THE BACKWARD REVIEWER
William F. Deeck

WHITMAN CHAMBERS – Dead Men Leave No Fingerprints.

Doubleday, hardcover, 1935. Hardcover reprint: Caxton House, 1939. Paperback reprint: Detective Novel Classic #28, circa 1943.

WHITMAN CHAMBERS Dead Men Leave No Fingerprints.

   Danish film star and sexpot Hilda Haan hires private detective Stanton Lake to get her out of the clutches of a man who threatens to tell her studio about her “moral turpitude” unless she marries him. Lake says he’ll get her out of the mess if he has to kill the man to do it.

   That turns out to be unnecessary. Someone else does the job for him while preparations are being made for a seance at the residence of Rufus Raybourne, a real-estate magnate now suffering hard times. The victim is killed with a poker that has on it the fingerprints of an enemy of Raybourne’s.

   Yet this enemy died more than a year earlier in prison. Or did he? Lake plays ghoul and finds an empty grave. Two more murders take place. After each one, the same fingerprints are found.

   An unusual motive, a cunning — well, he or she would have been if the killings hadn’t continued once Lake’s identity was revealed — murderer, and an interesting character in Lake.

   The writing level is the ’30s standard: Passable.

From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 10, No. 3, Summer 1988.