Thursday, February 6, 2014

DOAN & CARSTAIRS WEEK - DAY 4: Oh, Murderer Mine (1946)

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 Choose your favorite eFormat HERE

Here's what's happening during DOAN & CARSTAIRS Week::
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!


Rittster said...

A shame this book didn't become more popular in its day. I would have loved to have seen it made into one of those zippy, low-budget mystery-comedies of the 30s and 40s--something along the lines of Jonathan Latimer's Bill Crane series that Preston Foster starred in, or Craig Rice's Having A Wonderful Crime, starring Pat O'Brien. Come to think of it, I bet the Coen brothers could make a pretty nifty flick out of any of the Doan-Carstairs series. They could make Sally's In The Alley with the edge of a Fargo, or do up Oh, Murderer Mine with the out-and-out wackiness of Burn After Reading. They've even got the perfect actor to play Doan: that roly-poly little guy who appeared in Miller's Crossing, The Big Lebowski, and any number of their movies--Jon Polito (they'd just have to get him to quiet down a little; he's usually pretty hyper and high-strung). for thought. Joel and Ethan, are you listening?

Evan Lewis said...

Yes, 'twould be a good movie. I got an email from a film guy a year or so ago asking if there were old books I thought would make good movies. I suggest the Doan & Carstairs books and gave him links to get them. Didn't hear from him again. Too bad.

Shay said...

So, where can we find "Dead Little Rich Girl?"

Evan Lewis said...

Dead Little Rich Girl was just a retitling of The Mouse in the Mountain. Why, I have no idea. Handi-Books were often abridged. I don't know if this one was or not.