Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Deadlock - Ruth Fenisong

First published 1952; cover shown is the 1966 Collier Books (USA) paperback edition. Cover artist unknown. 191p.

Fenisong's series detective, Lieutenant Gridley Nelson of Homicide, investigates when charming and handsome Glen Williams is found in his apartment - lying on the sofa with a smile on his face and a hole in his chest.

Nelson soon discovers that Glen's charm was surface only. A heroin addict, Glen always seemed to have money - when in fact the little he did have was supplied by his brother. He attracted a wide variety of acquaintances, many of whom stayed in his social sphere only because of the grandiose promises he made for their futures.

Nelson has too many suspects to wade through: Mike, Glen's brother; Betty Conway, Glen's fiancée; Morgan Woodruff, who had been promised a career by Glen; Tom Gaudio, Glen's best friend and secret enemy; Sarah Thrace, a faded Broadway star; and Fred Storch, the superintendent of Glen's apartment building.

Fenisong is skilled at developing characters quickly, which is good as many of the characters disappear for chapters at a time. The solution to Glen's death is ingenious, with all loose ends artfully and satisfyingly explained.

Ruth Fenisong's first mystery novel, Murder Needs a Face, was published in 1942. Her last, The Drop of a Hat, appeared in 1970. She died in 1978.

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