JOSEPH COMMINGS “The X Street Murders.” Short story. Senator Brooks U. Banner #12. First published in Mystery Digest, March-April 1962. Reprinted in The Mammoth Book of Perfect Crimes and Impossible Mysteries, edited by Mike Ashley (Running Press, softcover, 2006). Collected in Banner Deadlines: The Impossible Files of Senator Brooks U. Banner (Crippen & Landru, hardcover/paperback, 2004). [See Comment #4.]

   Joseph Commings’ stories of his larger-than-life and impossible-crime-solving sleuth Brooks Banner in the pulps (10-Story Magazine, Ten Detective Aces, etc.) of the late 1940s before transitioning to the digest magazine of the 1950s and 60s (Mystery Digest, The Saint, Mike Shayne), but for some reason, while there were a couple dozen of them, he was never able to get one accepted for EQMM. And that’s a shame, since all of them that I’ve read have ben excellent examples of the form.

   “The X Street Murders” is no exception. It involves the shooting of a man in an inner office by a gun which is immediately found but even though it is definitely the gun that was used, it’s in a sealed envelope (both before and after) with no holes in the packaging. Impossible? Yes!

   Yes, that is, until the explanation, which is a good one. As a character, Senator Banner is a little hard to take. Commings wrote very much in the John Dickson Carr mode, and if you find Dr. Gideon Fell or Sir Henry Merrivale a little over the top, they have met their match and then some in Brooks Banner. But then again, you probably don’t love stories such as this one for the characters; it’s for the puzzle, and I don’t think I’m speaking only for myself.