William F. Deeck


KAY CLEAVER STRAHAN – Death Traps. Doubleday Crime Club, hardcover, 1930. Reprint hardcover: Grosset & Dunlap, no date (shown).

   There are several mysteries about the shooting of Gilbert Dexter in San Francisco. Would his brother, Bob, have shot him? Would Bob have managed only to wound him at point-blank range? Were the French windows open or locked? Why were there two revolvers in the room? Further and deeper puzzlement develops when the next-door neighbors are found dead in their locked room with no sign of foul play and no explanation of their deaths.

   Since the head of the Dexter family is a retired judge, the authorities investigate the shooting in a gingerly manner, and, so it would seem, there is not much involvement by the police in the locked-room case. Fortunately, Bezaleel Lucky, millionaire former grocer and husband of one of Judge Dexter’s daughters, takes it upon himself to investigate in amusing fashion with his proverbs, his constant interruptions, and his complaint that all anyone, but not him, wants to do is talk.

   Sometime I will have to take another look at Strahan’s Footpnnts, which I vaguely remember as being one of those dreary psychological novels in which turning pages is a chore. Maybe I missed something.

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

Editorial Comment:  According to Hubin’s Crime Fiction IV, the detective of record in Death Traps, as he was in all seven of Kay Cleaver Strahan’s mysteries, was a fellow named Lynn MacDonald, whom Bill Deeck did not mention. If anyone reading this is familiar with the book, where does MacDonald fit in, and what kind of name is Bezaleel Lucky?

      The Lynn MacDonald series —

The Desert Moon Mystery (n.) Doubleday 1928.
Footprints (n.) Doubleday 1929.
Death Traps (n.) Doubleday 1930.
The Meriwether Mystery (n.) Doubleday 1932.
October House (n.) Doubleday 1932.
The Hobgoblin Murder (n.) Bobbs 1934.
The Desert Lake Mystery (n.) Bobbs 1936.