by Dan Stumpf


EDWARD S. AARONS – The Art Studio Murders. Macfadden 50-198, paperback, 1964; Manor, paperback, 1975. Originally published by Handi-Book, #122, as Dark Memory by Edward Ronns; Avon 688, paperback, 1950, also as by Edward Ronns but under the new title.

   First let me assure everyone out there that I don’t feel the least bit suicidal. But if I ever do, I know the perfect, fool-proof method: I shall simply call the Police, tell them I know who the Killer is, but I can’t name him over the phone — I must meet a Detective and tell him in person. Meeting arranged, I can simply sit back and relax, secure in the knowledge that when the cops get here, they will find me dead, bludgeoned from behind. Or fatally stabbed. Or perhaps shot. Maybe poisoned, a la The Big Sleep, but that’s rare. In any case, I shall be well & truly Dead.

   Works all the time in fiction. With metronomic regularity. So much so that when I came across it here, I had a flashback to High School and Julius Caesar:

“How many ages hence
Shall this our lofty scene be acted over
In states unborn and accents yet unknown!”

   Well I couldn’t say off-hand, but I myself just couldn’t take any more. I closed Art Studio and picked up something else.

   Up to that point, it had been a perfectly serviceable mystery. Aspiring artist and babe-magnet Henry Dana gets pushed off a subway platform two days before his big show at a prestigious gallery. No one sees him get pushed, the police are inclined to disbelieve him, and he himself begins to have doubts, but a second attack… well you can write the rest yourself. Or read my copy, which has a rather nice cover.

   I just couldn’t get past that familiar phone call that always, invariably, repeatedly, inexorably, eternally, persistently, habitually, unceasingly, perpetually, unchangingly, endlessly, unfailingly, inalterably, everlastingly, and without exception, leads to the same end.