William F. Deeck


WILLIAM EDWARD HAYES – Black Chronicle. Doubleday Crime Club, hardcover, 1938.

   This, the third novel featuring private detective Arthur Halstead, begins with a remarkable coincidence. Into Halstead’s office comes a goon to employ Halstead to dig up dirt or invent some on Neil Allison. After the plug-ugly leaves, Allison himself arrives to hire Halstead to investigate two attempts on his life. It seems he is involved in, as Halstead puts it, the eternal triangle with a little reverse English on it.” Halstead declines to do anything.

   On the Eastern Shore of Maryland, however, the reverse-English part gets murdered by a cunning killer who, in the hope of disguising his crime, arranges to have the victim’s car run into by a train. Good planning, one would think, but there was no train scheduled for that time. Still, one does show up, sort of machina ex machinus, if I’ve gotten my Latin right. I will spare you the car that at one moment has snow chains on its tires and the next moment is ” roiling smoothly” down the road.

   Perhaps Halstead was delineated well in his previous investigations. Here he is a few idiosyncrasies in a semi-fair-play and rather dull novel.

— From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 13, No. 1, Winter 1991.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:   All with PI Arthur Halstead.

      The Black Doll. Doubleday, 1936.   Film: Universal, 1938
      Before the Cock Crowed. Doubleday, 1937.
      Black Chronicle. Doubleday, 1938.

   Says Al Hubin of the author in Crime Fiction IV: Born in Muncie, Indiana (1897-1965?); had numerous jobs with railroad lines, then reporter and drama critic for New York Evening Journal; editor of Railroad Magazine; later executive with Rock Island Lines.