Saturday, January 9, 2016


"In Short: Mysteries."
Scribner's, November 1938.
Online HERE.

It's 1938 and Mabel Seeley makes her first big splash in the world of detective fiction:

~ The Fashion in Shrouds by Margery Allingham (1904-66):
The debonair characters in The Fashion in Shrouds meet up in a swank dress shop. From there they go to places less fashionable, and some meet sticky ends. The puzzle is a deep one, and the writing is miles higher than average detective-story quality.
The Kirkus review:
Top ranking whodunit in Dorothy Sayers tradition. Mr. Campion rides a merry-go-round while trying to figure out how a lovely actress manages to have opportune deaths remove the wrong men from her life. Campion's sister is implicated in the current husband's death. Ultimately, Campion catches his criminal in the act — and almost loses his own life. Plus sale for non-mysteryites as first rate novel of fashionable London. Suspense — humor — well planned, well written.
Goodreads reviews (73) HERE - The Telegraph article HERE - Wikipedia HERE - GAD Wiki HERE - FictionMags HERE - A tribute site HERE

~ A Blunt Instrument by Georgette Heyer (1902-74):
In [A] Blunt Instrument Inspector Hannasyde endures a lot of alibis that don't gee, time schedules that don't fit, and people who are eternally in the way. In spite of all this, the Inspector comes through with an amazing solution.
The Kirkus review:
Among the silly but engaging toffs and those of lowlier station (including a policeman who bleakly quotes Scripture) it's not too difficult to put the finger on the wielder of the blunt instrument—who did in womanizer Ernest Fletcher and finished off his blackmailer. For fanciers of willowy young men and lady novelists who wear monocles.
MBTB Blog HERE - Mystery*File HERE - Wikipedia HERE - GAD Wiki HERE - FictionMags HERE - A tribute site HERE

~ Terror by Night by Lee Crosby (1905-67):
Much of Terror by Night has an H. G. Wellsian-Conan Doyleish atmosphere, what with its prehistoric monsters on the loose and all. But there's a modern and logical explanation of all these strange goings-on that makes this one of the shiveriest horror-mystery yarns of the year.
The Kirkus review:
A Philadelphia suburb is terrorized by the beast that walks by night. Then there is a murder, and an amateur criminologist is called in. Further murders — further night terrors — and eventual capture of both the "terror" and the killer, and the proof that was lacking comes out in the confession (which isn't fair to the reader).
FictionMags HERE

~ The Listening House by Mabel Seeley (1903-91):
In The Listening House Mabel Seeley describes the murderous events which transpire in a sinister boardinghouse. Guaranteed to keep readers' hair-on-end and feet-on-toes.
The Kirkus review:
First rate whodunit, with enough of romance to give it a Mary Roberts Rinehart appeal. The death of a stranger, followed by the murder of a lodging house keeper of unsavory reputation brings each member of the house under suspicion. Young woman Dacre with a nose for news suffers successive attacks. Plenty of red herrings. A bit of unfairness in conclusion, but that is forgiven for the well-sustained suspense of the telling. This is a newcomer in the field — a good 'un.
The Passing Tramp HERE - Mystery*File HERE - Wikipedia HERE - GAD Wiki HERE - FictionMags HERE

~ The Case of the Cheating Bride by Milton Propper (1906-62):
A Philadelphia heiress drops dead from cyanide as she disembarks from her honeymoon cruise and provides an unusually involved plot for Detective Tommy Rankin in The Case of the Cheating Bride.
The Kirkus review:
Average fair. New York and Philadelphia police join forces to solving the murder of a bride returning from her Bermuda honeymoon. Tommy Rankin from Philadelphia delves into the past — the importance of a will — and with detailed running down of leads, manages to see justice done.
"The Criminal Record" in The Saturday Review (October 22, 1938):
Poison slays Phila. heiress at end of honeymoon voyage. Sleuth Rankin unveils family skeletons and outwits too-clever criminal. - Value of yarn lies in shrewd plotting rather than slightly wooden characters and perfunctorily described events. - Verdict: Passable.
The Passing Tramp HERE - GAD Wiki HERE

~ The Platinum Cat by Miles Burton (1884-1964):
In The Platinum Cat Amateur Detective Arthur Merrion hops from clue to clue and lands in the middle of an international plot that threatens England's safety. Well worked out in sober British style.
The Kirkus review:
Scotland Yard's meticulous Arnold and the amateur criminologist Merrion work together in helping the Ministry of Defence find out whether the secret plan for England's defence against air raids has been sold to a foreign power. They find a dead body in a burned house to be that of one of the Ministry's employees. Merrion leaps and Arnold dogs to an unsatisfactory conclusion. Open and above board with the reader.
"The Criminal Record" in The Saturday Review (September 24, 1938):
Calcined corpse in English cottage identified as possessor of valuable War secrets. Miles Burton and War office independently seek killer. - Interesting spectacle of several clever investigators reaching same conclusions by different methods, plus better than average international spy yarn. - Verdict: Able.
Wikipedia HERE - GAD Wiki HERE

Category: Detective fiction criticism

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