Looking back over the scores of thrillers that have cheered my leisure in the past two decades, I cannot recall a solitary example which featured a professional librarian in the rôle either of hero or villain. Many an admirable murder has been committed in a library; if my memory serves me right, Francis Bonnamy has even located two slayings in the hallowed precincts of the Library of Congress. But every time it is the professor, the doctor, the lawyer, the priest—yes, sometimes even the ordinary policeman—who fits the pieces of the puzzle together, and brings the evildoer to justice. It is a sobering reflection that the clever people who write detective stories obviously regard the librarian as being insufficiently agile in mind or in body to cope with homicide. At the same time it is good to know that those same authors see no possible talent for the commission of crime among the ranks of librarians. For all that, it is a trifle humiliating. To be a potential Moriarty, or a Marlowe, a Father Brown, or a Dr. Syn, is something. Even the Watsons, even the Bunters have some distinction. Not so the librarian. Like the postman, the plumber's mate, or the sanitary inspector, he is in the eyes of the thriller writer a nondescript, a familiar object of blameless mediocrity.
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