Sun 6 Jan 2013
William F. Deeck
CAROLYN WELLS – The Moss Mystery. First appeared in Four in One Mysteries, Garden City Publishing, hardcover, 1924. 119 pages. [Other novels in the same volume: Flat 2 by Edgar Wallace, The Death Bell by Edison Marshall, and The Remittance Woman by Achmed Abdullah.]
“I am a living man, and he is a Fictional Detective, but that is the only way in which I radically differ from Sherlock Holmes. We are both wonderful detectives, and I know of no other in our class.” Thus sayeth Owen Prall, who then goes on to add to the misquotation: “Elementary, really, my dear Watson.”
Readers of my reviews are aware that I am easily taken in by specious authors, which Wells to her credit, even when she may be trying, generally isn’t. As Prall is presented with the case he has desired his entire career — murder in a locked room — I was delighting in the spoof that Wells was engaged in as she made fun of her detective, whose ego is enormous. Reluctantly I was soon forced to conclude that Wells was serious in her intent, but this doesn’t detract from the pleasure of reading this short novel as a parody. If you wish to read it for other reasons, so be it, but don’t blame me if it is then far less enjoyable.