Reviewed by TONY BAER:


FREDERICK NEBEL – Fifty Roads to Town. Little, Brown & Co., hardcover, 1936. Mercury Book # 33, digest paperback, date? Film: 20th Century Fox, 1937 (starring Don Ameche & Ann Sothern; director: Norman Taurog).

   Bunch of strangers get stranded in an Northwoods hotel in a blizzard. Focus is on a nebbish fire extinguisher salesman who’s gone missing. Very 30’s. The interest comes from the interplay between the various types: flapper, repressed aristocrat bent on murdering his rival, his rival, a rugged independent sort, a drunken Nordic dog sled champion, an overbearing housewife, Gilligan and Skipper running the hotel.


   Just when you think it’s screwball, it turns melodramatic on you. It’s a fairly light invention, with tight dialogue and well drawn characters drawn from central casting. All dressed and ready to be made into a film. With a bow.

   I liked it fine, but it’s not why I went looking for Nebel. It’s not hardboiled crime and only vaguely hints at his Black Mask roots. Action and dialogue is economically worded and the thing moves at a brisk pace.