HENRY SLESAR – The Thing at the Door. PI Steve Tyner #1. Random House, hardcover, 1974. Pocket, paperback, 1976.

   Even though printed by Pocket Books in its Gothic series with corresponding cover to match the title, The Thing at the Door isn’t quite in that category. Private investigator Steve Tyner is on his first [and only recorded] case for the Fiduciary Bank. He does a minimum of detecting, however, all along amorously pursuing the wealthy young heroine Gail  Gunnerson whose nightmares have seemed to come to life.

   The culprit is disclosed mid-way through the book and  it is simply a matter of seeing how long it will take before he is trapped. The “thing at. the door” actually involves a clever psychological factor that the murderer puts to his own diabolic use. The suspense is nothing extraordinary or creepy, but rather well modulated. Retribution at the end is swift and highly ironic.

   Mr. Slesar has an otherwise good plot here which just does not quite come off. Perhaps it’s because the characters lack depth and fall short of being sympathetic. He won an Edgar for Best First Novel in 1959 with his The Grey Flannel Shroud.   He also wrote the novelization of the Edge of Night television series (The Seventh Mask, 1969).

   The Thing at the Door is the author’s fourth mystery novel, but unfortunately it is not a very good one.

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