Carter Dickson – Seeing Is Believing (1941)

SeeingIsBelieving

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Food
Date Finished: October 19, 2017

At a small dinner party, a hypnotist shows off his parlor trick of hypnotizing a young wife and have her stab her husband with a toy knife if she loves him or shoot him with a real gun, filled with blanks unbeknownst to her, if she does not. The wife secretly believes her husband to be a murderer and is also in love with someone else. Nevertheless she stabs her husband with the knife, proving she loves him. Unfortunately, a real knife has been substituted for the toy one and she kills him. Oops. Mistakes happen. It seems impossible that anyone could have switched knives. Luckily, Sir Henry Merrivale is staying nearby, dictating his memoirs, and is called in to solve our impossible crime.

The impossible crime does not seem quite as impossible or as clever as other John Dickson Carr mysteries, but the humor is quite evident as H.M. tells tales of boyhood tricks to his ghostwriter. I would like to read that memoir. Of course, there is the usual Carr romance, so that a couple of characters are automatically eliminated as murder suspects. The solution seems a bit unlikely, but perhaps that is just because I did not figure it out.

Vintage Golden Scavenger 2017-10-19

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Talmage Powell – Start Screaming Murder (1962)

StartScreamingMurder

Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Performer
Date Finished: October 18, 2017

Tampa private investigator Ed Rivers is hired by a scared, beautiful woman, who happens to be a midget, to keep a man away from her. Ed runs into various thugs, creeps, and rich people (also creeps) in his quest, leading him to believe that there is more to the case than a persistent, unwelcome suitor. Turns out there is a missing $500,000 related to a plot to kill an unnamed Cuban leader. (C’mon, it’s Castro.) Despite various beatings, abductions, and shootings, Ed persists.

The fourth of five in this series, this one seems rather uninspired. The world of carny performers, including little people, is touched upon, but only tangentially. That would have been a new and creative setting, but rather we get thugs hiding out in a hotel and on a yacht. The tents on the cover, I suppose, are intended to depict a circus sideshow, but no performer of the type pictured appears in this mystery.

Vintage Silver Scavenger 2017-10-18

Agatha Christie – A Holiday for Murder (1938)

AHolidayforMurder

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Broken Object
TBR #80
Date Finished: October 16, 2017

A very unhappy family of three brothers and their wives gathers for Christmas at the old manor house with their difficult and curmudgeonly invalid father. As commonly happens, a long-lost brother, an unknown niece, and a stranger from South Africa show up as well. The father is slain in a bloody and violent encounter in a locked room. The local police bring in Poirot to investigate.

Perhaps there are too many suspects, or perhaps it is the lack of a sidekick character, but Poirot does not shine in this novel as much as he does in other stories. He does not brag about himself, only shows off his moustaches once, and only complains about British heating systems twice. The Christmas aspect is not emphasized as much as I expected. I was expecting the twist ending and the time element tricks, but I was kicking myself for not taking the time to go back and figure out the murderer. The characters are well drawn, but this does seem a slight work for Christie, though few can measure up to even her slight works.

Vintage Golden Scavenger 2017-10-16

Miles Burton – Death in the Tunnel (1936)

death-in-the-tunnel

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Train
Date Finished: October 15, 2017

A man riding home in the first-class compartment of a train is found shot to death in a locked compartment shortly after the train had slowed down mysteriously in a long tunnel. The engineer claims a red light was present in the tunnel, but this seems impossible. Inspector Arnold and his friend Desmond Merrion investigate whether or not the death was suicide, or if there really could have been a murder in the tunnel.

Miles Burton, aka John Rhode, is considered to be a part of the humdrum school of mystery writers, though this does not necessarily have to be considered a negative. There is very little emotion here, and very little examination of human motive or desire. This is truly a fair-play logic puzzle that the reader walks through with Arnold and Merrion. The entire focus is on how the murder was committed, rather than why. In a lesser writer this may get tedious, but here it is well done and a welcome change of pace from thrillers. No suspense here.

Vintage Golden Scavenger 2017-10-15

Robert Wallace – Murder City (1934)

HighAdventure52

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Telephone
TBR #79
Date Finished: October 14, 2017

A Phantom Detective novel from April 1934, along with two short stories from that issue, comprise this volume of High Adventure #52. The Phantom Detective novel is the usual action-packed pulp hero mystery, though it is much better written than the last one I read. The ghostwriter this time is Jack D’Arcy, aka D.L. Champion, the author of the entertaining Inspector Allhoff short stories, collected in Footprints on a Brain. The Phantom has to face a crime boss (and his gang, of course), who is either erasing people’s memories of a young woman, or if unsuccessful in erasing, is murdering them. It all involves a far-fetched inheritance plan, which I could have told them wasn’t going to work. Fools! Spoiler: The Phantom triumphs.

It is what it is.

Vintage Golden Scavenger 2017-10-14

Rufus King – Somewhere in This House (1929)

SomewhereinThisHouse2

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Damsel in Distress
Date Finished: October 11, 2017

Lt. Valcour is called to upstate New York to investigate some blackmailing. At a isolated house, a servant is shot. Valcour accompanies the doctor and takes on the investigation, just as a snowstorm furthers the isolation. The other residents of the house include a rather awful woman, her trapped husband, and his father. Valcour has to determine if one of these people is the shooter, or if there is a stranger hidden somewhere in the house. A later murder occurs to complicate things.

As other reviewers have pointed out, this one is not completely successful, especially in regard to the plot. King’s strength here is the characterizations, the writing, and the bits of humor. For a plane ride from Chicago to Columbus, though, this all worked well enough to keep me entertained.

Vintage Golden Scavenger 2017-10-11

Nicholas Blake – End of Chapter (1957)

EndofChapter

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Typewriter
Date Finished: October 10, 2017

Nigel Strangeways, private investigator, is brought into a small publishing firm to investigate some anonymous editing changes on a manuscript draft that has led them into a libel case. Among the office workers is a best selling popular novelist who is soon murdered. Based on the timing of the crime and the various locked doors, Nigel has to determine who among the owners and workers had a motive, which naturally is related to some long hidden secret.

The mystery is well constructed and the writing is competent, but it does tend to drag on and on. Nothing terribly clever is revealed, and the best parts, mainly the relationship between Strangeways and his romantic partner, are all too brief. Still, there is a typewriter on the cover.

Vintage Golden Scavenger 2017-10-10