The Porthole Murder

The Porthole Murder

Denis Herbstein


The Porthole Murder

By Denis Herbstein

Published by Hodder & Staunton


A balanced account of a quintessially English murder - murder on the high seas ..... and no body

By Paul Stickler on 14 Feb. 2014

Drawing on newspaper reports and the published transcript of the criminal trial, Herbstein outlines the fascinating case of the death of Gay Gibson with the ensuing high profile trial resulting in the conviction of James Camb. In modern day parlance, Camb may be described as a serial sex offender yet Herbstein leaves this to the reader to make their own judgement. Gibson, a fine, young English woman beyond reproach according to her family and some of those who knew her, is portrayed not only in this light but also shown to be somewhat more colourful than perhaps her family would have wished.

While the book may have been made more enlightening with greater attention to the political situation of post-war Britain and South Africa, the storyline follows the acting career of Gibson from England to South Africa and her pursuit of hedonism in the acting world. Returning to England by passenger boat in somewhat mysterious circumstances, she encounters the philandering first-class cabin steward of James Camb who, according to the prosecution, seduced and murdered her and panicking, though her body out of a cabin porthole. Those defending Camb, make a strong case for death by natural causes and that his ultimate conviction was un-sound. The reader needs to draw their own conclusions.

The books pays much attention to the trauma and severe upset that this case brought to the Gibson family and also raises many public interest issues which have resonance today. A thoroughly good book, well worth the read.

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