William F. Deeck

ALFRED EICHLER – Alfred Eichler. Death of an Ad Man. Abelard-Schuman, hardcover, 1954; paperback reprint: Berkley #105, 1955. British edition: Hammond, hc, 1956, as A Hearse for the Boss.


   It is a rather frantic time at the Malcolm and Reynolds Advertising Agency. Reynolds has retired, and Malcolm has just had what appears to be a heart attack.

   While various officials of the agency are struggling for power in an attempt to replace Malcolm as the agency’s head, someone makes sure that Malcolm won’t be around to protest. A pair of scissors is shoved into his chest while he is in the hospital.

   Kindergarten was never like this advertising agency. Children do have some sense, but precious few employees of this agency have any. The only sensible person is Martin Ames — who appears in several of Eichler’s novels — head of the radio department, which also includes television.

   Even he is erratic. He is at one point firmly convinced that an agency employee is Malcolm’s murderer and a few moments later is brooding because he didn’t stop the murderer from killing the employee.

   Ames has inherited the agency from Malcolm, and he had an opportunity to commit both murders. For this reason, and in a hope to keep the agency from disintegrating, Ames investigates. He spots the killer by discovering a new motive for murder, or what would have been a new motive if it had had anything to do with the murder.

   He also says things like “Holy hatpin!” which I guess is typical advertising talk. And he is one of the few people who have visited a psychiatrist with a “crowded anteroom.” Does this mean a ten-minute hour?

   The novel isn’t well written and the plot isn’t that great, but the insights into advertising agencies may appeal to some.

From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 9, No. 5, Sept-Oct 1987.

Bio-Bibliographic data: According to the Revised Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin, Alfred Eichler, 1908-1995, was a advertising copywriter based (it is to be presumed) in New York City, an easy inference, since that’s where he was born.

    He was the author of nine detective novels, many of which seem to reflect the author’s own occupation in the advertising and radio business, especially the first two, Murder in the Radio Department and Death at the Mike.

    Each of these also have as their leading characters Martin Ames and Inspector Carl Knickman, the latter of whom Bill didn’t happen to mention as being the detective of record in Death of an Ad Man, as well as several other cases told to us by Eichler. See below:

EICHLER, ALFRED. 1908-1995.

      Murder in the Radio Department (n.) Gold Label 1943 [Insp. Carl Knickman; Martin Ames]
      Death at the Mike (n.) Lantern Press 1946 [Insp. Carl Knickman; Martin Ames]
      Election by Murder (n.) Lantern Press 1946 [Martin Ames]


      Death of an Ad Man (n.) Abelard-Schuman 1954 [Insp. Carl Knickman; Martin Ames]
      Death of an Artist (n.) Arcadia 1955 [Insp. Carl Knickman; Martin Ames]
      Moment for Murder (n.) Arcadia 1956 [Insp. Carl Knickman]
      Bury in Haste (n.) Arcadia 1957 [Insp. Carl Knickman]
      Pipeline to Death (n.) Hammond 1962 [Martin Ames]


      Murder Off Stage (n.) Hammond 1963.