William F. Deeck

CORTLAND FITZSIMMONS – The Evil Men Do. Stokes, hardcover, 1941.


   Having turned down several lucrative offers to go to Hollywood and do screen writing, mystery writer Ethel Thomas finally accepts as a ploy to help out her niece, an aspiring movie actress.

   The niece’s fiance, fighting for her honor, has apparently killed a man. It’s obvious that the “killing” is but a variation of the old badger game, but these two youngsters get themselves involved with a blackmailer who runs a gambling club. Naturally, he is soon bumped off. The niece, the fiance, the niece’s mother, and Thomas are unlikely suspects.

   Since the idea should be a winner from the start, there ought to be a law that authors writing about septuagenarian lady mystery writers who also detect produce at least a halfway decent novel. If there were such a law, Fitzsimmons would be given twenty years without the option.

— From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 11, No. 1, Winter 1989.

      The Ethel Thomas series —

The Whispering Window. Stokes, 1936.
The Moving Finger. Stokes, 1937.


Mystery at Hidden Harbor. Stokes, 1938.
The Evil Men Do. Stokes, 1941.

Editorial Comment:   In a crime fiction writing career that extended from 1930 to 1943, Cortland Fitzsimmons wrote or co-authored another thirteen novels, two of which featured Arthur Martinson as the leading character, and two with Percy Peacock. I know nothing about either of the two, but Bill Deeck’s review of the author’s book The Girl in the Cage, displays an equal lack of enthusiasm for his work:   “…reading Fitzsimmons is like watching grease congeal.”