William F. Deeck

AARON MARC STEIN – The Case of the Absent-Minded Professor. Doubleday Crime Club, hardcover, 1943. Digest-sized paperback reprint: Mystery Novel Classic #82, no date stated (mid-1940s).


   In this, apparently their fourth, investigation, Tim Mulligan and Elsie Mae Hunt, archaeologists, are at an “appendage to a football stadium that called itself a university” to check the authenticity of pre-Columbian gold ornaments recently donated to Ihe school. The only real scholar at the university is the absent-minded Alf Chambers, professor of anthropology.

   Although alcohol presumably makes him deathly ill, he seemingly becomes drunk one evening, during which time he believes he committed a murder. If he didn’t, somebody else definitely did. Mulligan and Hunt clear things up in a rather blah novel.

From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 13, No. 3, Summer 1992.

Editorial Comment:   Bill was correct in his assertion that this was the fourth of the Tim Mulligan / Elsa Mae Hunt mysteries. There were 18 in all, the first being The Sun Is a Witness (1940) and the last Moonmilk and Murder (1955). After this long run, Stein switched to engineer-for-hire Matt Erridge as a series character, the latter appearing in 23 novels, beginning in 1958.

   Note: This quickie summary does not include the long list of books Stein wrote as George Bagby, most of them featuring Inspector Schmidt of New York City Homicide, he of the long-aching feet; and another 18 “Gibby and Mac” books he wrote as Hampton Stone. See one of Mike Nevins’ earlier columns on this blog for more details.