Friday, July 11, 2014

"Kinda Funny, with Moments of Real Amusement, but Decidedly Meringue Flavor"

Humor is the only test of gravity, and gravity of humor; for a subject which will not bear raillery is suspicious, and a jest which will not bear serious examination is false wit. — Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) 
We've been unable to uncover any biographical information about our author, Richard Shattuck, who evidently took every chance she got to inject humor into her crime fiction—but was she successful? Remember: "De gustibus non est disputandum."

By Richard Shattuck (? - ?).
William Morrow and Co.
1940. 262 pages.
[Mercury Mystery edition: THE BODY IN THE BRIDAL BED, 1940]
Filmed in 1944 as The Ghost That Walks Alone (IMDb).
[Excerpt] . . . This didn't do it for me at all. Even the mystery itself is lacking in the kind of puzzle elements that make a mystery entertaining for me. The culprit is fairly obvious as he is depicted as the most hateful person in this group of clowns and buffoons. The clues about his character are all there in his dialogue. Real evidence is lacking. A convenient eyewitness in the form of a little old lady turns up at the eleventh hour in order to give the only real proof of the murderer's guilt. It's all a bit of an anticlimax when the murderer is named and caught.
I was excited about finding a copy of this hard to find book but utterly disappointed in its content.  Here's another case of a mystery highly praised that turns out to be nothing but hyperbole. — John, PRETTY SINISTER BOOKS (January 20, 2014)
I almost classed this as an historical mystery, too, as it is set in the pre-World War II period. But as it was written then, as well, it seems unnecessary. Ty and Sue have just gotten married at the Bohemian La Cucaracha Hotel. When Sue stumbles into the wrong room, she finds a dead body. Ty, anxious to protect her, finds himself engaged in a game of hide-the-body with several drunk friends. This is the novelistic equivalent of a screwball comedy at the movies: if you want to read a novel in which someone is arrested to protect him from the police, this is your cup of tea. Very funny! — Susan, GOODREADS (February 12, 2010)
Murder of a universally hated man at a desert hotel monks the honeymoon of Sue and Ty and a wave of amateur gumshosing lands them and their friends in a fine series of comic adventures, which resolve into serious entanglement when real detectives land on the scene. Ty's voluntary jailing provides him with a brainstorm—and they trap the killer. Kinda funny, with moments of real amusement, but decidedly meringue flavor. On the whole, not as good as The Norths Meet Murder. — KIRKUS REVIEWS (April 17, 1940)
By Richard Shattuck (? - ?).
William Morrow and Co.
1941. 248 pages. $2.00
[Mercury Mystery edition: WITH BLOOD AND KISSES, 1953]
Strangulation, electrocution and possible poison carry off will-bearing family lawyer in expectant—and how—Mass. mansion. Hopeful bachelor solves it. - Improperly snickersome throughout. Murder is quite incidental, but hilarious improprieties should amuse readers with taste for Boccacian revelry. - Verdict: High. — "The Criminal Record," THE SATURDAY REVIEW (April 12, 1941)
Cockeyed doing about a California girl returning to the East to look up the family, and landing in a nest of earnest inheritors of a stork derby. She falls in love with the bachelor member of the family; there's murder done; there's a catch in the will; there's repeated interruption of romance; and there are chuckles and wacky dialog and amusing characters and situations galore. Something of the flavor of the old Broadway success, The Tavern. Sheer entertainment value. — KIRKUS REVIEWS (April 9, 1941)
Golden Gate (please, call her Sandy!) is visiting her father's family in the east, chauffering her Aunt Maud around the countryside. They end up in the Shilly mansion, where a stolen car and an unexpected snowstorm maroon them for the night. The late Mortimer Shilly's five nephews are on hand, along with his elderly twin sister and his secretive lawyer, waiting to see who will inherit his fortune. Sandy finds herself falling hard for one of the nephews, but when a body turns up, their attention turns from romance to detection. There's a sinister butler named Daybreak, and a tactless veterinarian on hand, but Aunt Maud gets the last word in this delectable farce. — Susan, GOODREADS (March 4, 2010)
By Richard Shattuck (? - ?).
Simon and Schuster.
1944. 213 pages.
Curious happenings, and bright banter for the unheroic saga of Rocky Smith, gunned for by unknown assailants on a plane flight west, and saving his skin—in theory—by confessing to the murder of a Merman girl. Not taken too seriously by the sheriff, Rocky helps along with the investigation among the eccentric Frys, finds clues to some valuable oils, escapes a lynching, and gets clear for a more peaceful life in the Navy. Engaging foolery. — KIRKUS REVIEWS (May 12, 1944)
Rocky is heading to California to be inducted into the navy when, groggy from medication, he sees an old friend who is now an intelligence agent, and who seems to need his help. Concerned that the bad guys are after him, Rocky uses an emergency stop to confess to a murder, thinking jail will be a safe place to hide. The local sheriff seems a little skeptical about his confession, and the murdered woman's unloving family exhibits their bizarre habits for him. Rocky is very attracted to the dead woman's sister, the beautiful Gertrude, but it's her cousin Chloe who seems more eager to help him find the real killer. Written and set during World War II. — Susan, GOODREADS (February 20, 2010)

Category: Detective fiction

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