian bookselling is brought to life.  There is an additional mystery as well, involving antiquarian books being stolen from other shops.

I enjoyed this novel, which was first published in 1956.  I liked the way the various strands were woven together and learned a little about antiquarian books along the way.  A very satisfying cozy mystery.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Agora Books for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes. 

Jennifer Cameron-Smith