Octavus Roy Cohen – Love Has No Alibi (1945)

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Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Vintage Mystery Extravaganza category: 2011 #5
Date Finished: January 29, 2020

Architect Kirk Douglas is in love with the female half of a nightclub dance team. She is still married to her dancing partner, however, who will not give her a divorce. Mysteriously a $100,000 has been deposited in Douglas’ bank account, but he has no clue as to its source. Meanwhile a woman he doesn’t know turns up dead in Douglas’ apartment. Also, a wealthy young socialite who has recently been kidnapped turns up at the nightclub and persistently pursues Douglas. Are these strange events tied together in some sort of frame up, and if so, to what purpose?

This is a enjoyable and entertaining mystery, though somewhat far fetched in coincidences if you stop to think. So don’t stop to think. Read and have fun.

Frank Kane – Johnny Liddell’s Morgue (1956)

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Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Vintage Mystery Extravaganza category: 2011 #4
TBR #3
Date Finished: January 25, 2020

Eight Johnny Liddell short stories originally published between 1947 and 1955 are collected here. The stories are well told, but several felt familiar as if they had been reworked into longer Johnny Liddell novels. Several of these stories were first published in Manhunt appropriately as these are not cerebral whodunits, but tough action stories. Good, not great.

Mystery Book Magazine – Summer 1950

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Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Vintage Mystery Extravaganza category: 2011 #3
Date Finished: January 22, 2020

Fredric Brown’s “The Case of the Dancing Sandwiches” anchors this issue of Mystery Book Magazine with short stories by John D. MacDonald and D.L. Champion among others. Brown’s story involves a detective trying to clear a man of murder whose story is related to a New Jersey nightclub that nobody can prove exists. It isn’t as clever as many of Brown’s stories, nor does it have a great setting, but still entertaining. MacDonald’s story “Dead on the Pin” is a bowling-related crime story.

Perhaps the best story here is “Murder in Bright Lights” by Jonathan Joseph and Bryant Ford, two writers with whom I was not familiar. Neither seems to have written much else. This short novel is set on Broadway, with a domineering actor-producer-director slain just after opening night.

 

Stephen Marlowe – Model for Murder (1955)

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Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Vintage Mystery Extravaganza category: 2011 #2
Date Finished: January 20, 2020

Jason Chase, just released from a two-year stretch in prison for a real estate crime committed by his brother, who has also married Jason’s former fiancee, returns to New York and hooks up with an old girlfriend. She’s been working for a sex researcher and steals all the survey responses as a practical joke on her professor boss. Blackmailers find out about this and kill her roommate in order to steal the papers. The brother, sister-in-law, and sister-in-law’s sister are also all involved, causing Jason to start digging into the world of scandal sheets and mobsters.

A good story that was entertaining to read, but not terribly memorable afterward. Adequate.

W.T. Ballard – Murder Can’t Stop (1946)

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Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Vintage Mystery Extravaganza category: 2011 #1
Date Finished: January 19, 2020

Hollywood movie studio troubleshooter Bill Lennox takes his actor friend to a lake resort to have him dry out and pull himself together. The lake resort used by the various Hollywood types is also the home to a small mining town. A Hollywood mogul with whom Bill’s studio is fighting in court turns up dead in Bill’s bed. Convoluted family connections between him and people in the mining town are investigated with many others turning up dead.

The setting is good here, but the breakneck pace at which every suspect is soon murdered with various motives and back stories makes this it difficult to keep characters straight. I do enjoy Ballard’s writing, but this one has too much plot and not enough characterization.

Edward S. Aarons – Assignment Stella Marni (1957)

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Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Vintage Mystery Extravaganza category: #19 Espionage
TBR #2
Date Finished: January 11, 2020

Sam Durrell returns for his fourth adventure, largely centered around New York City, as he investigates Eastern Bloc refugees who now suddenly want to return behind the Iron Curtain rather than stay in the U.S. One in particular, Stella Marni, is the latest who is also involved with his friend Art Greenwald’s brother Frank. Art calls in Sam to investigate, despite the resentment of the F.B.I. to the C.I.A. being involved, including one F.B.I. agent in particular who may have other motives behind his resentment.

Danger, bad guys, beautiful women, suspense — what more could you want? Aarons again writes an exciting, well-made story.

Richard Foster – The Green Lama (1940)

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Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Vintage Mystery Extravaganza category: #2 Supernatural aspects
TBR #1
Date Finished: January 11, 2020

The first Green Lama story from Double Detective magazine, April 1940, was reprinted here in High Adventure #70 (2003), along with other stories from that issue, plus a bonus D.L. Champion story from the December 1938 issue. The supernatural aspects of the Green Lama are not as evident as later adventures, but he uses his ability derived from radioactive salts to do super-human things. I’m not sure that’s the wise course of action in the long run. The other stories are short story fillers with only the D.L. Champion one standing out.