William F. Deeck

S. S. VAN DINE – The Winter Murder Case. Charles Scribner’s Sons, hardcover, 1939, with introduction and “Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories.” Reprint editions include: Otto Penzler Books, paperback, 1993.

   According to the introduction by an anonymous editor, Van Dine went through three stages with a novel — a 10,000-word synopsis of the plot, a second, longer development of the novel, and then the final, full-length version.

   Published posthumously, Winter had reached only the second stage. Thus, the footnotes, furbelows, and elaboration of character and incident one expects from Van Dine are missing here. So, too, I would contend, is anything but a rudimentary plot.

   As a Van Dine admirer, ostensibly one of the few extant, I was embarrassed for him by the publication of The Gracie Allen Murder Case. This one adds to my embarrassment. For Philo Vance completists only.

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

Editorial Comment:   Those wishing to read this book and decide for themselves may find an e-version online here.