William F. Deeck

  HELEN REILLY – Dead Man Control. Doubleday Crime Club, 1936. Sun Dial Press, hardcover reprit, 1937. Paperback reprints include: Macfadden, 1964; Manor, 1974.

   Breaking down a study door, locked and bolted on the inside, the police find a millionaire shot in the back of the head and his wife of three months lying on the floor unconscious. Her fingerprints are on the murder weapon, and investigation proves that no one could have left by the windows.

   Furthermore, the millionaire’s wife loved another man, hated her husband, who was cruel and vindictive, and, horror of horrors, had discovered that that very night, after a three-month honeymoon on his yacht, he was claiming his — ahem — conjugal rights.

   Anyone else would be convicted on the spot, but the wife is beautiful. By definition in most mystery stories this makes her innocent or, stated perhaps more correctly, not guilty.

   Inspector Christopher McKee is called back from a visit to London to take over the case. While there are a couple more murders, at the end McKee has things under control and the locked-room circumstance is somewhat lamely explained.

   Still, this novel is well worth reading, despite the unpleasant characters who populate it, all of whom have their own ends to further and thus complicate what ought to have been a relatively simple case.

   An odd datum: McKee, at least in this novel, has a baby alligator, probably the oddest pet of any professional detective.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 11, No. 3, Summer 1989.

Editorial Comment:   For a long essay by Mike Grost on Helen Reilly and he detective fiction, go here on the primary Mystery*File website. A complete bibliography complied by myself is included at the end.