MARTIN H. GREENBERG, Editor – Deadly Doings. Ivy, paperback original; 1st printing, 1989.

#7. HELEN NIELSEN “Woman Missing.” Novelette. First published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, May 1960. First collected in Woman Missing and Other Stories (Ace, paperback original, 1961).

   I have a confession to make. This is the first work of fiction by Helen Nielsen I have ever read. This in spite of some eighteen novels, some of which were reprinted in Black Lizard’s series of classic noir fiction in the 1980s, one story collection, dozens of stories for the digest mystery magazines of the 50s and 60s, including Manhunt, and a number of teleplays, including ones for both Perry Mason and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

   The title of “Woman Missing” tells you exactly what the story is about. The wife of a man working the night shift is picked up by a strange man late in the evening, gets into a cab with him, and disappears. Her body is found only later, after much of the investigation by the police has already taken place.

   While it’s not clear at first that this is what it is, what this story eventually becomes is a straightforward police procedural. It’s very well written, but in a strictly non-emotional, non-sensational fashion. There are clues for deductions to be made from, but a lot of what’s accomplished is done by good old-fashioned police work. A routine kind of mystery, solved by dogged persistence, nothing more — but nothing less, either.


Previously in this Martin Greenberg anthology: ERIC AMBLER “The Case of the Emerald Sky.”