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Mystery Monday – Trial by Fury

Trial by Fury by Craig Rice

Review by Thomas F. (hardtack)

 

My copy of this book is a 1957 first edition paperback which includes the statement “Number 2 of the Dell Great Mystery Library” on the cover. This statement is well-earned as the story was engrossing and a hoot to boot. I forget where I read that Craig Rice wrote entertaining mysteries, but I found my copy at a local, used book store. Apparently, Rice had a reputation for writing excellent murder mysteries that were also humorous.

In this novel, fifth of a series, a big city couple go to rural Wisconsin to do some fishing. The murder of a state politician is committed in plain sight in the court house where they stop to get a fishing license. Unfortunately for them, the victim rolls down the stairs and literally ends up dead at their feet. As strangers they are suspected as the murderers, as obviously no one in this small, close-knit town would ever do such a terrible thing. Although it was the first murder to occur in in 32 years, the town is getting ready to make up for it. The next three days see three more murders and, like today, the town begins to fill up with reporters from the major radio stations and newspapers from far and wide.

Apparently, the central character in the series is a somewhat alcoholic, big city lawyer by the name of John J. Malone. The couple is friendly with Malone, as he helped them avoid jail for other murders they were accused of.  (Hmmmmm….) So they give him a call to rush right up from Chicago. Malone is torn between solving the mystery and getting back to Chicago as quickly as he can. Fortunately, it is not necessary to read the series in order to appreciate the story or understand the characters. I felt I fully understood the characters as they were introduced, and Craig provides other necessary information about their personalities and relationship within the story.

Craig Rice was one of the names that Georgiana Ann Randolph Craig wrote under, while another is George Sanders. Craig once rivaled Agatha Christie in sales and was on the cover of Time Magazine in 1946. She died in 1957.

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One Response to “Mystery Monday – Trial by Fury”

  1. Matt B. (BuffaloSavage) says:

    Craig Rice was the first mystery writer ever to grace the cover of Time Magazine. Cover is here

    http://www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,19460128,00.html

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