GEORGE BAGBY – The Original Carcase. Doubleday Crime Club, hardcover, 1946. Jonathan Press Mystery J71, digest-sized paperback, abridged, no date stated [1954], as A Body for the Bride.

   Time out for a lesson in the antique furniture business. First of all. the word carcase — a more elegant word for carcass — has the meaning you think it has, but it’s also the large bottom cupboard space found in antique dining-room sideboards. Of course, it’s also true that if certain partitions were removed, there’d be room enough to stuff a corpse for safe-keeping, and so it happens, to the newly-wed neighbors of George Bagby.

   That the husband’s brother is a retired gangster of no little repute, and known for a long time by Bagby’s friend Inspector Schmidt, is also worth pointing out.

   There never was a night like this in the old days, as even the old bootlegger is forced to admit, and as morning arrives, another killing occurs, and things get even goofier for a while. Schmitty is never at a loss for theories, however, and a final round-up of the suspects leads to a climactic solution scene that lasts for all of twenty-five pages.

   Except for an unexplained lapse on the part of one of the characters, which makes him an unwitting accomplice of the real killer, this is really a fine example of how the light touch can liven up the serious business of police work– as long a it’s the events that amuse rather than characters that are utterly wacky.

Rating:   B minus.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 2, No. 4, July 1978.