Thursday, June 30, 2016

"A Sigh—Then a Small, Subdued Noise of a Little Body Crumpling to the Floor"

"Murder with Flowers."
By Patrick Quentin (Richard Webb, 1901-66, and Hugh Wheeler, 1912-87).
First appearance: The American Magazine, December 1941.
Expanded into a novel, Puzzle for Puppets (1944).
Collected in The Puzzles of Peter Duluth (Crippen & Landru, 2016) (available HERE).
Novelette (58 pages in the C & L edition).
"The perfect theoretical murder, no evidence, no clues . . ."
In "Murder with Flowers," Peter and Iris learn that a rose by any other name would smell of murder—two of them, in fact, with a third homicide in the offing, the victims being drenched in blood-spattered flowers according to some sick psychotic revenge scheme. Peter and Iris, as usual, manage to get themselves inculpated in the killings and have to play hide-and-seek with the police while frantically trying to track down the guilty party. Although it's certainly no day at the beach for our agile terpsichoreans (they do rumba extraordinarily well, these two), their perilous situation, against all expectations, does turn into a day at the circus.

Comments: It may not be as good as "Death Rides the Ski-Tow" (see HERE), but the plot holds enough interest and is more than adequately sustained by rapid pacing and amusingly eccentric characters.
Resources:
- Only Detect has a review of Puzzle for Puppets HERE.
- So far there has been only one attempt to put Peter and Iris up on the big screen, an adaptation of Puzzle for Puppets, but to judge from some reviews it was a bad idea (see HERE and HERE).

The bottom line: "One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I'll never know."
Groucho

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

"Dismount, and Deliver Me That Bag Immediately, Else I Will Make a Riddle of Your Brainless Skull in a Trice"

"The Robber Outwitted."
By Anonymous.
First appearance: Hogg’s Instructor, Volume 6 (1851), as "The Robber’s Skaith."
Reprinted in Harper's New Monthly Magazine, March 1851.
Short short short story (3 pages).
Online HERE.
"Daring men of this description were found in every part of the kingdom, frequenting the dark woods, the thick hedges, and the ruinous buildings by the wayside; and, what is remarkable, these desperadoes were conventionally held in high repute, and were deemed heroes."
When a riever meets a riever comin' through the Clyde . . .
WILLIE BAILIE was a household name about a hundred years ago, in the upper parts of Clydesdale. Men, women, and children had heard of Willie, and the greater proportion had seen him. Few, in his time, could excel Willie in dexterity in his profession, which consisted of abstracting money from people's pockets, and in other predatory feats. He frequented the fairs all round the district, and no man's purse was safe if Willie happened to be in the market.
But then one day . . .
The high estimation in which he was held as an adept in his profession, induced a Scottish nobleman to lay a high bet, with an Englishman of some rank, that Willie would actually rob and fairly despoil a certain noted riever on the southern side of the border, who was considered one of the most daring and dexterous that frequented the highways in those dubious times, and one whose exploits the gentleman was in the habit of extolling. The Scottish nobleman conferred with Willie, and informed him of the project—a circumstance which mightily pleased our hero, and into which he entered with all enthusiasm. The interest which Willie took in the matter was to the nobleman a guarantee of ultimate success; and, having given all the marks of the robber, and directed him to the particular place on the road where he was sure to meet with him, he left it to Willie himself to arrange the subsequent mode of procedure.
. . . and arrange it he does:
He got an old, frail-looking pony, partially lame, and with long, shaggy hair. He filled a bag of considerable dimensions with a great quantity of old buttons, and useless pieces of jingling metal. He next arrayed himself in beggarly habili-ments, with clouted shoes, tattered under-garments, a cloak mended in a hun-dred places, and a soiled, broad-brimmed bonnet on his head. The money-bag he tied firmly behind the saddle; he placed a pair of pistols under his coat, and a short dagger close by his side. Thus accoutred he wended his way slowly toward the border, both he and the animal apparently in the last stage of help-lessness and decrepitude. The bag behind was carefully covered by the cloak, that spread its duddy folds over the hinder parts of the poor lean beast that carried him. Sitting in a crouching posture on the saddle, with a long beard and an assumed palsified shaking of the hand, nobody would have conceived for a moment that Willie was a man in the prime of life, of a well-built, athletic frame, with more power in his arm than three ordinary men, and of an intrepid and adventurous spirit, that feared nothing, but dared every thing. In this plight, our worthy went dodging over the border, and entered the neighboring kingdom . . .
The stage being thus set, it's left to Willie to act out the part—if his adversary, a well-armed highwayman, doesn't kill him first . . .
Resources:
- Wikipedia has an article (HERE) about the true historical situation that prevailed at the time our story takes place.

The bottom line: "The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to a man: Your money, or your life. And many, if not most, taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat. The government does not, indeed, waylay a man in a lonely place, spring upon him from the road side, and, holding a pistol to his head, proceed to rifle his pockets. But the robbery is none the less a robbery on that account; and it is far more dastardly and shameful."
Lysander Spooner

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

"Suddenly, Calling the Police Didn't Seem Such a Good Idea, After All"

"Death Rides the Ski-Tow." 
By Patrick Quentin (Richard Webb, 1901-66, and Hugh Wheeler, 1912-87).
First appearance: The American Magazine, April 1941.
Collected in The Puzzles of Peter Duluth (Crippen & Landru, 2016) (for sale HERE).
Novelette (68 pages in the C & L edition).
"It's a singularly unattractive sensation being locked in a strange apartment with a strange corpse."
Peter Duluth is a bibulous Broadway producer who, fortunately for him, is married to Iris, dazzlingly beautiful and, as subsequent events will show, the real brains of the outfit.

In "Death Rides the Ski-Tow," during a long winter's night, Peter has one too many at a cocktail party and is staggering home in a steady fall of snow when he encounters a woman who, just moments later, is gunned down on the frozen street—but not before she unloads some vital information on him, practically painting a target on Peter in the process. Suddenly people he has never heard of are anxious to see him dead; thus begins a cat-and-mouse game between Peter and Iris and a ruthless gang of smugglers who won't balk at murder to get what they want—and that includes a $10,000 hot dog.

Comments: An extremely well-written story with vivid descriptions, nice bits of humor, and perfect pacing. As Curt Evans says in his introduction to the Crippen & Landru collection, it and its companion piece ("Murder with Flowers") are "intriguingly kaleidoscopic affairs reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock films."

Resources:
- Mike Grost has information about Patrick Quentin on his megasite (HERE), as do Wikipedia (HERE) and the GAD Wiki (HERE).
- Curtis Evans has a review of The Puzzles of Peter Duluth on his website (HERE).

The bottom line: "A tooth is much more to be prized than a diamond."
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Sunday, June 26, 2016

"Holler If You See Any Black Holes"

"Playing Nice with God’s Bowling Ball."
By N. K. Jemisin (born 1972).
First appearance: Jim Baen's Universe, August 2008.
Short story (19 pages).
Online at Tor.com HERE.
(Parental caution: Strong language.)
"In 'Playing Nice with God’s Bowling Ball,' a police detective tries to understand how a children’s dispute over a playing card could have led to a mysterious disappearance."
There are a lot of ways people can vanish, but even the Great Houdini never thought of this one.

Principal players:
~ Jeffy Hanson, age seven:
   "Timmy said he would give me the card back if I gave him something like the moon or a black hole. I couldn’t think of anything else, and the moon was too big, so I made a black hole and gave it to him. It was just a little one. But he started feeding it this giant stuffed panda he got from Coney Island last year. The panda was even bigger than he was. I tried to stop him. I told him it was too big. But he dented the special container it was in, and the black hole got loose and ate him. I told him to be careful."
~ Detective Grace Anneton:
   "Put a kid that age in front of a cop and they might tell little white lies, but not the kinds of whoppers this kid is spinning. He actually believes what he’s saying."
~ Taliafero:
   "'He killed somebody but can’t say where the body is; no, wait, he only thinks he killed him; no, wait…' He shook his head. 'Prank, maybe. Or just a flat-out lie'.”
~ Captain Dewitt:
   "If the kid did kill somebody, I don’t want him getting off on a technicality."
~ Mrs. Hanson, Jeffy's mother:
   ". . . a thin woman in a faded dress, who had perpetually-tired eyes, listened to the story with a little frown on her face, showing surprise only once. Not when Taliafero mentioned 'possible harm to Timmy Johnson'—that had only made her frown deepen. But when Jeffy gave his black hole explanation, her eyes widened, her breath caught and her body language screamed anxiety in a way that no detective could have missed."
~ Mrs. Johnson, Timmy's mother:
   "Jeffy? Sure I know him. Weird kid, but nice enough."

Resources:
- Wikipedia (HERE), the ISFDb (HERE), of course, and the author's website (HERE).
- In the story we read:
"He said Timmy still existed, sort of. That’s what he said, sort of. So I looked up black holes on the internet to try and understand. You see, the flow of time around Timmy, close to the black hole, is bent. It’s a matter of perception. To us, outside the hole, he vanished quickly but will slow down as he gets closer to the hole. Eventually, if we could see at the microscopic level, he’d look to us as if he was frozen in place. But for Timmy, time is stretched out. Only an eye-blink has passed since he started to fall in; he probably doesn’t even know he’s in trouble yet. It might take him years—by our reckoning—to fall in all the way. Or he might already be gone; it really depends on which theory you pick." She sipped her coffee, then swirled the remainder around in her cup. The dark liquid swirled about the center in a miniature whirlpool.
The story telling value of black holes hasn't been lost on science fiction writers, as Wikipedia (HERE) amply documents; real black holes (if they are, indeed, real) are detailed in Wikipedia (HERE). You might also consult TV Tropes' "Useful Notes" (HERE), a nifty compendium of information about black holes.

The bottom line: "The laws of nature are constructed in such a way as to make the universe as interesting as possible."
Freeman Dyson

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Acidulous Criticism Aimed at That Hansom Cab Guy

"A Master of Mystery."
By Unsigned (probably editor Richard H. Titherton).
"Literary Chat," Munsey's Magazine, December 1896.
Online at UNZ HERE (scroll down to page 377, or read the entire article below).
Less like a literary chat and more like a literary broadside, with the hapless author, Fergus Hume (1859-1932), getting hammered and sinking out of sight. Our anonymous critic's complaint, though, one that has been around for a long time, does have some merit: Too many detective stories are badly written, with predictable plots mechanically acted out by wooden characters. What he doesn't acknowledge, however, is that the same could be said of many other kinds of literature, then and now: bad poetry, bad mainstream novels, bad play-writing, and so forth. There has always been enough poorly written literature to keep cohorts of captious critics gainfully employed.

Without being conscious of it, Unsigned is also telling us what readers expected of the detec-tive tale of 120 years ago, how standardized the genre had already become, and, what's worse, how cliché-ridden it was.

What follows is the complete article:


A MASTER OF MYSTERY.
"The Carbuncle Clue," the latest achievement of Mr. Fergus Hume, of hansom cab fame, reminds us forcibly of a dime novel in a high state of cultivation. The "cultivation" has no connection with literary style, referring rather to the pub-lishers being reputable and the cover of the book more pretentious than that of the average volume of the "Half Dime Horror" variety. Regarding Mr. Hume's style, there is not much to be said. One realizes how defective is the English language when one looks about for an adjective to describe the diction of his books.
Those familiar with Mr. Hume's work—and who is not?—will remember that it is his custom to begin with a mysterious murder and finish with the vindication of an innocent man. Familiar music is the sweetest, familiar scenery the most grateful to the eye. Mr. Hume's books enthrall and fascinate because the reader always knows exactly how they will turn out, and thus avoids the nervous strain which physicians tell us is so injurious to the heart. When the corpse and the astute detective, the villain and the circumstantial evidence, have all been mar-shaled in due array, together with the accused man who refuses to tell what he was doing at the time of the crime, and the beautiful damsel who trusts her lover sublimely, then Mr. Hume takes his pen in hand, dips it in blood red ink, and embellishes the first chapter with gore and mystery.
Once having planned out one's life work and the methods by which it is to be furthered, there is nothing like plowing the furrow to the end. Mr. Hume is not the kind of man who makes a resolve on January 1 and breaks it on January 2. In the dim past, before he solved "The Mystery of a Hansom Cab," he deter-mined that there was a right way to write a detective story and that there was a wrong way. He proceeded to choose the latter, and with admirable consistency has clung to it ever since. His literary puppet booth boasts half a score of marionettes who have new dresses for every new play, and who never for a moment overstep the line that divides a live man and one of wood. Wonderful mysteries does the showman concoct for them, and thrilling situations; yet they always preserve their stolidity, and are dolls and nothing more.
Small wonder, indeed, that we enjoy the naivete with which Mr. Hume works out his attractively transparent plots, his presurmised complications, and his inevi-table denouements. Of course we all know that Mr. Punch is going to beat his wife and throw the baby down stairs and even get the best of the hangman. But we know, too, that in the end he is to go the way of the transgressor, and there-fore we can tolerate any amount of mystery and crime in the sweet certainty of ultimate retribution.
Resources:
- See Wikipedia (HERE) and the GAD Wiki (HERE) for more background on Fergus Hume.
- The Carbuncle Clue is available on Kindle (HERE).
- This particular critic wasn't the only one who found Humes's detective fiction objectionable; see Curt Evans's article at The Passing Tramp (HERE) for more.

Category: Detective fiction criticism

Friday, June 24, 2016

"In a Flash of Realization, the Whole Puzzle Clicked into Place!"

"Mystery on Pluto."
By Ward Fleming (?-?).
First appearance: Fantastic Adventures, February 1950.
Short story (10 pages).
Online at UNZ HERE.
(Note: First page is inverted; use rotation button to correct.)
(Plus bonus vignettes — "Space School" and "Sky-Hooks" — HERE.)
"Frank Grove's mining business on Pluto was in danger of being ruined. And it was up to Nick Anders to find out the reason why . . ."
Sometimes all a successful thief has to do is inhale.

Principal characters:
~ Frank Grove, the superintendent of Interstellar Mining Company's plant on Pluto:
   ". . . somehow or other, small quantities of the element [faltronium] have been disappear-ing. This can only mean that it has been stolen. One of you men here—someone I trusted—is responsible!"
~ Ann Grove, "the old superintendent's pretty daughter":
   "Thought of Ann always made Nick [Anders] go soft inside. She was gay and charming, yet serious, and desperately loyal to anyone she loved. She was content to spend her days on desolate Pluto, gladly shouldering an innumerable assortment of minor tasks just to be with her father. Like faltronium, she was a rarity, the kind of girl that would make a splended wife."
~ Nick Anders, a lab technician working in I.M.C.'s Pluto facility:
   "Nick groaned. Hell, the whole setup was crazy from start to finish. Here he was, accused of something he hadn't done, and as good as bound for one of the more savage of the Jovian or Saturnian satellite penal colonies already. And Ann—Ann loved him. But she probably hated him now."
~ Guglo Atska, "the Martian who comprised the third member of the laboratory staff":
   "Atska was a furtive, queer old gnome who spoke only when absolutely necessary. If any-one was the thief, Nick felt that the little Martian would be the most likely."
~ Rod Boldt:
   "Almost fervently Nick wished that Boldt were the thief. Then, he thought wistfully, he'd have Ann all for himself. But Boldt couldn't be, for like Atska he came near faltronium only in gravel form."
~ Hans, the cook:
   "And Hans? Nick smiled in the darkness. The fat little Europian would give himself away immediately even if he had stolen so much as a speck of faltronium."
Pluto and its largest moon Charon compared to the Earth
Whiz-bang science:

   "Faltronium, as he knew, was used primarily as a catalyst to accelerate the reaction in the Gerelli-Stevenson rocket engines, which were the most economical and powerful yet devised. No other element was as effective. It had originally been discovered on Titan and after some experimentation, had been added to the list of known elements. Succeeding search had unearthed it on a few other out-lying planets and their moons. But the largest deposits yet discovered were on Pluto. These were owned by the famous Interstellar Mining Company.
   "Because of faltronium's scarcity it was easy to understand why stealing even the smallest quantity of it was a serious crime. Only radium of the last century had been as valuable and as rare."

Typo: "labortory"

Resources:
- The only information confirming that our author actually existed is on the ISFDb HERE; we suspect that he was the magazine's editor incognito.
- The planet Pluto has enjoyed the attention of science fiction writers ever since its discovery in 1930 (see Wikipedia HERE); thanks to the data still coming in from last year's New Hori-zons space probe flyby, the nonfictional Pluto is beginning to look a lot stranger than any-one, including "Ward Fleming," ever anticipated (see Wikipedia HERE).

The bottom line: Poor Pluto was demoted from full planethood in 2006, but in spite of that, to some of us Pluto was, is, and always will be a planet.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

"Deliberately, Cleverly, and Diabolically Murdered"

"But the Patient Died."
By Lawrence G. Blochman (1900-75).
First appearance: Collier's, October 18, 1947.
Reprinted in The Saint Detective Magazine, June/July 1953; The Saint Detective Magazine (Australia), October 1954; The Saint Detective Magazine (UK), December 1954; and Mystery Digest, March 1958.
Collected in Diagnosis: Homicide (1950).
Short story (7 pages).
Online at UNZ HERE (start) and HERE (finish; scroll down to page 104).
(Note: Poor illustrations, but the text is readable.)
"Her relatives were all terribly upset—but one of them was a murderer."
This is the first appearance of a character that this author would come back to often over the next quarter century:
Blochman's Dr. Coffee tale, "But the Patient Died" (1947), is a straightforward Dr. Thorndyke imitation. The first tale in the Dr. Coffee series, it furnishes a good summary of both the daily hospital work and routine of Dr. Coffee, and of his and his police friend Max Ritter's personalities. It makes for pleasant reading, although quite mechanical in its approach to mystery. The best touches in the story deal with politics in Coffee's hometown of Northbank. — Mike Grost, the GAD Wiki (HERE)
When a young woman mysteriously dies after a routine operation, Dr. Coffee's skills as a pathologist lead him to only one possible diagnosis: murder.

Main characters:
~ Dr. Daniel Webster Coffee, Chief Pathologist at Pasteur Hospital:
   "Lab tests showed Mrs. Baron in good physical shape this morning. Her blood clotted in the normal time of three minutes. A few hours later her blood just wouldn't clot at all, so that she bled to death despite a technically perfect operation. I've got to find out what happened to her in those few hours."
~ Doris Hudson, Coffee's lab assistant:
   "She was tall and slim and wore her white smock as though it had been custom-tailored."
~ Dr. Andrews, the surgeon:
   "It was a simple operation—an old appendix. I've done dozens and dozens, and never lost a patient before." 
~ Mrs. Harriet Baron, the victim:
   "'She was a beautiful thing, Dan.' Dr. Andrews seemed to be talking to himself reproach-fully. 'Young. Long golden hair. Married only a year. . .'"
~ Jerry Baron, the husband:
   "Mr. Baron and Miss Price drowned their sorrow for a while and then departed, with my boys right behind. The bereaved husband drove the sorrowing Miss Price to her home on the Heights. They went in and turned on a light. My boys say that after one minute and twenty seconds of the first round Miss Price broke the clinch, went to her own corner, and pulled down the shade."
~ Margery Grey, the sister:
   "Whatever she saw there seemed to frighten her. Her eyes widened. Then her lips closed again with some newfound strength. She was no longer plain-looking. She was suddenly mature, resolute, even beautiful; it was the beauty of character."
~ Steve Forest, the ex-boyfriend:
   "And if I were in Northbank tonight, instead of out here on the other side of the world, I'd like nothing better than killing you with my own hands. Yes, you and that hairless lap dog you say you love so much."
~ Diana Price, the friend:
   "'Something's wrong with her,' Dr. Coffee said. 'Did you notice the skin around her eyes? And her lips?'"
~ Miss Green, the head nurse:
   "Miss Price has always shown a great interest in her work."
~ Lieutenant Max Ritter:
   "There's nothing like a little high-class science to scare hell out of a wrong guy."
~ Dr. Thomas Vane, the Northbank County coroner:
   "'Just as I thought,' said the coroner. 'Surgical shock and internal hemorrhage.' He winked at Dr. Coffee. 'Nothing criminal here. Nobody to blame. I'll just sign the death certificate'."
Nice moments:

   "THE waiting room in the surgical wing of Pasteur Hospital was very much like a hundred other waiting rooms in a hundred other hospitals in the American Middle West. The last cheerless light of the setting sun filtered through the many windows to scatter shadows over the impersonal neatness of the wicker furniture and the potted rubber plants. The false casualness of visitors awaiting word of life or death made subdued voices as hollow as the fierce efforts at concentration of those who pretended to read."

   "The smartly dressed woman crossed her silken legs and opened her suede bag. The emerald-cut diamond on her right hand sketched an arc of cold fire as she raised a fragrant wisp of lace to dab at her dark eyes."
Resources:
- Wikipedia (HERE), the GAD Wiki (HERE), and the IMDb (HERE) have info about Lawrence G. Blochman and his output, while Only Detect discusses one of Blochman's novels (HERE).
- Dr. Daniel Webster Coffee appeared in just over two dozen shorter works between 1947 and 1974 (ten are available free online); here is the FictionMags list of his appearances ("ss" = short story; "nv" = novelette):

   (1) "But the Patient Died" (nv) Collier’s, October 18, 1947 [online HERE and HERE]
   (2) "Rum for Dinner" (ss) Collier’s, February 7, 1948 [online HERE and HERE]
   (3) "Sleepwalker" (ss) Collier’s, May 15, 1948; also as “Catfish Story” [online HERE and HERE]
   (4) "Deadly Backfire" (ss) Collier’s, January 22, 1949 [online HERE, HERE, and HERE]
   (5) "Brood of Evil" (ss) Collier’s, April 2, 1949 [online HERE, HERE, and HERE]
   (6) "Diagnosis Deferred" (ss) Collier’s, December 24, 1949 [online HERE and HERE]
   (7) "The Swami of Northbank" (ss) Collier’s, July 15, 1950 [online HERE and HERE]
   (8) "Kiss of Kandahar" (nv) Collier’s, February 17, 1951; also as “A Kiss for Belinda” [online HERE and HERE]
   (9) "Calendar Girl" (nv) Collier’s, September 20, 1952 [online HERE]
   (10) "If You Want to Get Killed" (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, June 1955
   (11) "Stacked Deck" (ss) Collier’s, June 8, 1956; also as “A Case of Poetic Justice” [online HERE]
   (12) "The Man Who Lost His Taste" (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, July 1958
   (13) "Murder in a Motel" (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, April 1959
   (14) "The Wolf and the Wayward WAC" (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, May 1963
   (15) "Young Wife" (ss) This Week, November 17, 1963
   (16) "The Killer with No Fingerprints" (nv) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, June 1964
   (17) "Goodbye, Stranger" (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, October 1964
   (18) "Death by Drowning?" (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, April 1965
   (19) "Dr. Coffee and the Philanderer’s Brain" (nv) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, August 1966
   (20) "Missing: One Stage-Struck Hippie" (nv) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, September 1970
   (21) "Dr. Coffee and the Amateur Angel" (nv) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, October 1971
   (22) "Dr. Coffee and the Pardell Case" (nv) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, June 1972
   (23) "Dr. Coffee and the Whiz Kid" (nv) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, November 1972
   (24) "Dr. Coffee and the Other Twin" (nv) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, May 1973
   (25) "The Hate Collector" (ss) Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, March 1974

- Dr. Coffee's first appearance on screen was in the Lux Video Theatre episode "Diagnosis: Homicide" (August 1957) (see the IMDb HERE).
- There was also a short-lived TV series featuring this character (July-September 1960; just 9 shows), with Patrick O'Neal (1927-94) as Dr. Coffee, Chester Morris (1901-70) as Max Ritter, and Phyllis Newman (born 1933) as Doris Hudson; according to Jimbo Berkey at his Free Classic TV Shows website (HERE), apparently only one episode still survives:
The Diagnosis: Unknown television show was the summer replacement for the Gary Moore Show, and aired every Tuesday evening at 10 p.m. Dr. Coffee was a scientist that solved crimes using science to interpret clues. This was the first television show that brought the scientist into the crime field as the main pro-tagonist. Unfortunately, I can only find one surviving episode, and it isn't in great shape, but it is a wonderful look at a brand new genre of television crime show, long before C.S.I. and the shows we are familiar with today.
Also see Wikipedia HERE for more about the show, including an episode list; as the article makes plain, Diagnosis: Unknown can be regarded as a precursor to the Dick Van Dyke series Diagnosis: Murder.

The bottom line: "A doctor who lacks doubt is not a doctor. He's an executioner."
Hercule Poirot