William F. Deeck

  D. B. OLSEN – Cats Don’t Smile. Doubleday Doran/Crime Club, hardcover, 1945. Mystery Novel Classic #93, digest-sized paperback, no date. Reprinted in Two Complete Detective Books, January 1946 (with She Fell Among Actors, by James Warren).

   Rachel and Jennifer Murdock, whose exploits — if Jennifer can be said to engage in exploits — Olsen has chronicled before and after this novel, go to Sacramento, Calif., to house-sit for Cousin Julia, who for reasons she doesn’t explain must leave the house and does not want her roomers left alone together.

   Miss Rachel is the active one of the pair, and she embroils herself in the roomers’ affairs and those of the next-door neighbors. Before she can meddle much, though, one of the roomers is murdered.

   For those who enjoy little-old-lady detectives, this should be a pleasing mystery, particularly if active lol’s are preferred. For my part, I have always thought Jane Marple was the perfect type. Not for her the burglary at dead of night or skulking in gardens eluding who knows what.

   The motive for murder is both interesting and unusual. However, I had difficulty in accepting the murderer, for reasons which I won’t go into since it would give away the murderer’s identity. Warning: Cat lovers may be upset by one of the incidents in the novel.

   (D. B. Olsen is a pseudonym of Dolores Hitchens.)

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 12, No. 1, Winter 1990.

Bibliographic Note:   The Murdock sisters, Jennifer and Rachel, appeared in thirteen mystery novels by D. B. Olsen between 1939 and 1956, all with “Cat” somehow worked in to the titles and all published by Doubleday and their Crime Club imprint. Cats in detective stories is not a new idea.