LEE WILSON – This Deadly Dark. Dodd Mead, hardcover, 1946. Handi-Books #78, paperback, 1948.

   I picked this one up at a used book sale because its tattered dust cover heralded it as the winner of the $1,000 Red Badge Prize Mystery. Of the dozen previous winners listed inside, however, only two were by familiar names: Hugh Pentecost and Christianna Brand, and only her Heads You Lose was a familiar title.

   Matt Rogers, having just returned from a three year stint as a soldier and war correspondent in the Pacific and Japan, returns to bis Crime Beat for the San Francisco Globe. Receiving an anonymous tip on a recent crime of violence, Rogers is lured into an alley near the scene of the crime, where he’s assaulted and viciously blinded by person(s) unknown. Wallowing in self-pity and trying to work up the nerve to kill himself, he’s goaded into investigating the crime once more by R. B. (you don’t learn what the initials stand for until the last few paragraphs) Clancy, a female photographer for People (!) magazine.

   Though Wilson is no prose stylist, he (?) offers some pretty decent dialogue, and, more importantly, brings his characters to life. Though I spotted the Vital Clue (but not the killer) well before Rogers did, and saw the hate-turning-to-love relationship between Rogers and Clancy marching down Main Street, I found this all-in-all to be a pretty solid effort.

— Reprinted from A Shropshire Sleuth #66, July 1994.

Editorial Update: Lee Wilson was the pseudonym of Laura Elizabeth Lemmon, (1917-2003). This was her only work of crime fiction.