JONATHAN LATIMER – The Lady in the Morgue. Bill Crane #3. Doubleday Doran / Crime Club, hardcover, 1936. Pocket Books #246, paperback, 1943 [several printings]. Dell, paperback, 1957 [Great Mystery Library]. International Polygonics, paperback, 1988. Contained in Triple Detective, pulp magazine, Winter 1952 [probably abridged]. Film: Universal, 1938, with Preston Foster (Bill Crane), Patricia Ellis, Frank Jenks (Doc Williams), Tom Jackson, Bill (Gordon) Elliott. Director: Otis Garrett.

   After the staggering amount of every kind of liquor consumed by PI Bill Crane and his two associates in this book, in every combination of proportion thereof, it’s a wonder that by the time the case is over, anyone is left standing at all.

   It’s a wild, woolly, and definitely risque affair, with the unidentified nude body of a beautiful young woman being stolen from the morgue late at night right from under Crane’s watchful eye. Various factions of gangsters and one very rich family either want the body back, don’t want anyone else to have it, or simply want to know if it’s that of a wandering daughter. Crane is left right in the middle.

   There is actually some detective work going on here, in between bouts at a taxi dance hall, another mausoleum, various mobsters’ hangouts and so on, but with all the lowbrow humor (including some really nifty puns), it might be hard to notice.

   Did I care? No.

— Reprinted from Nothing Accompliced #4, November 1993.