William F. Deeck

TECH DAVIS – Terror at Compass Lake. Doubleday Crime Club, hardcover, 1935.


   Occasionally when I am on the fringes of a group of diehard mystery fans — which is about as close as they’ll let me get — the name Tech Davis is mentioned. Then when I am spotted, the subject is immediately changed.

   Why this happens I do not know. Oh, I know why I’m allowed only on the fringes; it’s their not wanting me to hear about Davis that baffles me. While Davis is not a good author; he isn’t an exceptionally bad one.

   His prose doesn’t elevate, indeed may be said to enervate. His detective, Aubrey Nash, is so bland that I wish he’d been given the one or two idiosyncrasies that I usually deplore in other fictional detectives whose creators can’t seem to make come alive. But he does plot well.

   In this novel, the first of three by Davis, Aubrey Nash is asked to come to the wilds of upstate New York to investigate the apparent suicide of a chauffeur — it must be suicide since everyone has a perfect alibi — and the later stabbing death of his employer in a locked room. Nash isn’t interested until he receives a telegram telling him the crime is insoluble and he shouldn’t waste his time with it.

   Recommended for locked-room fanciers, and other problem solvers.

— From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 12, No. 4, Fall 1990.

TECH DAVIS Compass Lake

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Mystery fiction by TECH DAVIS, pen name of Edgar Davis (1890-1974). Series character: Aubrey Nash in all.

      Terror at Compass Lake. Doubleday, 1935.
      Full Fare for a Corpse. Doubleday, 1937.


      Murder on Alternate Tuesdays. Doubleday, 1938.


Editorial Comment:   Just in case anyone is tempted by Bill’s last line into putting together a complete set of all three Tech Davis mysteries, there are five copies of his books currently listed on ABE. Four of them are of Compass Lake, available at $75 and up, and there’s one of Full Fare, the latter having an asking price of a fairly solid $250.

   And not a single copy of Alternate Tuesdays.

UPDATE. 01-08-12.   Thanks to Bill Pronzini, I can now show you cover images for all three Tech Davis mysteries, in jacket.