Frank Bunce – So Young a Body (1950)


Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: Why — A character has job similar to yours
TBR #22 (14e, 8p)
Date Finished: February 14, 2019

Mr. Humble, a mild-mannered accountant, has added some spice to his vacation cruise by telling everyone that he is a private detective. When a murder occurs aboard the ship, with movement of the body and strange ghost writing, he is called upon to solve the mystery. Rather than reveal his deception he proceeds with the assistance of Dorrit Bly, a know-it-all extroverted law office stenographer with a photographic memory. Inquiring among the passengers, they soon discover various motives and eventually another murder, before arriving at the final solution shortly before their arrival in their final port.

A humorous mystery with a different type of detective, this one isn’t a terribly difficult mystery to solve, but is enlivened by the lead characters. Some of the secondary characters receive little attention, due to its short length, but overall it was a satisfying read.

Since I don’t have any archivist detectives, I’ll use this as the selection for “a character has job similar to yours,” since I tell everyone that my job is like doing detective work every day, but is probably more similar to an accountant’s.

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Rufus King – Diagnosis Murder (1941)


Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: Who — In the Medical Field
Calendar of Crime: June #9 – Birth month – wild card book
TBR #21 (13e, 8p)
Date Finished: February 12, 2019

This volume consists of five short stories featuring Dr. Colin Starr, small-town Ohio doctor with plenty of wealthy clients, as well as one longer novelette. The short stories are well-paced mysteries with Starr discovering medical clues that prove murder and lead to the guilty parties. The novelette, “The Case of the Lonely Ladies,” is nowhere as good and was a frustrating read. Starr is much less featured, though he does provide the resolution. The lead character and suspect, Lily Elser, spends 80 pages lying to the police in order to cover up for her daughter, who she believes has murdered a guest in their new bed & breakfast. Of course, the daughter is innocent, but what could have easily been resolved if the truth had been told is dragged out much too long.

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Phoebe Atwood Taylor – Deathblow Hill (1935)


Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: How — Death by strangulation
Calendar of Crime: August #9 – Summer holiday setting
TBR #20 (12e, 8p)
Date Finished: February 11, 2019

A Cape Cod lighthouse and home, being rented out for summer vacationers, is beset by mysterious individuals with yellow handkerchiefs that are tied up as if for strangling someone. Soon strangulation occurs, including the wealthy boss of a young woman vacationing at the house, who may not be as innocent as she seems. The old seafaring father-in-law of the current owner, as well as the father of the feuding neighbor woman, supposedly left a fortune somewhere, and all hands are on deck seeking it. Asey Mayo is called upon to untie the knots of this mystery.

A cleverly plotted and paced mystery, the sixth in the series, that has begun to move beyond the stiffness of the first few, but is not yet into the slapstick humor of later ones. Asey is presented without much of his regional dialect in print, which aids the reading, and doesn’t require the Bostonian spinster to act as our interpreter and guide, as the earliest ones did. Very good.

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Craig Rice – Trial By Fury (1941)


Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: What — Comic/Humorous novel
Calendar of Crime: July #9 – Takes Place in U.S. or Canada
TBR #19 (12e, 7p)
Date Finished: February 9, 2019

Jake and Helene Justus, on a fishing trip in Wisconsin, are present at a murder in a small-town courthouse. The murdered man, a disliked, unscrupulous, wealthy bank owner, was in the midst of confronting several of the town’s leading types over some missing funds. Jake, being the outsider, is under suspicion by the sheriff, so Malone is called in from Chicago. Banks are blown up, skeletons are found, floozies are strangled, insane asylums are burned down. But in a humorous way.

Perhaps not quite the classics that the earlier books in this series are, this one is still a fun read with a small-town Wisconsin setting. There isn’t too much local flavor to distinguish it from Rice’s small-town Iowa setting in The Thursday Turkey Murders, but it is still filled with quirky characters. Malone saves the day in his usual grumpy manner.

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A.A. Fair – Double or Quits (1941)


Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: Who — Professional is main sleuth
Calendar of Crime: July #2 – Author’s birth month
TBR #18 (11e, 7p)
Date Finished: February 7, 2019

Donald Lam becomes a full partner in the Lam & Cool Detective Agency by pressuring Bertha Cool by threatening to withdraw during a murder investigation. A prominent doctor is found asphyxiated next to his running car in a closed garage. Previously there had been a jewel theft at his house and the disappearance of his secretary, but Donald suspects that the jewels were taken by the doctor himself to justify the police investigating the theft of some papers from that safe. Could the doctor’s death be an accidental coincidence or is it all tied in together?

Aside from the recently discovered and published story The Knife Slipped, this is the final Cool & Lam story that I had yet to read. This one was disappointing as it lacked much of Donald’s cleverness and tricky resolution. He still is a master detective here, deducing things from clues overlooked by everyone else, but the murderer almost gets him in the end as he seems to be a step behind his usual self.

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Carter Brown – The Sad-Eyed Seductress (1961)


Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: How — Death by strangulation
Calendar of Crime: November #6 – Original publication month
TBR #17 (10e, 7p)
Date Finished: February 5, 2019

Danny Boyd is brought to California from New York to find the missing daughter of a wealthy jerk. He finds her strangled with two characters making their getaway. After being slugged, he uses clues that lead to a chic dress designer, a fading movie star who throws crazy parties, and various women who throw themselves at him. What’s behind it all? Drugs, of course.

The annoying smirking attitude is kept at bay here enough to get through a fairly adequate mystery, though filled with implausible coincidences. None of it really relates to the title or cover painting, but I don’t think you cared about that when buying these.

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Kathleen Moore Knight – High Rendezvous (1954)

DBC cover

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: Where — Any outdoor location
European Reading Challenge – Switzerland
TBR #16 (10e, 6p)
Date Finished: February 3, 2019

A young woman, who has taken her step-daughter with her as they fled to France away from her abusive husband, thinks she has killed him when he arrives to reclaim his daughter. She flees again to a remote mountain hotel in Switzerland, but he soon tracks them down and traps them in the off-season resort, killing the handymen and leaving only three women and the young step-daughter on the mountain. A Paris photographer neighbor of the woman also follows and tries to save them.

A thrilling-enough story, though the young woman character makes a number of dumb mistakes, as characters usually do in these types of stories. I kept expecting the evil husband to reappear in the last chapter as his capture was rather anticlimactic and bloodless, but he did not. The Switzerland setting was okay, though largely limited to the mountain and the tram car that serviced the hotel.

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