John Thomas Ross

Created by Thomas Bunn

The copy on the dust jacket of Closet Bones (1977) mentions Sam Spade in referring to private detective JOHN THOMAS ROSS, but the resemblance is closer to Hammett’s other detective, the nameless Continental Op. Ross is paunchy, losing his hair and not getting any younger, but yet not easily waylaid by temptation, and he’s an operative for the Mackelroy Agency, out of Albany, New York.

He’s called on to find a missing playboy, patron of a New York hippie community up near Lake Champlain called the “boo-hoo,” who disappears shortly after a sudden marriage. The plot is complicated, full of murder, methadone and draft dodgers, the writing is competent and quietly unobtrusive, and all the way through there is a curious lack of intensity or involvement, as if we have read it all before.

We have.


  • “… an impressive debut”
    — Publishers Weekly
  • “The closet holds more bones than a city morgue, but Mr. Bunn, who is just beginning, will no doubt learn about too much, too soon. He’s enterprising for sure.”
    — Kirkus Reviews



  • Originally, I had listed Closet Bones as a Jack Bodine novel, another of Thomas Bunn’s private eye heroes. Thanks to Steve Lewis of Mystery*File for showing me the error of my ways.
Respectfully submitted by Steve Lewis, with a little minor additional info by Kevin Burton Smith. Portions of this review originally appeared in Vol. 2, No. 3, May 1978 of The MYSTERY FANcier. Reprinted with permission.


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