Arthur Conan Doyle – The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1905)


Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: When — Set in Victorian Era
TBR #125 (72e, 53p)
Date Finished: December 3, 2019

There are many classic stories here, with the first several very familiar, but many unfamiliar ones as well. The writing is very precise and the stories logically told, which is not always the case with more recent pastiches. One forgets how good a writer Doyle was and how good and enjoyable the original stories are.

Just the Facts Golden 2019-12-03

Richard Ellington – Shoot the Works (1948)


Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: When — During a recognized holiday
TBR #119 (72e, 47p)
Date Finished: November 15, 2019

Private detective Steve Drake is hired by a psychiatrist to supervise a young woman from a wealthy and powerful family who has some issues around sex. He is supposed to play up to her and keep her out of trouble, and keep the family name out of the papers, but some blackmailers are also hanging around, which leads to murder. It all ties up with an earlier murder in Florida, so Steve and others head there from New York City to straighten it all out.

I always enjoy Ellington’s writing and this one moves along nicely. Nominally set around Christmas time, it doesn’t play a big part in the story, other than the cold weather. The mystery and characters are typical hard boiled private eye-story types, but still this is very well done. Entertaining.

Just the Facts Golden 2019-11-15

Ellery Queen – The Tragedy of Z (1933)


Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: Who — Actor/Actress
TBR #112 (69e, 43p)
Date Finished: October 18, 2019

The third published adventure of Drury Lane, retired actor, starts off with much more focus on Inspector Thumm’s daughter Patience, recently returned from being educated in Europe. Her detecting skills get her, her father, and Drury Lane involved with defending a convict accused of murdering a powerful state senator. After they fail and he is imprisoned again, the convict escapes and again is implicated in the death of the senator’s politically connected brother.

The early parts of the story showcasing Patience’s observations and deductions works best, but once Drury Lane takes over the investigation midway through the book, her abilities seem to dwindle and she exhibits more stereotyped feminine characteristics. The story also lacks the cleverness of other Queen works, with the solution somewhat obvious. The characters, other than Patience, are only slightly developed, and Drury Lane seems to have forgotten that he is deaf.

Just the Facts Golden 2019-10-19

Richard and Frances Lockridge – Payoff for the Banker (1945)


Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: Who — A Publisher
TBR #110 (67e, 43p)
Date Finished: October 9, 2019

A young woman finds a murdered man in her newly sub-leased apartment. She, of course, calls in Mr. and Mrs. North before calling the police. The dead man turns out to be the wealthy father who broke up her romance with his son several years before. The apartment had also been previously rented by the wealthy man’s assistant, where he kept a woman who was the mistress of both the wealthy man and the assistant. The Norths hang out at the family’s mansion with Inspector Weigand until Pam stumbles upon the murderer and reveals everything.

A fairly good set-up to the mystery and characters is all resolved again through no detection on Pam’s part, but just bumbling into danger. Jerry is the publisher here, but has little to do, other than interpret Pam’s logic, which is on full display. The eighth book in the series, the formula has been established and this one follows along by the numbers.

Just the Facts Golden 2019-10-09

William Campbell Gault – Fair Prey (1956)


Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: When — During a special event
TBR #104 (64e, 40p)
Date Finished: September 11
, 2019

A likable young golfer, employed at a moderately ritzy California country club, finds the dead body of a disliked young member. As the police are not making much progress, and under suspicion himself, he pokes around various members and motives, all the while preparing for and playing in the San Diego Open tournament.

Gault writes sports very well and does his bit for golf here. The mystery is not really a fair play one, as the final resolution revolves around a hidden memory of our young golfer, but this is still a fun story.

Just the Facts Golden 2019-09-11

Ngaio Marsh – Spinsters in Jeopardy (1954)


Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: When — During trip/vacation/etc.
Date Finished: August 5
, 2019

Inspector Alleyn and family are in the south of France on a vacation/undercover investigation when Alleyn spots a murder taking place in a castle window from his train compartment window. Investigations reveal a strange cult-like drug ring that seems to be smuggling minuscule amounts of drugs at great effort. Alleyn’s wife’s cousin is also involved and has been sending them clues that they haven’t picked up on at all.

A strange story that is very unlike the rest of Marsh’s mysteries, this one is almost a thriller, with no mystery and as much action and suspense as Marsh could muster. It does move along better than most Marsh stories, but there isn’t much substance to it. When your sex cult is a bunch of old spinsters, you’re doing it wrong.

Just the Facts Golden 2019-08-05

John D. MacDonald – April Evil (1955)


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