ED DOHERTY – The Corpse Who Wouldn’t Die. Mystery House, hardcover, 1945. Handi-Book #49, paperback, abridged, 1946.

   The protagonist in this better-than-average mystery from a lower-than-average publishing company is Dan Fallon, free-lance writer, who comes on board the S. S. Lesterloid just before it docks in New York, hoping to find someone worth interviewing for a human interest story. One such candidate is a sailor on board who was the only survivor of a ship sunk at sea. Another perhaps is a world famous writer or one of his entourage.

   Before he can talk to the sailor, Eric Raft, however, the man is found dead in his cabin, first shot then hit over the head with one of those blunt instruments you find every so often in mystery novels such as this. Even after the ship lands and everyone is allowed to disembark, Dan finds himself caught up in solving the case, even though the primary detective is Inspector Scott McBurney of Homicide, a 300 pound fellow who looks and talks a lot like Sidney Greenstreet.

   It is not clear how Fallon gets himself invited into the activities of the group surrounding the writer John Helm, but it’s good thing he does, because they constitute the entire list of suspects. Now you may be thinking that the set up so far doesn’t sound like anything out of the ordinary, and I didn’t either until the amount of alibis and other lies start to come into play. The relationships between the characters are complicated, and it seems every and every one has a reason to give an alibi for someone else. It’s either that, or to establish one for themselves.

   I love this kind of approach to a murder case that’s all tangled up like this. Another problem is the gun, which is used to commit another murder – but how did they manage to get it through a very thorough customs inspection?

   I do wish the ones responsible for the title had chosen another one. Hoping not to spoil anything for anyone but [WARNING] it has a lot to do with what happens toward the end of the book that would have been a lot more of surprise without the title the book was given.

   Otherwise, anyone looking for a decent, well-written 1940s era detective story might look around for a copy of this one. I enjoyed it.