Maid To Murder by Roy Vickers (1950)

When Bruce Habershon came down with a fever, his motherly secretary sends him home to bed with “hot lemon and aspirins.” On the way he picks up some quinine to keep his fever down, then proceeds to dose himself several times in the interim—and starts to feel “pretty fuzzy” about certain events. Along the way he may have picked up Mr. Velfrage from his broken-down car, he may have gotten into brawl with a gang of criminals, seen a body wrapped in an Indian rug, and chased a voluptuous red-headed maid with the intent of killing her. When he wakes up in a hospital ten days later he’s not sure what he remembers, but as it all starts to come back he starts to worry. Mr.  Velfrage is missing and Habersohon may have witnessed a murder. But then he may also be the murderer. 

Roy Vickers is a new author to me, but I’ve found that he was quite prolific. From 1921 to 1965 William Edward Vickers wrote 70 books under the pseudonyms Roy Vickers, Sefton Kyle, David Durham, and John Spencer. 

Vickers plot is more madcap than mystery. The basic premise of Habershon doing all he can to remember the events of that night, while trying to clear his name and hiding from the police was interesting and entertaining. But the culprits are revealed almost immediately, and it began to feel as if Vickers was adding elements just to sustain the story. There is a cursed diamond, an eccentric heiress, a missing lawyer, a body in a safe, poisoning, and a past-his-prime boxer/burgler. Habershon’s hideout is with one of the villains. And two women, who may or may not be part of the gang, would do anything to help our hero. 

Scotland Yard, in the form of Inspector Kyle, gathers all of the suspects for the big reveal, but as we already know the who, there really isn’t much of a surprise. What was something of a surprise was the final outcome, which I can only describe as off kilter. 

A middling read, just a bit too chaotic and overdone. But I’m still interested in taking a look at Vickers again in the future.

My Rating – 3.25/5

Prior Judgments – Bev @ My Reader’s Block

Vintage Mystery Extravaganza—2014 Bingo—Read one book read by a fellow challenger (Bev @ My Reader’s Block)

3 thoughts on “Maid To Murder by Roy Vickers (1950)

  1. I’ve only read some of his short stories and I wasn’t drawn to read more of his work. Whilst I like man in hospital trying to remember if he committed or just witnessed a murder, I’m not sure I would enjoy the manner in which it is executed, based on your description.

  2. Jonathan O

    I think his best work is in the short stories about the Department of Dead Ends, which re-invents the “inverted” genre. In particular, The Rubber Trumpet might be regarded as a classic.

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