David Alexander – The Murder of Whistler’s Brother (1956)

CanvasDaggerDBCWhislersBrother2

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Any Other Animal
Date Finished: April 18, 2017
Follow the Clues step #25: from Brother to Brother

I was looking forward to reading this one, solely based on the title, but it unfortunately did not live up to expectations. It opens in the middle of the murder trial of a mob lieutenant, aka Joe the Whistler, for the killing of a Broadway impresario. Based on the testimony of Bret Hardin, Broadway newspaper man and the hero of this series, the eyewitness testimony of the witness placing the mobster at the scene of the crime is thrown out and the case dismissed. Supposedly, with the case having advanced so far, double jeopardy is invoked and the mobster could never be tried again. At this point, it is obvious that this is the guilty party and the rest of the mystery is Hardin trying to figure out how he was tricked into his testimony and how to get the Whistler. The Whistler’s brother also dies at one point, justifying the title.

In fact, the whole thing seems to be an exercise trying to fit the story into the pre-determined title. Many characters are thrown in, especially in the first three pages, that I had a tough time remembering who was who. Hardin is supposed to be running a newspaper, but doesn’t seem to worry much about deadlines or responsibilities. And, of course, we know who the murderer is from the beginning, not necessarily intentionally, so it seems a somewhat pointless exercise.

Vintage Golden Scavenger 2017-04-18

Thomas B. Dewey – Run, Brother, Run (1954)

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Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Performer (Dancer)
Date Finished: April 8, 2017
Follow the Clues step #24: from Running to Run

A private detective goes undercover in a prison, taking the place of a dead bank robber, in order to gain the trust of a crime boss and find a treasure in stolen jewels. Tagging along as the gang breaks out of prison, the detective has to avoid the gang’s suspicions, keep them from finding out about his sweetheart, and avoid the police.

Hardboiled, suspenseful, and tightly written, this one was enjoyable, though perhaps not groundbreaking in terms of plotting.

Vintage Golden Scavenger 2017-04-08

Christopher Bush – The Case of the Running Man (1958)

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Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Bird
Date Finished: April 4, 2017
TBR #30
Follow the Clues step #23: from Run to Running

This is the 52nd out of 63 in the Ludovic Travers series, and, as their lack of renown would indicate, it is somewhat mediocre. Travers is a mostly retired well-to-do British private detective, who meets a strange, somewhat blind, old man at a Christie’s auction in London. That man is soon found dead in his country estate, where various family members are attempting to gain his fortune, some of which through forged artworks.

Competent, wordy, inoffensive, unexceptional, and unexciting. A mystery gets solved. Travers has little personality, though some of those involved with the mystery do.

Vintage Golden Scavenger 2017-04-04

Rae Foley – Run For Your Life (1957)

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Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Shadowy or Ghostly Figure
Date Finished: April 1, 2017
Follow the Clues step #22: from Walk(er) to Run

Nora Pendleton, a rich but shy and sheltered young woman, is in love with a charming man who has just been exonerated on a murder charge. The murder took place on the grounds of a country hotel owned by a distant family member. The acquittal reopens the case, and inexplicably requires all of the suspects, all of whom are related, to return to the country hotel. Nora continues to be rather namby-pamby as various family members are suspected and/or killed. Mr. Potter shows up mid-way through as a poor man’s Campion.

The resolution, though unusual, seems somewhat far-fetched and beyond the rules of fair play. I don’t want to give away too much, but hypnosis is involved in creating the alibi for the killer. It did take a while to get into it, but while the action is somewhat slow moving, the characters and setting are well described, and the suspense builds adequately.

Vintage Golden Scavenger 2017-04-01

Donald Hamilton – Night Walker (1954)

NightWalker

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: A Brunette
Date Finished: March 29, 2017
TBR #29
Follow the Clues step #21: from Night to Night

A naval reserve officer, still suffering from some WWII PTSD, on his way to Norfolk after being called up for the Korean War is picked up hitchhiking by a talkative ship designer. It turns out that the ship designer has been blacklisted from his government job for being a Communist. Before reaching their destination, the officer is knocked unconscious and the car wrecked, with him inside. Awaking in the hospital, with his face heavily bandaged, the naval officer is thought to be the ship designer as their suits and identification have been switched. He continues to play along with the switch, as the beautiful young wife of the ship designer soon arrives to take him home. She thinks she has shot and killed the ship designer, so he begins to help her cover that up. Suspicious neighbors, as well as the doctor who is in love with the young wife, are on the scene, as the naval officer tumbles on to a Communist cell communication scheme.

Republished recently in the Hard Case Crime series, there are many reviewers who find this plot implausible. Well, sure, and perhaps the ending is a bit disappointing, but it still is a gripping story with some very flawed characters. Not as brutal as later Hamilton Matt Helm novels, the lead character is perhaps more brutal in his judgement of himself than through his actions on others.

Vintage Golden Scavenger 2017-03-29

William P. McGivern – Night Extra (1957)

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Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Any Piece of Furniture
Date Finished: March 27, 2017
TBR #28
Follow the Clues step #20: from Night to Night

I’ve been looking forward to reading this one for quite some time. I like a good newspaper mystery and enjoyed my brief time working on a paper. Night Extra does not involves a newspaper columnist investigating the murder of a girl who was found in the house of, and alongside of, the drunken reformer candidate for mayor. The tip to the paper from the cop on the scene indicates that there was someone else involved, but this is quickly covered up by the detective in charge. The columnist starts digging deeper into the cover-up, finding a number of respected people involved with the corrupt city administration.

I would have enjoyed more focus on the newspaper operation, but the columnist is largely on his own here. For such a large topic and foe, the novel is relatively short at 169 pages. More depth could have been given to various characters, but it was still an enjoyable read.

Vintage Golden Scavenger 2017-03-27

Popeye: The Great Comic Book Tales of Bud Sagendorf (2010)

Popeye

Date Finished: March 25, 2017
TBR #27

This volume contains a nice introduction and nine Popeye tales from the Dell Popeye series between 1948 and 1957. I probably didn’t need to buy this volume, as I have these stories in other formats, but it is a very nicely packaged sampler. My only complaint is the coloring. Some reviewers have argued that this is an accurate representation of the original Dell coloring, but I feel that Craig Yoe and his designers have upped the white balance so much to make the backgrounds and borders pure white that some of the original depth of the other colors has been lost. The same is true of the IDW series of Popeye Classics Comics.