John D. MacDonald – April Evil (1955)

AprilEvilM3138

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: When — Time/Date/etc in Title
Calendar of Crime: April #1 – Month in Title
TBR #88 (56e, 32p)
Date Finished: July 24
, 2019

Various people around a small Florida town become involved when a gang of crooks attempts to rob a wealthy old man who doesn’t believe in keeping his money in the bank. MacDonald presents interesting character studies of these individuals while moving the story along with a good level of suspense. This one is largely missing his later philosophical asides and is the better for that. Very engrossing.

Just the Facts Golden 2019-07-24Calendar of Crime Checkoff Sheet 2017-07-24

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Brett Halliday – Murder in Haste (1961)

MurderinHaste

Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: Where — In a hospital/nursing home
TBR #87 (56e, 31p)
Date Finished: July 24
, 2019

Mike Shayne is hired by the wife of a man on death row, along with the widow of the man he supposedly murdered in a robbery attempt, to find evidence of the man’s innocence. Miami Beach police chief and Shayne rival, Peter Painter, is also on the case but is abducted with his evidence. Some thugs are running around attempting to murder people, including tossing a bomb in a hospital room. Shayne must save Painter, prove the innocence of the prisoner, and find the lost money before time runs out.

An action-packed ghost-written Shayne novel that entertains but doesn’t provide much substance. Adequate.

Just the Facts Silver 2019-07-24

Lange Lewis – Murder Among Friends (1942)

MurderAmongFriends

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: Where — At a school
TBR #86 (56e, 30p)
Date Finished: July 21, 2019

A young woman takes a secretarial job at the dean’s office of the medical school at a California university. The previous secretary disappeared the previous week, but her body is soon discovered among the medical cadavers in the school lab. An autopsy reveals that she had been slowly poisoned, and also was pregnant. Who among the medical school students with whom she associated, and with whom the new secretary also associates, could be the murder?

An interesting setting with an almost weird horror atmosphere, especially when finding the body among the cadavers and body parts. Perhaps not a classic, but still an entertaining mystery.

Just the Facts Golden 2019-07-21

Louis L’Amour – The Tall Stranger (1957)

TallStranger

Vintage Western
TBR #85 (55e, 30p)
Date Finished: July 20, 2019

A gunman hooks up with a wagon train heading toward Oregon, but doesn’t win a lot of friends before a more charming schemer turns the wagon train toward a valley controlled by a rancher. The schemer wants to control that valley and is determined to use the settlers to force an armed conflict. The gunman, who turns out to be the adopted son of the owner, is determined to keep the settlers, or at least one particular female settler, safe from the conflict.

Apparently this was an expanded version of an earlier short story, and filmed as a Joel McCrea movie in 1957. It has been a while since I’ve watched that movie, but I didn’t quite picture Joel McCrea for this role. Although this novel moves along fine, nothing feels very original or unusual here.

George Harmon Coxe – Four Frightened Women (1939)

FourFrightenedWomen

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: What — Number in the title
TBR #84 (55e, 29p)
Date Finished: July 13, 2019

Kent Murdock, at a radio/movie comedian’s country estate to take magazine photographs of the actor and his ex-wife, gets slipped a mickey and wakes up to find himself next to the naked body of the now deceased ex-wife. Managing to avoid being discovered there, he has to track down the murderer among the house guests before the cops pin the crime on him.

No sign, or mention, of Kent’s wife in this one, but Jack Fenner is also among the guests and helps find the killer, though Kent isn’t fully honest with him. Having read the later ones in the series first, the amount that Fenner appears in these is surprising. The mystery here is good, though a bit country-houseish. It feels as if Coxe was still shedding some of his pulp roots, though, and not quite up to his later standards.

Just the Facts Golden 2019-07-13

Ngaio Marsh – Night at the Vulcan (1951)

NightattheVulcan

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: When — During a performance of any sort
TBR #82 (54e, 28p)
Date Finished: July 6, 2019

A young actress, fresh from New Zealand and without funds, takes the job as dresser to a star actress. Complicated relationships abound. She also resembles the lead actor greatly, since she is either his second cousin or illegitimate daughter, so soon takes over the stage role of daughter, as well. Meanwhile, the lead actress’ husband dies by gas in his dressing room during the play, causing Alleyn to sniff around backstage, after he quickly rules out suicide.

Marsh does much better with these theatrical mysteries than with the upper crust ones and this one is good. The murder takes some time to occur, but at least the theatrical world is more interesting than the usual tea and crumpets crowd.

Just the Facts Golden 2019-07-06