Monday, October 6, 2014

"The Explanation Is Logical, If Not Quite Probable"

By Octavus Roy Cohen (1891-1959).
Dodd, Mead & Co.
1922. 281 pages. $1.75
Online HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.
For this author, detective fiction was a sometime thing:
Octavus Roy Cohen was born in South Carolina. He was educated at the Porter Military Academy, and then attended the Clemson University. He worked as a newspaper editor from 1910 to 1912. He wrote a series of stories about African-Americans that were published in The Saturday Evening Post. In 1913, he was admitted to the South Carolina bar and practiced law in Charleston for two years. Between 1917 and his death he published 56 books, including humorous novels, detective novels, scripts and plays, and short stories. — OPEN LIBRARY
[Full review] The mystery of a murder is cleverly put before the reader. A woman, carrying a bag, gets into a supposedly empty taxicab at midnight at a railway station and orders the driver to take her to a certain address.
When he gets there, the woman is not in the cab, but a murdered man is; and the bag handed to the driver by the woman turns out to belong to this murdered man and contains his clothes. The driver is honest and innocent. The explanation is logical, if not quite probable. — "The New Books," THE OUTLOOK (February 22, 1922)
[Full review] Octavus Roy Cohen's "Midnight" is an intriguing detective story contingent on the murder of a man of wealth and position. The charming fiancée of the murdered man, her brother, the beautiful and unhappy wife of a middle-aged financier, her sister the young flapper who plays such an important part in untangling the mystery, a valet, a taxi driver, and the chief of police are all well drawn characters who fit smoothly into the plot and in their turn excite our sympathy, amusement, and distrust, feeding the flame of curiosity to the end. — "Recent Books in Brief Review," THE BOOKMAN (April 1922)
. . . Midnight features a fairly complex plot unreeled at a slower pace than in many works. Older novels of detection often display social mores that seem strange to modern eyes, for example not mentioning a woman's name at the club or the terrible consequences of cheating at cards or in some other way being touched by the rancid breath of scandal. [Amateur criminologist] David Carroll must navigate these treacherous waters to solve the mystery of the who and how and why of the crime. — Mary Reed, MYSTERY*FILE (10 January 2009)
- Mike Grost discusses other works by Cohen HERE, as does Jon Breen HERE.
- Wikipedia has an article about Cohen HERE.

Category: Detective fiction

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