ROGER TORREY – 42 Days for Murder. Shean Connell #1. Hillman-Curl, hardcover, 1938. Mystery Novel Of The Month, nn, paperback, date? Hillman #23, paperback, 1949. Dennis McMillan Publications, softcover, 1988.

   Shean Connell, private detective, is hired by a rich dude whose wife has left him and gone to Reno for a divorce.

   The 42 days refers to the 6 weeks required for establishing Nevada residency, to take advantage of local divorce laws.

   The thing is, Mr. Moneybags can’t figure out why his wife would leave him. They loved each other, or so he thought. She never complained about a thing. And now she won’t even talk to him. He and a buddy were physically booted out of Reno by the Chief of Police after he went after her and tried to have a conversation. All Moneybags wants is a chance to talk to his wife. He’s sure that if only he can get in the same room with her and talk it over, they can work it out.

   It may sound simple, but it turns out that Moneybag’s wife has a doppelganger in a gangster’s moll, and ole mister moneybags may be worth more dead than divorced.

   It’s a tremendously confusing story in which violence is substituted for detection. Our detective, Connell, uses a similar strategy to that of the Continental OP in Red Harvest, Race Williams, and Cleve Adams’s Rex McBride: stir the pot, get everybody at each other’s throats and hope something happens.

   Something does indeed happen, as it always tends to do, and all’s well that ends well, I guess. But the writing is just okay and in the end the story is not complex enough (cf Red Harvest) to justify the messy plotting. The messiness is completely cleared up in a couple of pages of straight explication. I despise sudden thorough confessions that come out of nowhere. It’s like somebody told Torrey that the book was due and he needed to wrap it up in a hurry.