William F. Deeck

ERIC HEATH – Death Takes a Dive. Hillman-Curl, hardcover, 1938. Mystery Novel of the Month, no number, digest-sized paperback, 1940.
       — Murder in the Museum. Hillman-Curl, hardcover, 1939. Mystery Novel of the Month, no number, digest-sized paperback, 1940 .

   Attending a Hollywood party at which a man drowns, Winnie Preston, assistant to criminologist Cornelius Clift, Jr., better known as Copey, suspects murder rather than accident in Death Takes a Dive. It turns out that the victim had been attacked and strangled to death at the bottom of the pool. Winnie narrates the investigation, which has no interesting features and is excessively tedious.

   On their way to get married in Murder in the Museum, Copey and Winnie stop at the home of Alexander Cameron, an Egyptology enthusiast who was one of Copey’s professors in college. Shortly after they arrive, Cameron is murdered in the museum he had built. Someone inoculated him with a rare Oriental poison.

   If the someone who killed Alexander was not Alexander’s son, a physician who is in love with Alexander’s second wife, then we have a locked-room situation. For Copey and Winnie arrive at the museum door immediately after the murder — they have heard it committed over a “Radio Nurse,” an early form of intercom — to find the door locked. When they do get into the museum, they discover Alexander’s corpse, no murderer, and no means for the murderer to have got out of the museum.

   Should you be able to accept Copey talking to his betrothed as if she were as dimwitted as the narrators S.S, Van Dine and Anthony Abbot, a Sausalito police chief so broad-minded as to say “Telepathy is almost an accepted thing nowadays,” strange tales of reincarnation, Cameron’s daughter who was scared by a dog, frequently goes about on all fours howling, and tries to kill one of the servants — didn’t provide her with milk bones, probably — and a few other miscellaneous oddities, you may enjoy the second and last novel featuring Copey and Winnie.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 11, No. 3, Summer 1989.

Note:   Murder in the Museum has been reviewed once before on this blog, the earlier time by David Vineyard, some five plus years ago. You may find his comments here.