William F. Deeck

WENZELL BROWN – The Rum and Coca-Cola Murders. Saint Mystery Library #14 [131], paperback original, 1960.

   For reasons unexplained, Prof. Peter Aswell, expert on Maine folkways, is given a grant to study “the history and background” of Calypso. When he arrives in Trinidad with his agent, they find in one of their rooms a dead man who had been masquerading as Aswell. The man had been poisoned by bitter Cassava, part of the Obeah-Trinidadian black magic-death charm.

   In between meeting such Calypso Singers as the Lord Deceiver, the Lord Agitator, and the Duke of Manchester, Aswell investigates the first and later deaths.

   An interesting introduction by Leslie Charteris on Calypso and the information in Brown’s short novel about that type of music are the only reasons for reading this book.

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

Bibliographic Notes:   Bill failed to mention at the time that the book contains a bonus short story: “Calypsonian,” by Samuel Selvon, a reprint from The Saint Detective Magazine, January 1957. As for Professor Aswell, he was the featured detective in one earlier book, Murder Seeks an Agent, a digest-sized paperback original (Green/Five Star #6, 1945) and reprinted later as Saint Mystery Library #10 [127] (1959).

   Also, if anyone is interested, there is a long article online about The Saint Mystery Library, along with a complete bibliography. This one by Wenzell Brown was the last in the series. You can check it out here.