THE BACKWARD REVIEWER
William F. Deeck


DOUGLAS McLEISH – The Valentine Victim. Houghton Mifflin, hardcover, 1969. Popular Library, paperback reprint, no date stated [1970?].

   While Lori Weston is at the office of the Ontario Provincial Police detachment in Farnham on Valentine’s Day reporting a possible molester as well as an aborted break-in of her home, her stepdaughter Aileen, readying herself for the Valentine’s dance, is shot six times by an exceptionally brutal murderer.

   Was the murderer the threatening figure her stepdaughters had seen, or did one daughter kill the other? Or was it possibly one of the step-daughters’ fianc├ęs or a former boyfriend with monetary gain in mind? What is one to make of the astounding coincidence of the time of the murder, with Lori Weston provided a wonderful alibi by the police?

   While the Canadian setting isn’t particularly recognizable — the murder could have taken place anywhere in North America — that would be the only criticism I have of this novel. The investigation by Inspector John Rodericks, a fully realized character, is an excellent one. As both police procedural and fair-play novel, this one excels.

— Reprinted from MYSTERY READERS JOURNAL, Vol. 7, No. 3, Fall 1991, “Holiday Murders.”


Bio-Bibliographic Notes:   Dougal McLeish, the pen name of Donald James Goodspeed (1919-1990), wrote one other mystery, that being The Traitor Game (Houghton, 1968) in which the Canadian prime minister is assassinated. Inspector Rodericks apparently does not appear. Goodspeed, a lieutenant-colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces, and Senior Historian in the Canadian Defence Force’s Historical section, also wrote several books on Canadian history.