PAUL E. WALSH – The Murder Room. Paul Damien #1. Avon #767, paperback original, 1957.

   Paul E. Walsh appears to have written only three detective novels, beginning with KKK (Avon, 1956) and ending with Murder in Baracoa   (Avon, 1958).

   The Murder Room is a low-keyed first-person affair featuring private eye Paul Damian, a former insurance investigator now in business for himself with two other operatives. He is hired here by Mrs. Clarence Standish whose brownstone in Brooklyn Heights has witnessed the death of a hood working for racketeer Vincent Manola.

   She expressly wants him to protect her younger daughter Laura who has been keeping some shady company of late, but it’s her older daughter Iris whom Damian finds more interesting. The Standish chauffeur is found dead in short time as well. and. it all looks very much like a mob affair with the Standish clan as innocent bystanders until the locked family beach home becomes the sight for some interesting activity of its own.

   The role of the “murder room” is kept nicely hidden until the denouement even though ghosts from the past are fairly obvious all along. Damian is just a bit too intuitive and the wrap-up a bit too brusque and pat to be completely satisfying, but the author does have a pleasant style and sets an otherwise nice pace.

   Perhaps you will enjoy, as I did, the nice nostalgic glimpse of the changing face of Brooklyn and sections of Long Island in the late 50’s. I certainly wouldn’t hesitate reading the other two novels after this one.

– Reprinted from The Poison Pen, Volume 4, Number 3 (June 1981).