FREDRIC BROWN. “Murder Set to Music.” Novella. First published in The Saint Detective Magazine, January 1957, as “Murder to Music.” Reprinted in The Saint Mystery Library #3, paperback original, 1959, edited by Leslie Charteris.

   Two jazz musicians have been friends and played in the same bands since it seems forever. Not even the fact that one married the girl that both were in love with has affected that friendship. Now that they’re partners in a car dealership, and their days on the road are behind them, they only occasionally think of those days.

   Not until the leader of one of the bands comes to town with his new group is either one of them tempted to take their instruments out of their cases. Ralph, the unmarried one, tells the story from there, pretty much starting when Danny, the married one, opens the door to his apartment and is slugged in the face by a short stocky man wearing a mask.

   There is a long stretch of the story in which nothing much seems to be happening. The story is lengthy, over 50 pages long in its paperback version, but Fred Brown was such a good writer, the reader is pulled along in the flow of the tale he tells. And you just know that a Fred Brown story is going to have a Fred Brown ending. Or does it? Is the lack of a Fred Brown ending the Fred Brown ending?? I’ll never tell.