LEE THAYER – Guilt Edged. Dodd Mead, hardcover, 1951.  Unicorn Mystery Book Club, hardcover, four-in-one edition. No paperback edition.

   Here’s a book that has everything – old N’Orleans atmosphere, poor but grand old Southern. families., Creole legends, faithful family retainers (“colored” servants), an inexplicable stabbing, a lovely girl — but why go on? The detective is Peter Clancy, with his English “man” Wiggar. They work along with good-natured, but not too swift Chief of Detectives Burns.

   The trouble is that Peter Clancy is not too swift either. His reason for being in New Orleans is a mysterious letter – anonymous and made up of cut-out printed words, of  course — with an enclosure, a gold certificate for $1000. For those of us who don’t remember, gold certificates are yellow on one side. “Guilt edged,” get it?

   Despite the scattering of clues wholesale in front of Clancy’s  eyes, he sleuths away on other tracks until light finally dawns. Long after it dawned on me. Sorry, folks, good detect1ng it ain’t; if you like atmosphere laid on with a trowel, it may be for you.

– Reprinted from The Poison Pen, Volume 2, Number 5 (Sept-Oct 1979).