William F. Deeck


  LAWRENCE LARIAR – Death Paints the Picture. Phoenix Press, hardcover, 1943. Crime Novel Selection, nn [#6], digest-sized paperback, as Death Is the Host, no date [1943].

   A cartoonist himself, Lariar has as his detective Homer Bull, quite overweight and mastermind of the daily comic strip “True Stories of Crime.” Bull writes the strip while his assistant, Ham MacAndrews, does the cartooning. Ham also narrates Bull’s investigations. “‘Great jumping ginch!’ I blatted” is an example of MacAndrews’s speech which leads one to hope he draws better than he speaks.


   Because his man Shtunk was on a binge, Bull misses the invitation to weekend with Hugh Shipley, famed illustrator for the weekly magazines. It is an ill-assorted group that includes Bull’s ex-wife, a gossip columnist, and a tobacco mogul.

   If Bull had attended, he might have been able to prevent Shipley’s alleged suicide, alleged because Bull, who shows up afterwards, is convinced Shipley was murdered, despite the room having been locked with no way for any murderer to have escaped.

   Another murder made to look like suicide, though it doesn’t fool Bull, takes place before Bull figures out who and how. Probably because I have perverse tastes, I enjoyed the book.

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


       The Homer Bull series —

Death Paints the Picture. Phoenix Press, 1943.
He Died Laughing. Phoenix Press, 1943.


The Man with the Lumpy Nose. Dodd Mead, 1944.
The Girl with the Frightened Eyes. Dodd Mead, 1945.

   Lawrence Lariar has his own page on Wikipedia. Here’s the first paragraph:

    “Lawrence Lariar (December 25, 1908 – October 12, 1981) was an American novelist, cartoonist and cartoon editor, notable for his ‘Best Cartoons of the Year’ series of cartoon collections. He wrote crime novels, sometimes using the pseudonyms Michael Stark, Adam Knight and Marston la France.”

   He wrote nine mystery novels under his own name; nine as Adam Knight, including eight adventures of PI Steve Conacher and one with female PI Sugar Shannon; two paperback originals as by Michael Lawrence, both cases for PI Johnny Amsterdam; and one book as by Michael Stark.

   If he wrote the one mystery credited to Marston La France, it is news to Al Hubin. (Marston La France was a long-time professor and academic dean at Carleton University in Ottawa. The mystery he authored, Miami Murder-Go-Round, was copyrighted in his name. It features yet another PI, Rick Larkan.)