Wednesday, November 1, 2017


EARLIER THIS WEEK we discussed S. S. Van Dine's immortal creation Philo Vance; now
let's return to Van Dine's often shrewd assessments of the work of other contemporaneous writers . . .

By S. S. Van Dine (Willard Huntington Wright, 1888-1939).
In Scribner's, February 1939.
Online at UNZ (HERE).

"Early winter is something of a closed season for literary homicides, but this year several very competent murderers have disregarded the game laws."
~ The Bigger They Come by A. A. Fair (Erle Stanley Gardner, 1889-1970):
  ". . . a tough, outspoken tale in the Hammett manner, but with copious excellencies peculiarly its own. The hero is a wiry little law student turned private detective, and there are two characters—a gangster and the redoubt-able Mrs. Cool—who seem to have stepped straight out of Dickens. We have two murders, a nicely sadistic torture scene, some highly seasoned passages d'amour, and a plot that hinges on an amazing legal quirk that the hero has unearthed in true Randolph-Mason fashion. It is pretty early to pick the best crime thriller of the year, but I doubt if there will be many better, and any livelier, than this one."
  See also: The GAD Wiki (HERE), The Thrilling Detective Website (HERE), and The Rap Sheet (HERE).

~ Four Frightened Women by George Harmon Coxe (1901-84):
  ". . . another tough baby. Kent Murdock, newspaper photographer, sets out to make some shots of a radio star, and runs into an unholy mess of murder, blackmail, kidnaping, and general thuggery. A bevy of luxuriant females, with and without drapery, decorate the landscape; and one of them is murdered in circumstances so compromising to Mr. Murdock that he exits by a window with the speed of light. The radio luminary is likewise killed while Murdock is again having a nocturnal tete-a-tete with a lovely lady. In short, there are tall goings-on. Fortunately, all the lush overtones cannot conceal a great deal of good deduction that leads to a conclusion that is explosive in more ways than one."
  See also: The GAD Wiki (HERE) and The Thrilling Detective Website (HERE).
~ Death and the Maiden by Q. Patrick (various):
  "College campuses and murders seem strangely antipathetic. Yet, assuming that crime will raise its ugly head in the most dignified of cloistered halls, Death and the Maiden is a praiseworthy job. Two girls meet sticky ends—one in a lonely quarry, the other in a garden pool—and the identity of the slayer, as finally divulged, comes as a complete—and somewhat unpleasant—surprise. But the college atmosphere is authentically portrayed, and the plot is shrewdly developed."
  See also: The GAD Wiki (HERE), Wikipedia (HERE), and The Passing Tramp (HERE).

- It's been nineteen months since we last viewed any of Van Dine's Scribner's reviews (HERE).

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