William F. Deeck

HUGH HOLMAN John Macready

  HUGH HOLMAN. Slay the Murderer. M. S. Mill Co., hardcover, 1946. Signet #684, paperback, 1948.

    — Another Man’s Poison. M. S. Mill Co., hardcover, 1947; Signet #718, paperback, 1949.

   Apparently the third book in the series featuring Sheriff John Macready of Hart County, South Carolina, Slay the Murderer finds the sheriff in something of a bind. Election Day is only two days off, and a prominent citizen is discovered stabbed and poisoned in a locked room.

   The killer ought to be obvious, since he, too, is in the locked room, but Macready is considerably more than just a hick sheriff — though he wouldn’t want the voters to know that — and he finds contradictory evidence.

HUGH HOLMAN John Macready

   Still, if Macready doesn’t arrest the obvious person or doesn’t find out who did indeed do it and how, his re-election to a fairly cushy job that he usually enjoys is doubtful.

   In the later Another Man’s Poison, Macready leaves his county to complain to a politician about the appointment of an inept postmaster. Before he can talk to him, the politician drinks one of his own special cocktails and dies of poison.

   Macready is a witness, and there seems to be no way that the drink could have been poisoned by anyone. Also, it can’t be certain that the politician was the target of the poisoner, for he had taken the glass from someone else. Macready is glad it’s someone else’s problem until the murderer attacks him.

   Two excellent mysteries with an appealing lead character.

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

       The Sheriff John Macready series —

Trout in the Milk. Mill, 1945.
Up This Crooked Way. Mill, 1946.
Slay the Murderer. Mill, 1946.
Another Man’s Poison. Mill, 1947.

   Hugh Holman (1914-1981) was the author of two other mysteries: Death Like Thunder (Phoenix, 1942) and as Clarence Hunt, Small Town Corpse (Phoenix, 1951).

   Holman, however, was more than a writer of better than average detective novels, using Bill’s review as a basis for that statement. From

    “In 1946, he entered graduate school at the University of North Carolina, where he received his doctorate with a dissertation on William Gilmore Simms. He joined the UNC English department and taught there until his retirement. He served as department chair, acting dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, dean of the graduate school, provost, and special assistant to the chancellor. From 1957 to 1973, he served as chair of the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina Press. Holman was the recipient of a Simon Guggenheim Fellowship (1967), the Thomas Jefferson Award (1975), and the Oliver Max Gardner Award (1977). He was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a founding editor of the Southern Literary Journal.”