William F. Deeck

S. S. VAN DINE – The Kennel Murder Case. Charles Scribner’s Sons, hardcover, 1933. Reprinted many times, including Bantam #60, paperback, 1946. Film: 1933, with William Powell as Vance.

   The circumstances of the death of Archer Coe indicate suicide. He was, after all, in a room locked on the inside, with the revolver with which he was shot still in his hand. Fortunately, Philo Vance is asked to observe the scene, and he claims it was murder — but not caused by the bullet.

   One of the clues is a badly hurt Scottish terrier found in the house. The reader learns a lot about terriers and show dogs as Vance lectures on the animals. At the end, the dog leads, in a manner of speaking, Vance to the murderer.

   In my opinion, Van Dine is undeservedly maligned. What’s wrong with a highbrow mystery containing occasional and intentional amusement and fair, albeit far-fetched, play? That’s what we have here, and I think it’s most enjoyable.

— Reprinted from MYSTERY READERS JOURNAL, Vol. 6, No. 4, Winter 1990, “Beastly Murders.”