GEORGE BAGBY Country and Fatal

GEORGE BAGBY – Country and Fatal. Doubleday Crime Club, hardcover, 1980.

   Need further proof that riding the Manhattan subway system can be dangerous to your health? On page one of Bagby’s latest mystery-adventure, you’ll find him being pushed off the Times Square station platform smack into the path of an oncoming train.

   A series of such attacks has surprisingly nothing to do with Bagby’s friendship with Inspector Schmidt of Homicide, and the many cases they’ve worked on together. Rather it has everything to do with an ex-con country singer named Shad McGee (almost married to the phenomenally shelf-bosomed Lucinda Belle), who wants Bagby to give him a hand with his memoirs.

   Names and any resemblances etc. etc. entirely coincidental. Not your usual background for a detective murder mystery, but it’s fun, and what’s more, the clues are fair. In fact, there’s one in particular that should have been obvious, and I missed it. I really don’t know what I was thinking of.

Rating: B minus

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier,
       Vol. 4, No. 4, July-August 1980 (very slightly revised).

UPDATE [08-14-13].   George Bagby, pen name of Aaron Marc Stein, (1906-1985) was an extremely prolific mystery author who also wrote as Hampton Stone. I think I’ll repeat my update of my review of another of Bagby’s works of detective fiction, I Could Have Died, which you’ll find here:

    “I don’t believe that George Bagby — in real life Aaron Marc Stein, under which name he wrote an equally long list of other detective novels — got nearly the critical attention that I always thought he should have, and he’s definitely forgotten by all but a few devoted aficionados now.

    “Perhaps he was too prolific, and maybe the endings didn’t match the cleverness of other writers’ mysteries (nor perhaps the openings of his own books), but I always admired the way he had for descriptive passages, making the most prosaic actions — such as taking the cap off a toothpaste tube or hunting for a set of lost keys — seem interesting.

    “George Bagby, by the way, if the review wasn’t quite clear on this, was both the pen name and the character in the Bagby novels who tagged along with Inspector Schmidt and chronicled his cases for him.”

    I don’t remember who I was referring to in the first sentence of the third paragraph. It was 33 years ago when I wrote it, and while you may think everything you say or do will stay with you forever, it doesn’t. Thank goodness.