Bibliographies, Lists & Checklists


REVIEWED BY TONY BAER:

   

BART SPICER – Black Sheep, Run. Carney Wilde #3. Dodd Mead, hardcover, 1951. Bantam #1049, paperback, 1952.

   Carney Wilde is one of the top private eyes in Philadelphia. He just opened his brand new office that he can’t afford and a cop he knows busts in on the office-warming party and urgently needs to talk to him.

   The police superintendent committed suicide a week back, but he left a note confessing to graft and naming names. New Jersey gamblers had been paying off cops to look the other way when shuttle services shipped Philadelphians to and fro from Jersey to enjoy an evening of debauchery. The list included the name of a mutual friend, the most honorable homicide detective on the force. The cop hires Carney Wilde to clear his name.

   Wilde heads to Jersey to try to figure out the payoff structure. He ends up getting tailed by another P.I. hired by a reform group of mugwumps aiming to clean up corruption in the City of Brotherly Love. But before Wilde knows it, he’s been framed for the murder of the mugwumps’ P.I., and now the law is after him too. Now Wilde not only has to vindicate the cop, but vindicate himself whilst uncovering the deep dark twisted conspiracy behind the framing of the innocent by the grifters themselves. Who’s behind the conspiracy? And why are the mugwumps so embedded in the swamp?

   Hopefully I’m not giving too much away by saying that the story’s a bit reminiscent of One Lonely Night and The Manchurian Candidate.

   Carney Wilde is a believable, likeable, very human detective, with all the frailties and passions of an everyday guy. He’s no hero. He’s just trying his best. Which is generally good enough.

   I enjoyed the book, as I did the only other in the series I’ve tried (The Long Green). I think he deserves to be spoken of in the same breath as Ross Macdonald and Thomas Dewey and William Campbell Gault. Which is to say that, to apply Somerset Maugham’s self-denigrating quote: “in the very top rank of the second rate.”
   

      The Carney Wilde series

The Dark Light. Dodd 1949.
Blues for the Prince. Dodd 1950.
Black Sheep, Run. Dodd 1951.
The Golden Door. Dodd 1951.
The Long Green. Dodd 1952.
The Taming of Carney Wilde. Dodd 1954.
Exit, Running. Dodd 1959.

REVIEWED BY BARRY GARDNER:

   

PETER BOWEN – Wolf, No Wolf. Gabriel Du Pré #3. St. Martin’s, hardcover, 1996; paperback, 1997.

   Bowen is also the author of the three-book Yellowstone Kelly series. Du Pré is a Metís breed, a descendant of the voyageurs, who works as a cattle inspector in Montana and lives with an Indian woman.

   Trouble has come to Gabriel Du Pré’s Montana, trouble in the form of eco-terrorists who want the cattle lands taken away from the ranchers, and wolves reintroduced to the country. When two of the terrorists are shot after cutting fences and killing cattle, the FBI is called in, and a tense situation gets tenser in a hurry.

   There are more killings, and Gabriel knows that the killers are almost certainly among his friends or acquaintances. And then the worst blizzard in memory sets in over the countryside, and survival becomes even more of a problem.

   This is the second book I read within a week that has the Western cattlegrower’s/bunny-hugger’s conflict as a plot hook. It’s a complex and emotionally charged issue, and I don’t believe you can read this without giving it some serious thought.

   I like this series a lot, but not for reasons that would necessarily translate into liking by anyone else. Bowen isn’t a tight, meticulous plotter, nor are his characters always strictly believable, nor will his idiosyncratic prose be to everyone’s taste. It’s to mine, however, and I like his sometimes larger-than-life characters, and I like his depiction of the people and culture of Montana cattle country.

   I could do with a little less of his Indian mystic, but that’s my only real cavil. I can’t see anyone being neutral about these; you’ll either like them considerably, as I do, or you won’t care for them at all.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #24, March 1996.

   

      The Gabriel Du Pré series

1. Coyote Wind (1994)
2. Specimen Song (1995)
3. Wolf, No Wolf (1996)
4. Notches (1997)
5. Thunder Horse (1998)
6. Long Son (1999)
7. The Stick Game (2000)
8. Cruzatte and Maria (2001)
9. Ash Child (2002)
10. Badlands (2003)
11. The Tumbler (2004)
12. Stewball (2005)
13. Nails (2006)
14. Bitter Creek (2015)
15. Solus (2018)

   Ron Goulart died this morning, the day after his 89th birthday. As I understand it, he’d been in an assisted living facility for the last month or so. Although he’d been in poor health and we hadn’t gotten together in several years, I’m happy to say that he was a friend of mine.

   Back in the 1970s through the early 90s (I’m guessing) I used to meet him every month or so at the local comic book show, where we discovered early on that we had a lot of interests in common: mysteries, science fiction, comic books and above all, pulp magazines.

   It was, in fact, his book The Hardboiled Dicks, a collection of stories from the detective pulps, that changed my life around, and for the better. What’s more I know I’m not the only one. Many other collectors of those old magazine have told me the very same thing.

   I’ve taken the list below from Wikipedia, and it’s not complete, but it’s a huge part of what I’ll remember him by. But the funny thing is most what I remember him by right now is the day I helped him use a metal hanger to help him get into his car he’d locked himself out of.

   Goodbye, Ron. I miss you.

Non-fiction

The Hardboiled Dicks: An Anthology and Study of Pulp Detective Fiction (1967)
Assault on Childhood (1970)
Cheap Thrills: An Informal History of the Pulp Magazines (1972)
The Adventurous Decade: Comic Strips In the Thirties (Crown Publishers, 1975) ISBN 9780870002526
Comic Book Culture: An Illustrated History (1980)
The Dime Detectives (1982)
The Great Comic Book Artists (St. Martin’s Press, 1986) ISBN 978-0312345570
Focus on Jack Cole (1986)
Ron Goulart’s Great History of Comic Books: the Definitive Illustrated History from the 1890s to the 1980s (Contemporary Books, 1986) ISBN 978-0809250455
(editor) The Encyclopedia of American Comics: From 1897 to the Present (Facts on File, 1991) ISBN 978-0816018529
The Comic Book Reader’s Companion: an A-Z Guide to Everyone’s Favorite Art Form (Harper Perennial, 1993) ISBN 9780062731173
Masked Marvels and Jungle Queens: Great Comic Book Covers of the ’40s (1993)
The Funnies: 100 Years of American Comic Strips (Adams Media Corp, 1995) ISBN 9781558505391
Comic Book Encyclopedia: The Ultimate Guide to Characters, Graphic Novels, Writers, and Artists in the Comic Book Universe (Harper Collins, 2004) ISBN 978-0060538163
Good Girl Art (2006)
Good Girl Art Around the World (2008)
Alex Raymond: An Artistic Journey: Adventure, Intrigue, and Romance (2016

Non-series novels

Clockwork Pirates (1971)
Ghost Breaker (1971)
Wildsmith (1972)
The Tin Angel (1973)
The Hellhound Project (1975)
When the Waker Sleeps (1975)
The Enormous Hourglass (1976)
The Emperor of the Last Days (1977)
Nemo (1977)
Challengers of the Unknown (1977)
The Island of Dr Moreau (1977) (writing as Joseph Silva)
Capricorn One (1978)
Cowboy Heaven (1979)
Holocaust for Hire (1979) (writing as Joseph Silva)
Skyrocket Steele (1980)
The Robot in the Closet (1981)
The Tremendous Adventures of Bernie Wine (1981)
Upside Downside (1981)
The Great British Detective (1982)
Hellquad (1984)
Suicide, Inc. (1985)
A Graveyard of My Own (1985)
The Tijuana Bible (1989)
Even the Butler Was Poor (1990)
Now He Thinks He’s Dead (1992)
Murder on the Aisle (1996)

Novel series

Flash Gordon (Alex Raymond’s original story)

The Lion Men of Mongo (1974)(‘adapted by’ Con Steffanson)
The Space Circus (1974)(‘adapted by’ Con Steffanson)
The Plague of Sound (1974)(‘adapted by’ Con Steffanson)
The Time Trap of Ming XIII (1974)(‘adapted by’ Con Steffanson)
The Witch Queen of Mongo (1974)(‘adapted by’ Carson Bingham)
The War of the Cybernauts (1975)(‘adapted by’ Carson Bingham)

The Phantom (writing as Frank S Shawn)

The Golden Circle (1973)
The Hydra Monster (1973)
The Mystery of the Sea Horse (1973)
The Veiled Lady (1973)
The Swamp Rats (1974)
The Goggle-Eyed Pirates (1974)

Vampirella

Bloodstalk (1975)
On Alien Wings (1975)
Deadwalk (1976)
Blood Wedding (1976)
Deathgame (1976)
Snakegod (1976)
Vampirella (1976)

Avenger

The Man from Atlantis (1974) (as Kenneth Robeson)
Red Moon (1974) (as Kenneth Robeson)
The Purple Zombie (1974) (as Kenneth Robeson)
Dr. Time (1974) (as Kenneth Robeson)
The Nightwitch Devil (1974) (as Kenneth Robeson)
Black Chariots (1974) (as Kenneth Robeson)
The Cartoon Crimes (1974) (as Kenneth Robeson)
The Death Machine (1975) (as Kenneth Robeson)
The Blood Countess (1975) (as Kenneth Robeson)
The Glass Man (1975) (as Kenneth Robeson)
The Iron Skull (1975) (as Kenneth Robeson)
Demon Island (1975) (as Kenneth Robeson)

Barnum System

The Fire-Eater (1970)
Clockwork Pirates (1971)
Shaggy Planet (1973)
Spacehawk, Inc. (1974)
The Wicked Cyborg (1978)
Dr. Scofflaw (1979)

Barnum System – Jack Summer

Death Cell (1971)
Plunder (1972)
A Whiff of Madness (1976)
Galaxy Jane (1986)

Barnum System – Ben Jolson

The Sword Swallower (1968)
Flux (1974)

Barnum System – Star Hawks

Empire 99 (1980)
The Cyborg King (1981)

Barnum System – The Exchameleon

Daredevils, LTD. (1987)
Starpirate’s Brain (1987)
Everybody Comes to Cosmo’s (1988)

Jack Conger

A Talent for the Invisible (1973)
The Panchronicon Plot (1977)
Hello, Lemuria, Hello (1979)

Odd Jobs, Inc.

Calling Dr. Patchwork (1978)
Hail Hibbler (1980)
Big Bang (1982)
Brainz, Inc. (1985)

Fragmented America

After Things Fell Apart (1970)
Gadget Man (1971)
Hawkshaw (1972)
When the Waker Sleeps (1975)
Crackpot (1977)
Brinkman (1981)

Gypsy

Quest of the Gypsy (1976)
Eye of the Vulture (1977)

Marvel Novel Series (as Joseph Silva; with Len Wein and Marv Wolfman)

Incredible Hulk: Stalker from the Stars (1977)
Captain America: Holocaust for Hire (1979)

Harry Challenge

The Prisoner of Blackwood Castle (1984)
The Curse of the Obelisk (1987)

Groucho Marx

Groucho Marx, Master Detective (1998)
Groucho Marx, Private Eye (1999)
Elementary, My Dear Groucho (1999)
Groucho Marx and the Broadway Murders (2001)
Groucho Marx, Secret Agent (2002)
Groucho Marx, King of the Jungle (2005)

Short fiction

Collections

Broke Down Engine: And Other Troubles with Machines (1971)
The Chameleon Corps: And Other Shape Changers (1972)
What’s Become of Screwloose?: And Other Inquiries (1972)
Odd Job 101: And Other Future Crimes And Intrigues (1974)
Nutzenbolts: And More Troubles with Machines (1975)
Skyrocket Steele Conquers the Universe: And Other Media Tales (1990)
Adam and Eve On a Raft: Mystery Stories (Crippen & Landru, 2001)[11]

Stories

“Ella Speed”, Fantastic, April 1960
“Subject to Change” Galaxy Science Fiction, October 1960
Harry Challenge Series
The Secret of the Black Chateau – Espionage Magazine, February 1985
Monster of the Maze – Espionage Magazine, February 1986
The Phantom Highwayman – The Ultimate Halloween, edited by Marvin Kaye (2001)
The Woman in the Mist – The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, December, 2002
The Incredible Steam Man – The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May, 2003
The Secret of the Scarab – The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, April, 2005
The Problem of the Missing Werewolf – H. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror #4, (Spring / Summer 2007)
The Mystery of the Missing Automaton – Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine #1, (Winter 2008)
The Mystery of the Flying Man – Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine #2, (Spring 2009)
The Secret of the City of Gold – The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, January / February 2012
The Somerset Wonder –

REVIEWED BY BARRY GARDNER:

   

SUSAN HOLTZER – Curly Smoke. Anneke Haagen #2. St. Martin’s, hardcover, 1995; paperback, 1996.

   I thought Susan Holtzer’s first book. Something to Kill For, was surprisingly good. I say “surprisingly” because most first novel’s aren’t, and because it was a good bit cozier in type than I usually read.

   Anneke Haagen is moving into a rental cottage in Ann Arbor after a fire destroyed her home and all her belongings. The cottage is in .a small residential grouping located in the middle of commercial territory, and it’s in immediate danger of being demolished to make way for another development. The small group living there — which includes the prospective developer — are very much at odds over it all, and Anneke wonders what kind of people she’s landed among. Then on the night of a heavy snow a man is killed, and she knows — murderous.

   [Holtzer] still hasn’t written the kind of book I usually like, and she still does a pretty damned good job of it. She has an easy prose style, and a very deft hand at characterization. I like [Anneke Haagen}, her computer consultant sleuth, and her ex-pro football player cop lover (yes, one of those; I told you I didn’t usually like this kind), and with an exception or two the cast of suspects is well done also.

   The plot is fairly mundane and seemed the slightest bit contrived to me. I guess that very readable prose and very likable characters overcome a multitude of sins (not that there were that many), and I really liked the fact that Holtzer didn’t have her heroine charge into unnecessary danger and end the story with a burst of needless violence.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #22, November 1995

   
      The Anneke Haagen series —

1. Something to Kill for (1994)
2. Curly Smoke (1995)
3. Bleeding Maize and Blue (1996)
4. Black Diamond (1997)
5. The Silly Season (1999)
6. The Wedding Game (2000)
7. Better Than Sex (2001)

REVIEWED BY BARRY GARDNER:

   

TERI HOLBROOK – A Far and Deadly Cry. Gale Grayson #1. Bantam, paperback original, 1995.

   This is a first novel by a lady who is a former journalist. Interesting — the publicity material refers to her several times as Teri Peitso.  She is an American, a Southerner.

   Gale Grayson, an American expatriate once married to an Englishman, and her 3-year old daughter Katie Pru live in a picturesque Hampshire village where now all seems well. It didn’t three years ago, when Gale’s husband was cornered in the local church by police seeking to arrest him for terrorism, and rather than be arrested blew his brains out.

   All will not be well again, either, as Gale’s baby-sitter, a young local woman, is found murdered. The policeman who led the charge that resulted in the church death is dispatched from Scotland Yard to investigate, and all the half-healed wounds are opened again.

   This was recommended to me by someone whose tastes I didn’t know that well, and it looked a bit thick (nearly 400 pages), but it was a village mystery, so I tried it-and it turned out pretty well. Quite well, actually. The Chief Inspector and his lady Sergeant were believable and likable characters, and the numerous villagers were generally well-drawn also. The viewpoints shifted frequently (with that of the police predominant), and the story occasionally slowed down a bit; not surprising in a book of this length.

   But considering how little actually happened, action-wise, it held up really well. It could have been 50 pages shorter, but as is it’s still one of the better village mysteries I’ve read this year.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #22, November 1995

      The Gale Grayson series

1. A Far and Deadly Cry (1995)
2. The Grass Widow (1996)
3. Sad Water (1998)
4. The Mother Tongue (2001)

Bibliographic Update: The author’s full name is now known to be Teri Peitso-Holbrook.

DAVID PETERS – Mind-Force Warrior. Psi-Man #1. Charter/Diamond, paperback original; 1st printing, October 1990. Ace, paperback, 2000, under the author’s real name, Peter David.

   Actually, [as far mystery fiction goes], this is a ringer, and maybe I shouldn’t be reviewing it here. You might find this book in the “action-adventure” section of your favorite chain bookstore. If that fails, you might want to check through the science fiction section before you find it, if you find it at all.

   Then again, the series that this is intended to be the first of might actually take off, like the endless series of Mack Bolan adventures or the Destroyer books that, now that my friend Will Murray is writing them, seem to be going as strong as ever.

   To get down to particulars, if you don’t expect a literary masterpiece, and are either a pulp or comic book fan, there is a better than even chance you even enjoy this. The year is 2021, a former high school teacher named Chuck Simon is the hero, and his trouble begin when the authorities learn that he has psychic powers that can kill. Telekinesis, mental telepathy, maybe even more.

   The problem is that Chuck is a Quaker, and he refuses the opportunity to become the government’s number one assassin, Things have downhill in the years from then to now. Constant air pollution, suspension of the Bill of Rights, a cashless society, cities infested with constant violence. (I think we can blame it on former President Quayle, whose statue is seen on page 104.)

   Not quite as bloody violent or militaristic as most of the men’s adventure series have become lately, this a book that can be read in a very short time. Since David Peters is in reality comic book writer Peter David — the Amazing Spider-Man, among other credits — you should not be surprised at the vivid, picturesque style of writing. You should also not be surprised at either the shallow characterization or the creaky turns of plot. Let me know: if I ever read another, do you want to hear about it?

– Slightly revised from Mystery*File 26, December 1990.

   
      The Psi-Man series —

1. Mind-Force Warrior (1990)
2. Deathscape (1991)
3. Main Street D.O.A. (1991)
4. The Chaos Kid (1991)
5. Stalker (1991)
6. Haven (1992)

REVIEWED BY BARRY GARDNER:

   

STEPHEN SOLOMITA – Damaged Goods. Stanley Moodrow #6. Scribner, hardcover, 1996.

   Solomita writes New York City crime novels that are as down and dirty as you’re likely to find. His protagonist, Stanley Moodrow, was a Big Apple cop for the first few books, but is now a private eye of sorts. At nearly 60 he’s still a pretty bad dude, too.

   Jilly Sappone was one of the wiseguys who was a little too much of a mad dog for them, even, and they allowed him to be sent to prison. His wife testified against him, and he hasn’t forgiven them or her. Now he’s been paroled after 14 long ones, still crazy after all these years, and he starts off by putting his wife in the hospital with a beating and then kidnapping her child by another man.

   A woman’s organization comes to Moodrow for help in finding the child before Sappone kills her, and soon he’s tracking through his old East Side haunts in hot pursuit. Jilly’s just starting, though, and the dying’s about to begin.

   I keep reading these because I like Stanley Moodrow. He’s violent and profane — which is a pretty good description of the books — but still one of the good guys. Solomita does really good over-the-top psychos and hoods, and peoples his stories with characters that you wouldn’t want to know but are fun to read about These aren’t for the delicate of sensibilities or the faint of heart, but I like ’em. Sometimes, anyway.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #22, November 1995

   

      The Stanley Moodrow series

1. A Twist of the Knife (1988)
2. Force of Nature (1989)
3. Forced Entry (1990)
4. Bad to the Bone (1991)
5. A Piece of the Action (1992)
6. Damaged Goods (1996)

REVIEWED BY BARRY GARDNER:

   
GREGORY BEAN – No Comfort in Victory. Harry Starbranch #1. St. Martin’s, hardcover, 1995; paperback, 1996.

   Well, if one of your old standbys lets you down [referring to Sue Grafton’s “L” Is for Lawless, reviewed here],  why not try a new character and a first novel? Bean was born and raised in Wyoming, currenty lives in New Jersey, and has been a newspaper reporter and editor for the last fifteen years. Excelsior …

   Harry Starbranch is an ex-Denver cop, police chief of a small town in Wyoming, acting as County Sheriff out of Laramie and running for the office. A brutal rape and murder at a nearby ranch with the raper murdered there also sets off a chain of events that involves cattle rustling, vigilantism, and a number of other bloody deaths.

   Well, this wasn’t bad. It was a little slow in spots, and I think the problem may have been that at 350 pages it was about 75 too long. Bean has a nice, easy prose style, and is good at both straight narrative and at describing the Wyoming countryside. His characters were well done, too, though a couple seemed a bit more unlikable than necessary.

   Starbranch himself has potential, I think, and it will be interesting to see what Bean does with him. This isn’t the kind of maiden voyage that calls for predictions of stardom, but assuming that he improves as he goes along, I think Bean will do well.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #21, August-September 1995

   

      The Harry Starbranch series

1. No Comfort in Victory (1995)
2. Long Shadows in Victory (1996)
3. A Death in Victory (1997)
4. Grave Victory (1998)

   
NOTE: I first read this book in 2006, and this review was first posted in June 2009. I’ve just read the book again, but instead of writing a new review, I’ve decided to re-post this old one.
   

DAVID DODGE – Shear the Black Sheep.   Popular Library 202, paperback reprint; no date stated, but circa 1949. Hardcover edition: The Macmillan Co., 1942. Magazine appearance: Cosmopolitan, July 1942.

   After I finished reading this, the second murder mystery adventure of accountant detective Jim “Whit” Whitney, I went researching as I usually do, and it didn’t come as any surprise to learn (from a website devoted to David Dodge) that Dodge was also a CPA by profession, and that he started writing mystery fiction only on a dare from his wife.

   Although Dodge went on to another series (one with private eye Al Colby) and after that several standalones, there were only four books in the Whit Whitney series, to wit:

Death and Taxes. Macmilllan, hc, 1941. Popular Library 168, pb, 1949.

DAVID DODGE

   
Shear the Black Sheep. Macmillan, hc, 1942. Popular Library 202, pb, 1949.

Bullets for the Bridegroom. Macmillan, hc, 1944. Popular Library 252, pb, 1950.

DAVID DODGE

   
It Ain’t Hay. Simon & Schuster, hc, 1946. Dell 270, pb, mapback edition, 1949.

DAVID DODGE

   
   You can find much more detailed entries for each of these books at the David Dodge website, which includes a complete bibliography of all of his other books, both fiction and non-fiction. Not to mention his plays, his magazine stories, the articles he wrote and all of the radio, TV and movie adaptations of his work, the most well-known of which is To Catch a Thief, the Cary Grant and Grace Kelly film from 1955. Comprehensive is an understatement, and it’s definitely worth looking into, just to see a bibliography done right.

   As for Whit Whitney, his home base is San Francisco, but in Shear the Black Sheep he is talked into taking a case in Los Angeles over the New Year’s Eve holiday weekend. Against his better judgment, he agrees to check into the activities of a client’s son, who seems to be spending too much of his father’s money in the business they’re in. They’re a wool brokerage firm — hence the title. The son has also left his wife and new-born baby. Is there another woman?

DAVID DODGE

   Assisting Whitney — or making her way down to LA on her own to spend the holiday with him, or as much of it as there is left after Whit’s investigative duties are over– is Kitty MacLeod, “the best-looking girl in San Francisco, and pretty clever as well,” as she’s described on page 12.

   I’ve not read the first book in the series, and make no doubt about it, I will, but in that book (according the short recap on just about the same page) Whit’s former partner was murdered and at the time, Kitty was his wife.

   It’s now six months later, and Whit and Kitty have become very close. Whit is beginning to worry that some of his colleagues are starting to talk. There had even been some talk at the time that Whit had had something to do with Kitty’s ex’s departure from life, and getting out of the jam at the time seems to be the gist of the story in Death and Taxes.

   But that was then, and this is now. There is indeed a woman involved, as suspected — getting back to the case that Whit was hired to do — and the woman leads to a hotel room, and in the hotel room are … gamblers. A crooked card game, and the black sheep is getting sheared.

   It is all sort of a light-hearted tale, in a way, but then a murder occurs, and a screwy case gets even screwier — in a hard-boiled kind of fashion. Let me quote from page 160. Whit is talking to his client, who speaks first:

    “I don’t think it’s wise to interfere with the police, Whitney.”

   “I won’t interfere with them. I’d cooperate with them except that they’ve told me to keep out of it. I want you to know how I feel, Mr. Clayton. You hired me to find out what Bob was doing with your money, and to stop it. I found out what was going on, but I thought the best way to stop it was to let these crooks get out on a limb, and then saw it off behind them. I thought I could protect your money and show Bob what was happening at the same time. I guessed wrong. I don’t know who killed […] or why he was killed, and I don’t think I’m responsible for his death, but I’m in a bad spot and I’d like to bail out of it by myself — for my own satisfaction. The police needn’t know what I’m doing. I don’t have to tell you that I don’t want to be paid for it, but if you haven’t any objection, I’ll try to find out who killed […] and get your money back.”

   
DAVID DODGE

   Here are a few lines from page 170, at which point things are not going so well:

    He got off the bed and prowled thoughtfully around the room in his stocking feet, still holding the beer glass. What would Sherlock Holmes do with a case like this? Probably give himself a needleful in the arm — Whit drained his beer glass — and deduce the hell out of the case.

   Whit tried deduction.

   
   Those were the days when mystery thrillers were also detective novels. After a long paragraph in which Whit tries out his best logic on the tangled threads of the plot, and who was where and when and why:

    It was a pretty wormy syllogism. As a deducer Whit knew he was a lemon when it came to logic, and he was an extra-sour lemon because he didn’t know enough about Bob Clayton to figure out what he might do in a given set of circumstances. Such as having a pair of football tickets to dispose of, for example. Ruth Martin might have known where they went, but didn’t, ditto Mrs. Clayton, ditto John Clayton. Jack Morgan was the next one to try.

   
   What’s interesting is that Kitty has more to do with solving the case than Whit does. Things happen rather quickly at the end, and if all of the loose ends are (or are not) all tied up, no one other than I seems to think it matters, as long as the killer is caught — who was not someone I suspected, or did I? I probably suspected everyone at one point or another.

   I also wonder if what happens on the last page has anything to do with the title of Whit Whitney’s next adventure in crime-solving. Read it, I must. And I will.

— March 2006.

   
[UPDATE #1] 06-24-09.   That’s a promise to myself that I haven’t kept yet, alas, and re-reading this review (and looking at those paperback covers) gives me all the resolve I need to follow through. You can count on that and take it to the bank. Non-negotiable.

[UPDATE #2] 06-29-21. Looks like I can’t keep promises very well, even those I make to myself. This is still the only book in the series I’ve read. I have just given myself a good talking to.

REVIEWED BY DOUG GREENE:

   
PAUL McGUIRE – Murder by the Law. Supt. Fillinger #2. Skeffington, UK, hardcover, 1932. No US edition.

TECH DAVIS

   Paul McGuire is known almost exclusively for his classic, A Funeral in Eden, taking place on an imaginary island. Many of his other novels, set in more prosaic locales, deserve better than the almost complete neglect which has been their fate.

   A case in point is Murder by the Law. The crime – -murder of a thoroughly detestable author – is standard, but the book is enlivened by the setting, the character of the detective, and McGuire’s sardonic writing style, The events take place at a meeting of The New Health and Eugenist Conference, and McGuire so thoroughly punctures the movement that even R. Austin Freeman, had he read the book, might have had second thoughts about Eugenics.

   The narrator, Richard Tibbetts, wonders whether a convinced Eugenist might have killed Harold Ambrose simply because the world would be a better place without him. There are, of course, additional suspects, as Ambrose was writing a novel which would embarrass every woman with whom be had an affair.

   The case is competently handled by Superintendent Fillinger, McGuire’s series detective who also appeared in at least two other books, Daylight Murder and The Tower Mystery (which Tibbetts calls “an odd, queer volume”). Fillinger, at more than 400 pounds, may put even Dr. Fell and Nero Wolfe almost literally in the shade. But he is not so eccentric as those worthies. The investigation is straightforward. And it is not until the final four lines that the murderer is revealed.

– Reprinted from The Poison Pen, Volume 6, Number 3 (Fall 1985). Permission granted by Doug Greene.

   
Bibliographic Update: As it so happens, there are now known to be seven recorded adventures in Fillinger’s case file, to wit:

Three Dead Men. Skeffington 1931.
Murder by the Law. Skeffington 1932.
The Tower Mystery. Skeffington 1932.
Death Fugue. Skeffington 1933.
There Sits Death. Skeffington 1933.
Daylight Murder. Skeffington 1934.
Murder in Haste. Skeffington 1934.

   
   As for Australian-born Paul McGuire (1903-1978), he has sixteen works of mystery and detection listed in Hubin, all between 1931-1940, including the seven above. Five of his novels have been published in the US, but as noted above, not this one.

   And, not surprisingly, while Al Hubin reviewed this one here earlier on this blog, there is not a single copy to be found offered for sale. But also by Paul McGuire and  previously reviewed here is Murder in Bostall (US: The Black Rose Murder), this time by Bill Deeck.

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