John D. MacDonald – April Evil (1955)

AprilEvilM3138

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

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Lange Lewis – Murder Among Friends (1942)

MurderAmongFriends

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: Where — At a school
TBR #86 (56e, 30p)
Date Finished: July 21, 2019

A young woman takes a secretarial job at the dean’s office of the medical school at a California university. The previous secretary disappeared the previous week, but her body is soon discovered among the medical cadavers in the school lab. An autopsy reveals that she had been slowly poisoned, and also was pregnant. Who among the medical school students with whom she associated, and with whom the new secretary also associates, could be the murder?

An interesting setting with an almost weird horror atmosphere, especially when finding the body among the cadavers and body parts. Perhaps not a classic, but still an entertaining mystery.

Just the Facts Golden 2019-07-21

George Harmon Coxe – Four Frightened Women (1939)

FourFrightenedWomen

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: What — Number in the title
TBR #84 (55e, 29p)
Date Finished: July 13, 2019

Kent Murdock, at a radio/movie comedian’s country estate to take magazine photographs of the actor and his ex-wife, gets slipped a mickey and wakes up to find himself next to the naked body of the now deceased ex-wife. Managing to avoid being discovered there, he has to track down the murderer among the house guests before the cops pin the crime on him.

No sign, or mention, of Kent’s wife in this one, but Jack Fenner is also among the guests and helps find the killer, though Kent isn’t fully honest with him. Having read the later ones in the series first, the amount that Fenner appears in these is surprising. The mystery here is good, though a bit country-houseish. It feels as if Coxe was still shedding some of his pulp roots, though, and not quite up to his later standards.

Just the Facts Golden 2019-07-13

Ngaio Marsh – Night at the Vulcan (1951)

NightattheVulcan

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: When — During a performance of any sort
TBR #82 (54e, 28p)
Date Finished: July 6, 2019

A young actress, fresh from New Zealand and without funds, takes the job as dresser to a star actress. Complicated relationships abound. She also resembles the lead actor greatly, since she is either his second cousin or illegitimate daughter, so soon takes over the stage role of daughter, as well. Meanwhile, the lead actress’ husband dies by gas in his dressing room during the play, causing Alleyn to sniff around backstage, after he quickly rules out suicide.

Marsh does much better with these theatrical mysteries than with the upper crust ones and this one is good. The murder takes some time to occur, but at least the theatrical world is more interesting than the usual tea and crumpets crowd.

Just the Facts Golden 2019-07-06

Arthur W. Upfield – The Sands of Windee (1931)

SandsofWindee

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: Where — Any country but US or UK
TBR #81 (54e, 27p)
Date Finished: July 5, 2019

Napoleon Bonaparte heads to the Australian outback to uncover the whereabouts of a missing man, presumably murdered by persons unknown. The evidence of the crime has been very well hidden, but Bony uses his incredible detective ability to find the clues and evaluate the suspects, as he works on a vast sheep ranch near Windee Station.

The second in this series, this one is another masterpiece of detective fiction with outstanding writing, plotting, and characterization. These are a joy to read.

Just the Facts Golden 2019-07-05

Frances and Richard Lockridge – Death Takes a Bow (1943)

DeathTakesaBow

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: Where — At a Theatre/Circus/other place of performance
TBR #70 (45e, 25p)
Date Finished: June 19, 2019

Jerry North has to introduce a noted author prior to a speech. Just as the introduction is finished, however, the author slumps over dead, poisoned by morphine. Lt. Weigand soon arrives, the only homicide detective in New York, it seems, as he gets to deal with all of the North’s murders. The author’s love life, time in Paris, or youth in Iowa may be motives behind the killing.

Jerry North takes some of the early action here, but soon disappears from the story as Pam gets to demonstrate her incomplete sentences to her visiting nieces and her cats. Pam and her logic are much more featured than they were in Death on the Aisle, just two books previous. Not many suspects with any viable motives or reasonable opportunities are present, nor is much time spent investigating them. Pam decides upon a prime suspect, which is fairly obvious to the reader, and of course goes off to confront them on her own, as the North formula indicates. That conflict is stifled quickly by Weigand before any real suspense can be built. A mediocre entry in this series.

Just the Facts Golden 2019-06-19

Carter Dickson – The Judas Window (1938)

JudasWindow

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: How — Death by knife/dagger/etc.
TBR #67 (44e, 23p)
Date Finished: June 8, 2019

A young man awakens after being drugged to find his prospective father-in-law dead and both of them locked in a sealed room. The dead man appears to have been stabbed with an arrow, on which the young man’s finger prints are found. No one else could have entered the room to stab him, so it is assumed that he will be easily convicted of the crime. Only Sir Henry Merrivale believes in his innocence, leading Merrivale to take the role of defense attorney.

Another outstanding locked-room mystery from John Dickson Carr, with another ingenious solution to the mystery. This one is almost completely told in courtroom scenes, with very little of the humor that appears in later books in this series. A classic.

Just the Facts Golden 2019-06-08