George Harmon Coxe – The Silent Witness (1973)


Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: Who — Matriarch/Patriarch of family
Cloak and Dagger Challenge #99
TBR #69
Date Finished: July 13, 2018

Jack Fenner is brought in by a legal team to protect fellow heirs before a proxy fight, as the new head of the company and the family has threatened them. Those threatened include his newly discovered sister, his wife, and his wife’s ex-husband, who also manages the business. When the heir turns up dead, despite being under surveillance by Fenner’s team, and despite one of the main suspects being alibied by Fenner himself, he keeps digging, especially into the motives of a mobster with whose mistress the man is also having an affair with.

A disappointing finale to Coxe’s writing career, as Fenner again takes the main stage, with only a token appearance by Kent Murdock. The strange switch to Fenner to the last two mysteries is even stranger in that Fenner’s character isn’t that great of a focus here and the mystery doesn’t seem very different than if Murdock were investigating it. The alibi business is rather obvious and leads to an obvious solution. Much time is spent on the mobster and his thugs, ignoring the female characters. When Murdock does appear, it is so impersonal and perfunctory that it doesn’t even seem like him. It is too bad that he couldn’t have received the farewell that he deserved.

Just the Facts Silver Card 2018-07-13

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