Norbert Davis went a little crazy with this one. His Doan & Carstairs adventures are known for madcap humor and wacky characters, but - until Oh, Murderer Mine - they had a least one foot in the real world. This time, particularly in the antics of the secondary characters, Davis takes that second foot off the ground and floats to new heights of wackiness.
For some, this is a bit too far over the top. Personally, I found it a good read, but missed the hard edge lurking beneath Doan’s soft surface, as exhibited so well in the previous novel, Sally’s in the Alley (HERE). Was that over-the-top humor a factor in this being published as a Handi-Book original instead of a Morrow Mystery? I don't know. I also don't know whether this was written before or after tomorrow's novelette, "Cry Murder!"
Still, there’s a lot of fun to be had here, as Doan’s assignment takes him to college. Heloise of Hollywood, an old dame selling age-hiding cosmetics, hires him to prevent college girls from falling in love with her husband, a meteorologist who’s just taken a job at the school. It’s a rough assignment, because Heloise's ad campaign has made her hubby famous as “Handsome Lover Boy.” The idea was to prove that her cosmetics are so good they helped an old lady hook a young hottie.
Doan is working not-so-hard at this task when folks start dying, and he’s caught up in the mess. Among his many problems are a homicide dick hell-bent to prove him guilty of every crime in the book, an ultra-timid department head, a nosy spinster neighbor, a janitor who thinks he’s the world’s greatest detective, a pert young coed quizzing folks about their sex urges, and identical twin teachers who always speak in unison.
And of course there’s Carstairs, who sees more action here than ever before.
This following scene is a fan favorite. (That fan is Mr. Joel Lyczak, whom I know to be a long-time admirer of the series.) Anthropology instructor Melissa Gregory goes undercover in a spa operated by Heloise of Hollywood, taking Carstairs along for protection. Melissa is trying to luxuriate when all hell breaks loose. Guess who's breaking it?
Like the stories of the past three days, the complete text of Oh, Murderer Mine is offered as a free download at Munseys.com. Choose your favorite eFormat HERE.
MONDAY: "Holocaust House" (1940). HERE.
TUESDAY: The Mouse in the Mountain (1943) HERE
WEDNESDAY: Sally's in the Alley (1943) HERE
TODAY: Oh, Murderer Mine (1946)
TOMORROW: "Cry Murder!" The novelette you've waited seventy years to read. (1944) Your wait is dang near over!