DERMOT MORRAH – The Mummy Case Mystery. Paperback reprint: Perennial Library, 1988. Hardcover editions: Harper & Brothers, US, 1933; Faber & Faber, UK, as The Mummy Case, 1933. Also published in the US under the British title: Garland, hardcover, 1976.

DERMOT MORRAH The Mummy Case Mystery

   It’s the end of term at Beaufort College, Oxford, and Professor Benchley, the Egyptologist, has acquired a mummy from his arch-rival Professor Bonoff, a Russian with whom he has been carrying on an academic feud. The feud has apparently ended with Professor Benchley conceding defeat, but he has plans to sell the mummy for twice as much as he paid for it.

   However, he turns down the offer of a wealthy American collector whom he had invited to lunch that afternoon. That night, while the Commemoration Ball is going on, a fire breaks out in Benchley’s rooms and, when it’s put out, the remains of one man are found.

   A verdict of accidental death is brought in by the coroner’s jury but two of the younger Professors Sargent (law) and Considine (the Assyriologist) have their doubts — there should have been two burnt bodies found: Benchley’s and that of the mummy. So the two begin to investigate.

   This is an entertaining light-hearted example of the Golden Age detective story, with some pleasant humorous touches thrown in. I read this when it first was issued in paperback, although I probably figured it out then as I did now because it uses a variation of a plot situation I’ve encountered in several whodunits and for which I have a rule that, if I stated it, would be giving away the solution.

Bibliographic Note:   This is the author’s only mystery novel. It is included in Victor Berch’s checklist of Harper’s Sealed Mystery Series.

   Also note that Mike Grost comments on this novel on his Classic Mystery and Detection website. Check it out here.