NOT to put too fine a point on it, ‘mysteries’ might be defined as stories, long or short, having to do with crime and criminals. In the Teeth of the Evidence, by Dorothy Sayers (Harcourt, Brace, $2.50), is a collection of short stories which will prove mildly disappointing to those addicts who like their Lord Peter Wimsey in large doses. There are some excellent stories in the book, ‘Blood Sacrifice,’ ‘Nebuchadnezzar,’ and ‘The Cyprian Cat,’ for example, which haven’t a drop of Wimsey in them.
Flight, by Arthur Omre (Appleton-Century, $2.50), describes the ineffectual efforts of an escaped Norwegian prisoner to return to a normal life. Despite a gratifying success in the fish business, the escapist fails to make his getaway. The fish business fails; so do his nerves, and he is led away manacled. It is all very distant and Scandinavian.
The Patience of Maigret (Harcourt, Brace, $2.00) is the first of a series by the French author Georges Simenon. There are two novelettes in the volume, and they bear out the publishers’ assertion that the author, if as prolific as Edgar Wallace, is a better and more convincing writer of detective fiction than the Englishman ever was. His stories are careful and well constructed, and are based on a knowledge of police and detective work in France. He might well become a habit in this country.
The best of this month’s mysteries is, by all counts, Hugger-Mugger in the Louvre, by Elliot Paul (Random House, $2.00). This wild and genial yarn concerns the further adventures of Homer Evans, who first appeared in The Mysterious Mickey Finn. Mr. Evans, a well-nigh omniscient American, resident in Paris, has — along with a slight aroma of Philo Vance - more brains than all the Paris police force put together. True, the other characters are slightly or quite haywire, and the story of the theft of a Watteau from the Louvre and the substitution of a murdered corpse for the mummy of a Pharaoh is adventure with agreeably heavy overtones of burlesque. This is recommended reading for those who do not take their mysteries too seriously.