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Murder at BYU: A finding guide to and annotated bibliography of murder mysteries in the Harold B Lee Library at BYU involving universities, colleges, professors and/or students: Part I: 1920-1940

An annotated bibliography of professor-, student-, college- or university-based murder mystery fiction or literature in the Harold B Lee Library (HBLL) at BYU.

Colleges, Universities or Professors in Murder Mystery Fiction, Part I: 1920-1940

[See Kramer in the "Reference and Analysis" section above to find complete abstracts and other details at the pages noted at the end of the entries; quotations in this section are from Kramer.  Titles below, listed in chronological order, are available at the Lee Library (call numbers in bold).]

1.  Converse, Florence.  Into the Void:  A Bookshop Mystery, Boston:  Little, Brown, 1926.  PS 3505 O537 I58 1929.  "The night after he reads some of his work at a bookshop in the New England Town of 'Hawthorne', the noted poet Paul Slocombe disappears.  Also missing is attractive Patience Farwell, the bookshop's manager ... several members of [the shop's] board of directors are associated with 'Dickinson College', a nearby school for women...  Among the aspiring sleuths are Miss Armitage, Dickinson's president and Isabel Carter, Dickinson's Masefield Professor of Poetry."  No infor on author.  (Kramer, entry #3, p 2.)

2.  Davidson, TL.  The Murder in the Laboratory.  New York:  Dutton, 1929.  PS 3507 A682 M87 1929.  "Set at an unidentified British university ... begins with the death of Walter Sheppary, a research fellow in toxicology [who] expires in his laboratory after consuming cyanide.  His body is found by Dr Martin Blythe, one of the unviersity's most distinguished junior scientists, and by George Wroxham, a medical student. ...Detective Inspector Mellison of Scotland yard is soon on the scene [and] Dr Blythe, Wroxham and Mellison then engage in sleuthing..."  Scotsman Davidson was a graduate of Cambridge University and a long-time professor of biochemistry at McGill University. (Kramer entry #7, pp5-6.)

3.  Orr Clifford.  The Dartmouth Murders, New York:  Farrar and Rinehart, 1929.  PS 3529 R63 D37 1929.  ""Three Dartmouth students are killed ... as a result of steel needles that are mysteriously fired into their skulls ...[Joseph Harris], the father of the undergraduate narrator and [a Dartmouth alum], is a lawyer who writes mystery novels as a hobby; [he] is asked by Dartmouth's president to become the school's temporary detective-in-residence."   Orr himself is a Dartmouth alum and was an editor at The New Yorker. (Kramer, entry #9, pp 7-8.)

4.  Van Dine, SS.  The Bishop Murder Case, New York:  Scribner's, 1929.  PS 3545 R846 P37 1929.  "Professor Bertand Dillard, one of the world's great mathematical physicists [shares] his abode with Belle Dillard, his attractive young niece, and Sigurd Arnesson, his adopted son.  Arnesson, nearing forty, is associate professor of mathematics at Columbia.  The story begins with the murder (by bow and arrow) of Joseph Robin, a young playboy and one of Belle's acquaintances ... Called into the case is Philo Vance, [a] detective who  is one of Professor Dillard's students.  Vance unmasks the killer [and] as clues pile up, readers learn a great deal about the dark secrets that underlie the seemingly placid professorial lives of Dillard and Arnesson."  The author attended St Vincent and Pomona Colleges and completed graduate work in English at Harvard. (Kramer, entry #10, p 8.)

5.  Fitzsimmons, Cortland.  70,0000 Witnesses:  A Football Mystery, New York:McBride, 1931.  808.839 F584s JUVENILE COLLECTION.  "'State College' is an American football powerhouse and Walter Demuth is its star halfback. ... 70,000 spectators pack the stadium [to watch] Demuth lead his team to victory.  Demuth performs in his usual stellar fashion until, late in the contest, he falls dead while scoring a touchdown.  Was his sudden collapse the result of a heart attack, or was it murder?  An autopsy is inconclusive and Jack Kethridge, a local police detective, [re-enacts] the sequence of plays that let to Walter's fatal run.  At the end of the mock scrimmage, Rudolpho Cannero, Demuth's stand-in, falls dead as he strides into the end zone... and not until the very end of the story does Detective Ketheridge discover the method by which Demuth and Cannero were killed...".  Fitzsimmons was in publishing sales and attended NYU and City College of New York. (Kramer entry #11, pp 8-9.)

6.  Propper, Milton.  The Student Fraternity Murder, Indianapolis:  Bobbs-Merrill, 1932.  PS 3531 R83 S78 1943.  "Stuart Jordon, a student at the 'University of Philadelphia', is murdered by poison while being initiated into a fraternity.  Tommy Rankin, a Philadelphia police  dectective ... handles the investigation. ...[This mystery] is noteworthy as an early-day police procedural [and] it also offers considerable insight into fraternity life in the 1930s...".  Propper was a federal civil servant who earned a law degree from University of Pennsylvania. (Kramer entry #16, pp 12-13.)

7.  Masterman, JC.  An Oxford Tragedy, London:  Gollancz, 1933. American edition:  New York Dover, 1981. PR 6025 A796 O9 1981.   "The dons of 'St Thomas College', Oxford, gather in the common room after an especially amusing dinner with Ernst Brendel, a visiting lawyer-criminologist from Vienna.  One by one the dons drift away until only Brendel and Francis Winn, vice president of St Thomas' are left chatting over cigars. Then Dean Maurice Hargreaves bursts in,[claiming someone shot an unpopular classics professor in Hargreaves' room which] plunges St Thomas' into what eventually becomes a murder suicide, and thrusts Brendel and Winn into one of the most carefully written and purely academic mysteries to appear in [Kramer]. Eight dons emerge as suspects, as do Callendar (the college butler) and several of the colleges undergraduates. ... Jacques Barzan and Wendell H Taylor in A Catalogue of Crime call An Oxford Tragedy a 'masterpiece' and it would be difficult to quarrel with that evaluation. The book is rich with Oxford atmosphere ...".  Masterman received a BA and MA from Worcester College, Oxford, and taught at Christ Church, Oxford, until retirement in 1947.  (Kramer entry #19, pp 15-16.) 

8.  Morrah, Dermot.  The Mummy Case, London:  Faber and Faber, 1933.  US edition:  The Mummy Case Mystery, New York:  Harper, 1933. PR 6025 O731 M85 1933. "After a fire destroys most of the bursary at 'Beaufort College', Oxford, the charred remains of a body are found in the rooms of Professor Peter Benchley.  Is the body that of Benchley or is it that of a mummy the professor was seen examining in his bedroom only hours before the conflagration?  In a burst of pure academic democracy, the fellows of Beaufort vote to declare that the body is Benchely's but Denys Sargent and Humphrey Carver, two of the college's junior [faculty] members, decide to conduct further inquiries ...".  Morrah received an MA in 1921 from New College, Oxford, and had a career with several London newspapers.  (Kramer entry #20, pp 16-17.)

9.  Frome, David.  Mr Pinkerton Finds a Body, New York:  Farrar and Rinehart, 1934.  PS 3503 R799 M575 1934.  "Sir William Brame, a millionaire clothing manufacturer, is shot dead one evening on Trul Street, just outside the gates of 'St Jude College', Oxford.  The case is investigated by blustery Inspector J Humphrey Bull of Scotland Yard and by his unofficial assistant Evan Pinkerton , a timid little man with an extraordinary talent for sleuthing. ... Exceedingly rich with Oxford atmosphere.  Careful descriptions are provided both of the university and of the commerical portions of the city. ...".  Frome is a pseudonym for Zenith Jones Brown, who also used the pseudonym Leslie Ford. (Kramer entry #25, p 21.)

10.  Sayers, Dorothy.  Gaudy Night, London:  Gollancz, 1935; New York:  Harcort, Brace and Co, 1936.  PR 6037 A95 G28 1936.  "Mystery writer Harriet Vane has recently been acquitted of a murder.  Her nerves jangled from the experience, she is therefore responsive to an invitation to attend a presumably pleasant reunion at 'Shrewsbury College', the Oxford women's college that is her alma mater.  During her stay in Oxford, Vane receives several threatening notes.  When she returns to London, she is contacted by the administration of Shrewsbury and asked to return to Oxford in order to investigate various other ominous happenings ..."  There is also a BBC/WGBH TV (PBS) movie version by the same title.  A former advertising copy writer, Sayers went to great acclaim as a poet, playwright, editor, screen and radio writer, historian of mystery fiction, and expert on medieval culture.  (Kramer entry #30, pp 24-25.) 

11.  Fuller, Timothy.  Harvard Has a Homicide, Boston:  Little, Brown & Co, 1936  Published in England as J is for Juniper, London:  Collins, 1937.  PS 3511 U68 H27 1936.  "Professor Singer, an art historian, is stabbed dead in his room at Hallowell House at Harvard, and the person who finds his body is 'Juniper' Jones one of his graduate students. ... Jones finds that Professor Singer's murder is linked to art theft and plagiarism. ...".  A Harvard drop-out, Fuller had a career in writing advertising copy.  (Kramer entry #33, pp 26-27.)

12.  Innes, Michael.  Death at the President's Lodging, London:  Gollancz, 1936.  Published in the US as Seven Suspects, New York:  Dodd, Mead & Co, 1936.  PR 6037 T466 S32 1937.  "...set at 'St Anthony's College', Oxbridge, and the crime in the story is the late-night murder of Josiah Umpleby, St Anthony's president. ... Oxford-educated Inspector John Appleby arrives from London to investigate and he discovers that several of St Anthony's dons [deans] had sufficient motive, as well as the opportunities, for ending President Umpleby's life. ...".  Innes' real name is John Innes Mackintosh Stewart and received a BA (honors) from Oriel College, Oxford, and taught at various British and Australian universities, ultimately retiring from Christ Church, Oxford, in 1973.  (Kramer entry #34, pp27-28.)

13.  Steel, Kurt.  Murder Goes to College, Indianapolis:  Bobbs-Merrill, 1936.  PS 3521 A19 M83 1936.  "...'Chelsea College' [is] a high-prestige, private school in New York City.  The murder is the shooting of Thomas Kelly a Chelsea professor of mathematics [who] was using his still in addition and subtraction to moonlight as a financial consultant to Strike Fusil, a notorious Harlem racketeer.  ... Among the suspects are [a] chancellor, [a] dean, [a] professor of English and [a] professor of psychology ... .  Real-life college teachers will savor the portrait of Dean James [who] is systematically looting Chelsea's treasury ...".  Steel's real name is Rudolph Hornaday Kagey and was a graduate of the University of Illinois and Columbia University, and until his death in 1946 was a member of the philosophy department at Washington Square College of NYU.(Kramer entry #37, pp 31-32.)

14.  Miller, John.  Murder of a Professor, New York:  Putnam, 1937.  PS 3525 I5457 M87 1937.  "The  professorial victim referred to in  he title is Ellsworth Owen, a member of the chemistry department of a large, unidentified American university.  After years of suffering from slowly spreading cancer, Professor Owen apparently takes his own life with an overdose of painkiller.  Sergeant Fogerty of the Homicide Squad is not content to rule out foul play [and his] investigation not only establishes that the professor was murdered but it also leads to the identification of his killer. ..." .  Miller's real name was Joseph Samachson, who earned a BS from Rutgers and a PhD in chemistry from Yale, spent most of his life as a bench chemist in industry but ultimately accepted a position teaching biochemistry at Loyola University of Chicago in  1968. (Kramer entry #40, pp 33-34.)

15.  Owens, Hans.  Ways of Death.  New York:  Green Circle Books, 1937.  PS 3529 W353 W28 1937.  "It is 'Tap Day' at an American university that very much resembles Yale.  Bob Somers, a junior, confidently expects to be offered membership in one of the the institution's most prestigious secret societies, and his father, Judge Albert Somers, has come from New York City to witness the great event.  Bob gets the cherished invitation but even as the selection ceremonies are taking place outside in the quadrangle, Judge Somers is shot dead in Bob's dormitory room.  The local police quickly identify Johnny Redfield, a campus security guard, as the judge's probable killer.  However, when Redfield is murdered the police admit their bewilderment, and President Davenport asks Percival Trout, dean of the univeristy's school of psychology, to pick up the threads of the case. ...".   No author info.  (Kramer entry #41, pp34-35.)

16.  Cole GDH and Margaret Cole.  Off With Her Head! London:  Collins, 1938; US edition New York:  MacMillan 1939.  PR 6005 O26 O33 1939.  "The severed head of a woman is delivered in a biscuit tin to the room of an Oxford undergraduate.  When it rested atop its body the head was the property of a shady lady-of-the-town whose charms had been shared with many members of the Oxford academic community.  Called into assist the local police with their inquiries is Tom Fairford, a young, bachelor Scotland Yard inspector.  Fairford has no shortage of suspects.  ..."  George Douglas Howard Cole was a graduate of Balliol College, Oxford, an economist until his death in 1959. His wife, Margaret, a graduate of Girton College, Cambridge, was a political activist; her brother, Raymond Postgate, was also a mystery writer.  (Kramer entry #42, p 35.)

17.  Bayne, Spencer.  Murder Recalls Van Kill, New York:  Harper and Brothers, 1939.  PS 3503 A98 M87 1939.  "Independently wealthy, Dr Cameron, a professor of Biblical Literature and langauge at 'Brampton University' in upstate New York, has a brilliant adolescent son named Edward [who] requires an enriched education in order to realize his full potential, so Professor Cameron hires Hendrick 'Hal' Van Kill, an erudtie but employed archaeologist to serve as Edward's live-in tutor.  [Cameron] resides in a secluded mansion near the Brampton campus and his household includes four attractive female student-boarders with whom he has more than the usual landlord-renter relationship.  One of the young ladies is found dead in the mansion's garden ...  and then [Cameron] is seriously injured when he apparently falls down a long flight of stairs.  Fearful of negative publicitiy, the university authorities work with the local coroner to have the young woman's death ruled a suicide and the professor's fall an accident.  However, Hal Van Kill knows better ...".  Spencer Bayne is the psyedonym of Floyd Albert Spencer and Paula Tersea Bayne Spencer; he received a PhD in classics from the Unviersity of Chicago and taught at 4 American universities. (Kramer entry #45, p 38.)

18.  Patrick, Q and Hugh Callingham Wheeler.  Death and the Maiden, New York:  Simon and Schuster, 1939.  PS 3531 A792 D42 1939.  "This intricate, clue-crammed story is set at 'Wentworth College', an institution in the New York City area.  When Grace Hough, a Wentworth undergraduate, is found dead of a 'severe blow' to the back of her head, Lieutenant Timothy Trant of the New York Homicide Squad is put in charge of the case.  Miss Hough was blackmailing her professor of French, but as Trant learns after considerable sleuthing, the professor was not the only person on the Wentworth campus who wants to extinguish her life ...".  Q Patrick is a psuedonym for Richard Webb Wilson; Wheeler took an honors degree in English from the University of London before moving to the US and becoming involved in pharmaceutical sales.  The Webb-Wheeler collaboration lasted nearly twenty years. (Kramer entry #47, pp 40-41.)

19.  McCloy, Helen.  The Man in the Moonlight.  New York:  William Morrow, 1941.  PS 3525 A1587 M25 1940.  '"Yorkville University' in New York City is in a state of turmoil.  Professional jealousies and domestic difficulties are tearing apart its faculty.  Nazi spies are skulking between its buildings.  Evil capitalists are trying to ursurp for themselves the profits from scientific breakthroughs made in the school's laboratories  And the institution's finances are in such poor condition that faculty salaires have just been reduced ...[C]orpses of murdered faculty members and their spoucse begin turning up on and near campus.  Dr Basil Willing, a prominent New York psychiatrist who happens to be a Yorkville graduate ... is asked to help investigate the killings ...".  McCloy was a newspaper writer and wrote for the Sunday New York Times.  She began writing detective fiction in 1938. (Kramer entry #51, pp 43-44.)

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