A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Bill Pronzini:

JOSIAH E. GREENE – Madmen Die Alone. Wm Morrow & Co., hardcover, 1938.

JOSIAH GREENE Madmen Die Alone

   Joseph Parisi, a homicidal inmate at the Exeter Hospital insane asylum, turns up missing one night. Circumstances are such that it is unlikely he managed to escape on his own; and it appears the only person who could have freed him is brilliant research psychiatrist Dr. Hubert Sylvester.

   But then Sylvester is found on the premises, brutally stabbed to death. Captain Louis Prescott of the local police is called in to investigate, and finds himself confronted with a maze of conflicting relationships among the hospital’s employees, not to mention attitudes and behavior that make him wonder if perhaps some of the keepers aren’t just as insane as their charges.

   A second murder, of a shady Italian restaurant owner named Luigi Toscarello, intensifies the hunt for Parisi; it also implicates Parisi’s family, thereby opening up a whole new can of worms for Prescott to sift through. Did Parisi kill both Sylvester and Toscarello? Did someone else kill both of them? Or are there two murderers, one at the asylum and one outside it, each with different motives?

   Despite some first-novel flaws — viewpoint lapses, too many exclamation points — and a bunch of ethnic stereotypes, Madmen Die Alone is a solid novel of detection, with a well-depicted background, interesting insights into psychiatry circa 1938, and a neatly clued solution. Fans of fair-play deductive puzzles should enjoy it.

   Greene published one other mystery — The Laughing Loon (1939), set in the Minnesota lake country — before abandoning the genre to write mainstream novels.

   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.