William F. Deeck

OLIVER WELD BAYER – Paper Chase. Doubleday Crime Club, hardcover, 1943. No paperback edition. Film: MGM, 1945, as Dangerous Partners.

   According to The Crime Club, this is a “fast-paced mystery by a new writer who offers speed, humor, and one of the cleverest plot twists ever to appear in a mystery story.” One does wonder whether a fast-paced mystery could be achieved by a writer who doesn’t offer speed, but never mind.

   On the subject of humor, of which I understand little, I yield reluctantly to those who think witless people in unusual situations, particularly characters beyond their depth, provoke mirth. Finally, if there is a clever plot twist, it escaped my, by the end of the novel, numb attention. Another point is that this book was serialized in Liberty, [a magazine] not noted as I recall for its departures from the norm.

   After a plane crash, a confidence couple, man and wife, adopt Albert Mercer and his collection of four wills of which he is executor and beneficiary. When Mercer goes to Cleveland, he discovers that one of the will-makers is planning to write another in which Mercer does not figure. A statue topples on the will-maker, creating suspicion in the mind of his attorney, Jeff Piper, who is trying to get into Air Force Intelligence. Which he did, and how we won the war under that handicap is beyond my comprehension.

   Piper teams up with Elizabeth Neff, detective-story novelist, who has a low opinion of her own books. Together they bumble through an investigation of the confidence couple and— But maybe that’s the clever plot twist and I shouldn’t mention it.

— From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 13, No. 2, Spring 1991.

Bibliographic Notes: Information taken from Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin. No recurring characters.

BAYER, OLIVER WELD; pseudonym of Eleanor Rosenfeld Bayer, (1914-1981) & Leo Grossberg Bayer, (1908-2005)

      Paper Chase. Doubleday 1943
      No Little Enemy. Doubleday 1944
      An Eye for an Eye. Doubleday 1945
      Brutal Question. Doubleday 1947

   The film exists. Starring are James Craig, Signe Hasso, Edmund Gwenn and Audrey Totter. Has anyone seen it?