William F. Deeck


          No Man’s Street. E. P. Dutton, hardcover, 1954. Hutchinson, UK, hardcover, 1954, as The Moonflower.

          Death to Slow Music. E. P. Dutton, hardcover, 1956. Hutchinson, UK, hardcover, 1956.

   Sir Edward Carstairs, music critic unloved by all, is found dead in his study. Since he was generally despised, why does Sonia Rubenstein, prima donna who had given scores of “farewell” concerts, hire Horatio Green, retired private detective, to discover Carstairs’s murderer?

   Or is she primarily interested in the missing recording of a new symphony? Why does Carstairs’ sister despise him? What hold did Carstairs have on the world famous conductor, Dr. Ernst Kalkbrenner?

   Assisting Superintendent George Waller, Green, who would rather be tending his garden, uses his nose, which is a keen instrument, his intelligence, and the fact that he is in Lyons when he thinks he is in Paris, to discover the murder.

   An interesting case, but Green did not particularly appeal.

   In The Moonflower Mystery (published in England as The Moonflower, and reviewed here ), Nichols’s second mystery, the reason for my dissatisfaction with his first became evident: Horatio Green was merely a cardboard character with idiosyncracies. In the second novel — with a horticultural plot — he becomes flesh, as it were.

   With the third novel, Death to Slow Music, Green continues as a real person. At Seabourne with his 19-year-old niece, he becomes involved with the murder of a woman on the Ghost Train at the amusement pier. She was to meet Julian Doyle, accompanist and orchestrator for the famous Nigel Fleet. Fleet and his entourage are in Seabourne performing in the cabaret “Personal Appearances” and rehearsing for Fleet’s operetta, “Serenade.”

   Doyle is needed for the show, so Fleet prevails upon Green to investigate and make sure Doyle isn’t arrested, which Green docs with the aid of a blind and deceased composer. Nichols gets better and better, and there are three more in the series.

— Reprinted from MYSTERY READERS JOURNAL, Vol. 6, No. 1, Spring 1990, “Musical Mysteries.”

NOTE:   Bill’s review of Murder by Request, the fifth in the series, was posted here earlier on this blog. Following that review is some biographical information about the author and a complete listing of his Horatio Green series.