VERNON HINKLE – Music to Murder By. Belmont Tower, paperback original, 1978. Leisure, paperback, later printing.

VERNON HINKLE Music to Murder By

   A good friend sent me this mouldering paperback mystery, knowing of my fondness for mysteries with a classical music connection. And it begins with a discussion between two old friends of the performance of Ravel’s “Bolero” at a Boston Symphony concert they have just attended.

   I won’t pretend that this is a work for the ages, and the style is, at times, leaden, but the plot is neatly developed, concluding with a classical gathering together of all the suspects by the amateur detective who proceeds to pull the numerous threads together and reveal the murderer’s identity.

   The protagonist is a music librarian, a rather fussy bachelor who has a gift for puzzle solving and quickly succeeds in persuading the homicide detectives that he will be able to solve their case for them. This takes something of a stretch of the imagination, since it involves detective squads in both Boston and New York, and the librarian, one Martin Webb, conveniently is the first to arrive at both murder scenes, creating some question about his own involvement in the crimes.

   The characters include a somewhat comical Boston patrolman, a would-be novelist and his ex-wife and current girl friend, a YMCA desk clerk, and a gaggle of porn movie performers.

   Hinkle also published Murder After a Fashion (Leisure, 1986) and, writing as H. V. Elkin, a Western series. In an interview recorded in Contemporary Authors, Hinkle comments he regards “most fiction as mystery … in the sense that each piece … is a puzzle or a quest for unknown answers.”

   And that’s my Visit to the Dusty Archives for this session.