A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Bill Crider


OCTAVUS ROY COHEN – Don’t Ever Love Me. Macmillan, hardcover, 1946. Popular Library #332, paperback, 1951.

   Octavus Roy Cohen’s mysteries are slick and entertaining, smoothly written in a style that no doubt appealed to the readers of the Saturday Evening Post and other publications where many of his stories. appeared. Don’t Ever Love Me is a good example of his novel-length work, a light romantic mystery featuring a fairly liberated heroine, at least by the standards of 1946.

   Lynn Sheridan, a successful copywriter for a New York advertising firm, is the victim of what seems to be a series of bizarre practical jokes: Someone calls the police to report her murder: someone calls an ambulance service to report that she has been badly hurt; and her escort to the opera is killed by a bullet that passes so close to her that she can hear it buzz by. Naturally all this puts quite a strain on Lynn and her fiancé, Alan Gordon.

   To say much more about the plot would be unfair, but it involves two more murders and a goodly number of suspects. Cohen manages some adroit misdirection before Gordon, to the astonishment of the homicide detective on the case, manages to figure out just exactly what has been going on. And of course, it’s fun to consider the detective’s final words on the case in light of today’s methods of law enforcement: “The confession is what counts – not how you get it.”

   Paperback collectors will find the cover of the 1951 Popular Library edition of Don’t Ever Love Me irresistible, even though the beautiful blonde with the dark eyebrows and the automatic pistol has nothing at all to do with the story.

   Jim Hanvey, Detective ( 1923) is a collection of short stories that demonstrates Cohen’s ability in that form. And Cohen came up with the title Scrambled Yeggs (1934) years before Richard S. Prather.

   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.