William F. Deeck

  RUFUS KING – The Case of the Constant God. Doubleday Crime Club, hardcover, 1936. Popular Library #193, no date [1949].
    — The Case of the Dowager’s Etchings. Doubleday Crime Club, hardcover, 1944. Popular Library #362, 1951, as Never Walk Alone.

   Not only is Sigurd Repellen a nasty blackmailer in The Case of the Constant God, he is allergic to shrimp, both of which drawbacks cause a young lady to commit suicide. When Repellen presumably is accidentally killed by the young lady’s husband, the other family members who witness the death try to cover it up.

   They might have succeeded, but the blow on the head that caused Repellen’s seeming heart attack and death turns out, upon medical examination, to be a blow upon the head and a .22 bullet in the heart.

   The family’s transporting the dead man around New York doesn’t help any. This odd behavior comes to the attention of Lieutenant Valcour, who joins the group on a yacht too late to prevent another murder, though in time to capture the killer.

   Not quite fair play, but moderately amusing. And could someone tell me why King kept putting Valcour aboard yachts? For a New York City police detective, he spent a lot of time on the water.

   Feeling guilty about not helping in the war effort, Mrs. Chatterton Giles, who is the dowager in The Case of the Dowager’s Etchings and who is in her seventies, decides to rent rooms to defense-plant workers. The four rooms are taken quickly, by two men Mrs. Giles likes — well, one of them had bought her etching at an art show — one man who looks uncomfortably like Humphrey Bogart, and a young woman obviously no better than she should be.

   The night that several of the roomers move in, there is murder on the grounds of the Giles estate. What’s even worse, Mrs. Giles’s war-hero grandson appears to have been involved.

   Mrs. Giles is an interesting character, but the plot is lightweight. Not one of King’s better efforts.

— From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 13, No. 2, Spring 1991.