Monday, November 13, 2006

"Beyond the Shadow of a Dream", by Craig Rice

From: Murder, Mystery, and Malone, edited by Jeff Marks.

Since I mentioned Craig Rice in my introduction, I thought I'd review one of her John J. Malone stories.

Psychiatrist Martin A. Martin has worked with Malone on a few cases, but now he needs some advice. It seems that one of his patients dreamed that he murdered an old woman in her sleep. When he woke the next morning, there was a story in the paper about just such a murder. A few days later, it happened again - the patient dreamed of a murder, then woke to found his dream correct in every detail. And now he's dreamed that he's going to murder Dr. Martin himself.

Malone agrees to look into the situation, but spends most of his time looking at Martin's lovely and talented receptionist, Miss Adams. After taking her out to a nice dinner he ended up back at his place, alone, and was headed for bed when the phone rang. It's Martin, and he's got news. Bad news. "He's on his way here, Malone."

This story is typical of Rice's Malone stories: a straight mystery plot, fairly clued for the most part, with a good-sized dollop of humor on top. Rice's humor is fairly middle of the road, without the outrageous appeal of, say, Robert Leslie Bellem, and relies for effect on Malone's special way with booze, women, and cops - that last being Captain von Flanagan, who continually hopes against hope that if he gives Malone enough rope, the dapper lawyer will hang himself.

This story in particular features one clue so glaringly obvious that even I caught it, plus a couple that were more subtle (and escaped my attention), and it adds up to a fun read if you're in the mood for some old-fashioned fun.

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