William F. Deeck

ROBERT MARTIN – Just a Corpse at Twilight. Dodd Mead, hardcover, 1955. No paperback edition.

   In this investigation by Jim Bennett, he has been farmed out by his agency’s head to work for an unnamed state checking into industrial accidents and occupational diseases. In Beech Tree to get permission from the widow to perform an autopsy on her husband, who was collecting compensation for silicosis but died of a heart attack, Bennett encounters obstruction from all but the widow.

   The town’s doctor, who is also the county coroner, the funeral director, and the sheriff, a conniving alcoholic, are opposed to the disinterring of the late and at least lamented by the widow. These gentlemen are also all interested in the widow.

   Not one of the world’s quick thinkers, Bennett. He has to be shot at twice before he reluctantly concludes someone doesn’t care for his presence in Beech Tree. Still, he does clear it all up with the aid of Rosemary the cat.

   A character says of a fictional mystery writer’s books: “No cliches, no hard-boiled stuff, no whiskey and blondes and all the rest. He just writes about real people with real problems. Why, even without the murders, his books are interesting.”

   The last sentence may be a bit extreme; otherwise she’s pretty much summed up this novel.

— From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 12, No. 2, Spring 1990.

Editorial Comment: For a long overview of author Robert Martin’s career by Jim Felton, followed by a complete bibliography put together by myself, follow this link now.