Last Update 5/15/21 

Black Flamingo by Victor Canning, Berkley, 1962  

After having his pilot licenses suspended in a frame-up, the protagonist finds a man dying in the jungle and takes over his identity in order to get a job as a pilot. But the dead man had been transporting stolen diamonds and there are a number of parties who know that he is an imposter and who also want to know what happened to the gems. He decides to steal them himself, but is dissuaded after a series of mild adventures by the woman he loves. About average for the author. 5/15/21

A Wreath for Rivera by Ngaio Marsh, Jove, 1949   

Aka Swing Brother Swing.  An inane nightclub act which involves a fake shooting turns bloody when someone seemingly puts a dart in the weapon which is driven by the explosion of the blank and kills a rather despicable character in a front of an audience that includes Inspector Alleyn – the second time he has been an actual witness to a murder. I didn’t much care for this one. The movements of the major characters are so complex and so chaotically described that it is nearly impossible to follow them – and it turns out that they are completely irrelevant to the solution. One major piece of information – that the victim could not have been shot in the chest because he was playing the accordion and that part of his body was hidden – is not revealed until the end. 5/14/21

Invasion of the Clones by Joseph Rosenberger, Pinnacle, 1976 

The Death Merchant goes full SF in this installment. Another ex-Nazi and a brilliant but insane scientist have developed a way to clone humans and mature them within weeks. They plan to breed an army with which to conquer South Africa. The Death Merchant is sent to stop them but before he does, he has to defeat five clones of himself, each with all of his abilities. He does so with rather disappointing ease, kills almost everyone else in the story, and helps a rebel group overthrow the government and install a more rational leader. Less bloody action than usual. 5/14/21

The Mystery of the Banana Plantation by G.H. Teed, Stillwoods, 2019 (originally published in 1915) 

A man buys a banana plantation on an island in Costa Rica, but when he arrives, he finds another “owner” in residence and is told that his bills of sale and other papers were either forgeries or worthless. He flees the country when someone tries to kill him and tells his story to Sexton Blake. Blake disguises himself as the frustrated entrepreneur and returns to ferret out the truth and prove that this was all just a swindle. One of the two villains he confronts is his old enemy, Huxton Rymer. Above average for Teed.

Miss Seeton Draws the Line by Heron Carvic, Farrago, 2017 (originally published in 1969.)

The second Miss Seeton novel further establishes the fact that her sketches reflect some psychic power. There is a serial child killer in the area, and she has trouble completing a sketch of one of the local people. There is also a gang that has been terrorizing public events and a team of thieves who have been robbing post offices and committing burglaries. There is obviously going to be a link there, but there is also a quite separate line about an embezzler who thinks Miss Seeton is on to him. Light humor mixes with some pretty grim stuff in this one. Another child is murdered and a police officer is seriously injured. The characters introduced in the first novel mostly reappear. This is shaping up to be a very enjoyable series. 5/11/21

A Delivery of Furies by Victor Canning, Berkley, 1961 

Canning’s protagonists are often not very nice people and this is a good example. Marchant is willing to commit piracy and even kill someone if necessary in order to raise enough money to retire with his girlfriend and buy a small hotel. The cargo is six military airplanes which are desired by rebels on a fictional Caribbean island nation. But he is double-crossed and his money stolen, and he detects schisms within the revolutionaries that could have serious repercussions. It was difficult to care about the success or failure of such a miserable person. 5/10/21

Delay on Turtle by Victor Canning, Heineman, 1962.   

One novella and two novelettes. After a plane crash, the survivors are taken temporarily to a small island while the rescue boat is repaired, and murder follows. A man is hired to marry a young woman, after which he is almost murdered to get him out of the way. He survives and returns to free the woman, with whom he has fallen in love, from an uncle who wanted to steal her inheritance. The third and shortest of the three involves diamond smuggling in Africa. These were all quite good. 5/10/21

Died in the Wool by Ngaio Marsh, Berkley, 1948  

Psychology is a major factor in this pretty good murder mystery. A domineering woman disappears and is found weeks later in a bale of wool. Half a dozen people had opportunity and perhaps motive. One of the suspects has a perfect alibi that is clearly false, but this red herring never really works. Two of the characters are working on a military development – the story takes place during the war – and someone is stealing their plans. The butler is actually a government agent set to watch over them. Inspector Alleyn only shows up a year later, but is still able to figure things out in a matter of days. There are a couple of details I found unconvincing and I guessed the killer immediately – Marsh portrays him as vaguely unsavory, perhaps unconsciously.  5/9/21

The Lumber Looters by G.H. Teed, Stillwoods, 2019 (originally published in 1926) 

A straightforward and quite pleasant Sexton Blake mystery/adventure. Blake is in Canada when he meets a young woman who is trying to keep her late father’s lumber business going, despite the fact that expenses are exceeding income. The reader already knows that the man managing her business for her is crooked because we read the prologue. Blake, along with an enemy from the villain’s past, show up in time to prevent her from losing the business. 5/8/21

The Iron Swastika Plot by Joseph Rosenberger, Pinnacle, 1976 

The Death Merchants has to kill a lot more Nazis in this one. He and a secretive group called the Spider are in a race to recover looted valuables from a submarine that sank off the coast of Argentina in the waning days of the war. Naturally the bad guys know that he’s on the trail and there are multiple ambushes involving machine guns and multiple assailants, none of whom have a chance against our hero. There is even a hint that he may have some kind of occult awareness of imminent death that allows him to know when he is about to be shot at. 5/7/21

The Burning Eye by Victor Canning, Crest, 1960 

A freighter with serious troubles puts into a remote harbor in Somalia for repairs, but instead sinks, taking most of the crew with it. A handful of passengers and the ship’s doctor survive and are given shelter by the local Italian administrator – the area was a UN protectorate – but a local sultan who hates foreigners has other ideas. An American engineer has just discovered an oil field and the sultan figures that this will give him the means to declare independence, but he needs to eliminate the witnesses if he wants to keep it a secret long enough for it to be effective. Rather slow moving until the closing chapters. 5/6/21

Vengeance of the Golden Hawk by Joseph Rosenberger, Pinnacle, 1976   

The Death Merchant infiltrates an Arab terrorist group that has a missile loaded with nerve gas which they plan to use to wipe out Tel Aviv, and probably start World War III when the Israelis retaliate with nuclear weapons. Except that it is never explained against whom they would retaliate and why that would spark a world war. In any case, the story is mostly about gunfights, against prison guards in Jordan, security forces in Syria, internecine battles among the various terrorist groups, and eventually between the Death Merchant, who has picked up a couple of friends, and the VGH group itself. The missile is destroyed and the terrorists are mostly dead by the end of the book. 5/5/21

Colour Scheme by Ngaio Marsh, Berkley, 1943

This one takes place at a rundown health spa in New Zealand where one of the residents is suspected of signaling sailing information to the Germans. The murder does not take place until three quarters of the way through, and Roderick Alleyn only appears in the second half, and even then we aren’t told that one of the other guests is Alleyn in disguise – although it’s pretty obvious. The supposed spy is boiled alive in a mud pool and there are a variety of reasons why different people would want to kill him. There’s not much detection because it doesn’t start until the final forty pages. I found a couple of the characters too exaggerated to be believable. 5/3/21

The Dragon Tree by Victor Canning, Award, 1958 

The protagonist is an army officer assigned to oversee the involuntary exile of two rebel leaders on a tiny island in the Mediterranean. Unbeknownst to him a team of mercenaries is on the island, and they plan to liberate the prisoners and take the local British governor as a hostage. With a small number of less than quality troops, Major Richmond is not in a good position to block their plans even if he was to become aware of them. Like many of Canning’s heroes, Richmond is not a particularly likeable person. He is arrogant to the local people but polite to the prisoners. There are also a couple of marital infidelities to complicate matters. Canning includes a nice twist in the second half, but for the most part the story is rather predictable.  5/2/21

The Dartmouth Murders by Clifford Orr, Coachwhip, 2016 (originally published in 1929)

The Wailing Rock Murders by Clifford Orr, Coachwhip, 2016 (originally published in 1932) 

These were the only two mystery novels by this early practitioner, and while they show some promise, they are technically not very well done. The first involves the murder of a college student, rather ineptly designed to look like a suicide. The father of one of the other students is a talented amateur investigator, but there is a second murder almost immediately, which complicates matters. Eventually the truth comes out, but the process is awkwardly described and the dialogue often clunky and unrealistic. The killer’s identity is not well concealed. The second title is a bit more interesting, a variation of the Old Dark House subset of mystery fiction. Murders take place in two mansions in Maine which are nearly identical and in close proximity. The killer is obviously lurking about and the lives of the protagonists are in constant danger. A somewhat better plot, but still awkward in spots.  5/1/21

Forestalled by G.H. Teed, Stillwoods, 2020 (originally published in 1930) 

Sexton Blake is approached by a Canadian who wants help accessing the top of a rocky, offshore island where he believes a pirate treasure has been concealed. This involves a trek through the woods during which one of the hired men mysteriously disappears. The treasure hunter himself – who has begun to display less than admirable traits – disappears a short time later. Blake and Tinker find him tied to the top of the rock where he is threatened by a horde of carnivorous crabs. It turns out that he swindled a woman who has taken elaborate revenge. 4/30/21

Black Spaniard Creek by G.H. Teed, Stillwoods, 2019 (originally published in 1931)  

Having avenged herself on the men who swindled her family, Roxanne Harfield has given up her life of crime. But past deeds have repercussions when some of those men escape prison and come looking for her. Fortunately she has Sexton Blake to help her fend them off, although some of them remain free, presumably to return in another story. Below average. 4/29/21

The Mato Grosso Horror by Joseph Rosenberger, Pinnacle, 1975  

The Death Merchant is after more Nazis, this time in Brazil, and once again his cover is blown by a double agent in the CIA. This happens about every second book. They have to fight their way through hundreds of drug controlled warriors, a helicopter, deadly spiders, and German security guards to reach the hidden base. There they discover that the Nazis have created hideous mutants with superhuman powers, but they have enough firepower to wipe out the tribe, the Germans, and the mutants in various explicitly described ways. The series would adopt a variety of SF tropes in the years that followed. 4/28/21

The Forbidden Road by Victor Canning, Perma, 1957

Aka The Manasco Road. In Spain, the protagonist and his partner purchase the cargo from a foundered ship as salvage. Unfortunately, a powerful businessman owns the only access road to the beach, and he erects a fence and gate and refuses to allow them to use it because he thinks they took advantage of his protégé. Actually, the young man is just a screw up blaming others for his failures. He also pressures the local police and everyone who owns a boat to prevent the partners from removing the cargo by sea. When that doesn’t work, they frame him for smuggling, but he breaks out of jail, breaks down the gate, removes the cargo with a caravan of trucks, and confronts his enemy, who shoots him in the shoulder. This would have been better if the protagonist hadn’t been a pretty dislikable person, although his opponents are generally worse. 4/27/21

Blackmail! by G.H. Teed, Stillwoods, 2020 (originally published in 1930)

Roxanne Harfield has ruined all but one of her enemies and when Sexton Blake confronts her, she reveals that she has lost interest in finding the last man. They both discover that they are mutually attracted, but for some reason Blake insists that romance would ruin his career as a detective. In any case, the last man on her list has found them instead and – even without Photoshop – he has managed to fake a compromising photograph which he plans to publish in his newspaper. So Blake kidnaps the villain and abandons him in some primitive location so that his businesses will collapse. He also destroys the false photographs. Questionable legality in this one. 4/26/21

Death and the Dancing Footman by Ngaio Marsh, Berkley, 1941  

A dilettante invites a group of people to a weekend party, carefully choosing people who hate each other. There are estranged relatives, business rivals, thwarted lovers, and a woman deformed by botched surgery and the surgeon who was responsible. After two apparently botched attempts to murder one of the guests, a third attempt successfully kills his brother – by means of a mechanical device. This is promptly followed by suicide. One of the other guests is the obvious chief suspect, which means that he is not guilty. There is, however, another red herring that is quite successful. The mechanics of the actual murder are a bit too complex and are not entirely clear from the text, but the motive is a quite subtle one. 4/23/21

City of the Flaming Shadows by Norvell Page, Berkley, 1961  (originally published in 1934) 

The fourth adventure of the Spider, a crime fighting pulp hero. This time the villains have come up with a plan to rob banks by first bribing someone to cut the power to the area. For some reason, our hero concludes that this is a threat to the entire nation and makes their apprehension his top priority. He and the villains somehow almost always know what the other is up to and the Spider even causes the death of bystanders this time. The villain mysteriously calls himself the Tarantula, but apparently only because it sounds scary. Weakest of the first four novels. 4/23/21

Death on the Campus by Addison Simmons, Coachwhip, 2018 (originally published in 1935) 

Although this starts reasonably well – a professor is found shot dead in his office – the inferior writing drags it down well before halfway. Some of the characters just do not act the way human beings would do in a given situation. A second murder complicates matters. The solution involves an entirely new set of characters and motives – a gang war in the city and a member of a crime family using a false identity – and the revelation comes out of thin air. The incredible climax involves a college professor with a machinegun killing fifteen prominent mobsters all by himself. 4/21/21

The Green Rose by G.H. Teed, Stillwoods, 2019 (originally published in 1925)  

This Sexton Blake adventure is more of a traditional mystery than usual. Blake and Tinker are visiting a friend in Australia when one of the co-owners of a neighboring ranch is reported to have drowned in a dangerous pool of water. There is no love lost between the two ranches, but they cooperate in trying to recover the body. Blake is able to reconstruct what initially appears to be an accident, but he has a more sinister interpretation. Well above average for the series. 4/21/21

The House of the Vanishing Goblets by The Edingtons, Coachwhip, 2018 (originally published in 1930) 

Here’s a vintage old dark house mystery that should not have been reprinted. The prose style is so jumpy and dialogue heavy – bad dialogue – that there is not the slightest element of suspense. The premise is that a war movie is being shot in a remote location and an abandoned mansion nearby attracts the attention of the director, who disappears after going to check the place out. More investigations and disappearances follow, but I yawned my way through them. At one point, one of the fake soldiers shoots out a window. You do not arm a thousand men with live rounds when producing a battle scene no matter how realistic you want it to look. 4/20/21

Manhattan Wipeout by Joseph Rosenberger, Pinnacle, 1975  

The Death Merchant has been given a free hand to wipe out the Cosa Nostra in the US, so the criminals take out a contract on his life. He is soon posing as a member of a rival gang and making raids, which is designed to provoke the two of them into open warfare. At the same time, he storms various apartments, offices, and businesses supposedly to find evidence, although in fact most of the time he is just nudging up the body count. I suspect this was a rewritten version of what was supposed to be the second novel in the series, back when the CIA was not his employer. 

The KGB Frame by Joseph Rosenberger, Pinnacle, 1975

A rather dull entry in the series. Soviet agents have framed the Death Merchant so that the CIA assumes he is a traitor and plans to assassinate him. The Russians also have a hit team out looking for him. Camellion abducts and intimidates a number of Russians in order to find out what is going on and eventually prove his innocence, killing rather fewer people than usual, but also with less of a story line. Not particularly plausible. Not that any of the books in the series are remotely plausible.  4/19/21

Wings of the Black Death by Norvell Page, Berkley, 1961 (originally published in 1933)  

Norvell Page took over the Spider pulp series for a while – under the house name Grant Stockbridge - beginning with this one in which a villain is using an enhanced version of the bubonic plague to extort money. An awful lot of people know the Spider’s true identity in this one, including his servant, his girlfriend, his girlfriend’s butler, two of the villains, and the police commissioner. The villain plans to release a flock of infected pigeons on the city, but the Spider stops him, muddles the question of his true identity, redeems himself to a few people who had doubted him, and finishes off a vicious killer.  A couple of minor blunders in this one, like the villain knowing things he could not possibly have discovered. 4/18/21

When Greek Meets Greek by G.H. Teed, Stillwoods, 2019  (originally published in 1913)

Villainous Huxton Rymer teams up with Madame Yvonne to steal a cache of gold from a fictional Latin American country, and to kidnap its president as well. Yvonne has a grudge against the president, who is a crook himself, and they plan to make him appear to be the mastermind behind the theft. But the authorities call upon Sexton Blake, who almost gets killed during the course of this exciting but routine adventure. As usual he recovers the loot but the villains elude capture so that they can reappear in a subsequent adventure. 4/18/21

Burden of Proof by Victor Canning, Berkley, 1955   

Also known as The Hidden Face. This is not a very good story.  The protagonist is wrongly convicted of murdering a blackmailer. With the help of a friend, he escapes from prison, determined to clear his name. Several attempts are made on his life by a pair of thugs who always seem to know where he is going to be. Rather unconvincingly, it never occurs to our hero that the only person who could have told him was his “friend,” who was privy to all of his plans. There are also too many coincidences that genuinely are coincidences. Canning was sleepwalking through this one.  4/16/21

The Mainline Plot by Joseph Rosenberger, Pinnacle, 1974 

The Death Merchant is at it again. This time the North Koreans are partnering with the Mafia to introduce a new and more powerful form of heroin into the US. He goes to France and smashes a couple of Mafia strongholds singlehanded in order to find out where the drugs are headed. Then he’s in the US to track it down to a Mafia fortress where North Korean spies are plotting its distribution. At least this time he doesn’t make the assault on his own. The usual carnage mixed with insults about organized religion and a couple of small incidents that are virtually duplicates of scenes from earlier books in the series. 4/16/21

Beyond the Reach of the Law by G.H. Teed, Stillwoods, 2019  (originally published in 1913) 

First in a mini-series set inside the Sexton Blake universe. Madame Yvonne is furious when her family is bilked of their money by a group of swindlers. She decides to hunt each of the men down and exact revenge. Sexton Blake is sometimes an ally, sometimes a restraining force, and Yvonne eventually becomes a vague romantic interest. Teed liked this gimmick so much that he later used it again to introduce Roxanne Harfield, who was even less willing to restrict herself to legal methods. Neither series represents the author at his best, in part because the individual stories are incomplete. 4/15/21

Death of a Peer by Ngaio Marsh, Pocket, 1941     

Also published as Surfeit of Lampreys. Although I didn’t care for the solution to this one – it involves two criminals acting in consort and the timing is so confusing that it is impossible to follow – it is actually a very pleasant book. The Lampreys are a fascinating family, good natured, financially incompetent, internally loyal, and often witty. When the disagreeable uncle is stabbed through the eye with a skewer in an elevator, it appears that the most likely culprit is his clearly insane, occult obsessed wife. But Inspector Alleyn is not convinced and eventually ferrets out the truth. 4/13/21

Mystery and More Mystery by Robert Arthur, Random House, 1966 

Although these were marketed for younger readers, they are perfectly fine mystery stories, some of which appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. There are hints of the supernatural, always rationalized. There is some humor and some clever trick endings. None of them are classics but they are all expertly written and there is quite a lot of variation in plots. 4/13/21

Sexton Blake vs the Master Crooks edited by Mark Hodder, Rebellion, 2020

The Case of the Man in Motley by Anthony Skene (1919)

Sexton Blake battles Zenith, the malevolent albino who was a frequent opponent in the series. The first half is a puzzling mystery. Why have there been repeated attempts to steal an obviously worthless glass goblet? The rest is a battle to reclaim the diamond that was hidden in its base, which takes them both to a personal battle in the sewers of London. The notes so that Moorcock's Elric was based in part on Zenith, but I don't see it.

Prince Pretence by Lewis Jackson (1921)

Sexton Blake gets involved when Leon Kestrel, master of disguise and head of an international crime ring reminiscent of Moriarty, decides to impersonate a politician who is unaware that he has just won a very large sum of  money in a lottery. The race is on to claim the prize, but Kestrel's minions throw one obstacle after another in Blake's path. This was one of the better Blakes I've read.

The Wonder Man's Challenge by Edwy Searles Brooks (1921)

A battle of wits unfolds between Blake and Waldo the Wonder Man, who was featured in several other adventures. Waldo has physical abilities equal to four men, can fly an aircraft, climb buildings, move along strung cables, and so forth. He is a perfect gentleman, however, avoiding violence and giving his opponents a sporting chance to stop him. This is the closest to a comic book style supervillain I've encountered in the Sexton Blake universe.  4/10/21

The Mystery of the Moving Mountain by G.H. Teed, Stillwoods, 2019 (originally published in 1923)   

Two of Sexton Blake’s most able opponents team up to steal a shipment of gold in Costa Rica by substituting identical boxes containing lead. Huxton Rymer and George Marsden Plummer combine their talents for a fairly clever heist story, but naturally something goes wrong and Blake immediately suspects the truth. He recovers the gold, although the two villains escape to plot again. Above average. The racism in this one is particularly offensive. 4/8/21

An Uncertain Place by Fred Vargas, Penguin, 2011

A French police official is attending a conference in London when he chances to be involved in the discovery of several abandoned pairs of shoes, all of them with severed feet inside. Little does he know when he returns to France that he is going to be deeply involved with that crime, which is not confined to the British Isles. One of the darker mystery novels I’ve read in recent years, a police procedural with a more than ordinarily complex structure. I have consistently had problems developing a solid feel for the recurring protagonist. I had the feeling throughout that I had read this before, but that does not seem possible. 4/8/21

The Laser War by Joseph Rosenberger, Pinnacle, 1974 

It seems that the Nazis built a death ray that can project a five hundred foot wide cone of disintegration. But they only built one, sent it to Rommel, and he never got around to using it. So Israeli intelligence finds out about this and the Death Merchant is off to Libya with a bunch of Tuaregs to reclaim the device and give it to the government. Of course, that means killing literally hundreds of Egyptian and Libyan soldiers and police officers, kidnapping the Egyptian ambassador to Germany, discovering who is the mole giving information to the enemy, and mastering the science involved in order to make the weapon work again. He succeeds of course, but as in all of these series, the fact that the US government now has this superweapon is never again mentioned. 4/8/21

Twist of the Knife by Victor Canning, Avon, 1955 

Also published as His Bones Are Coral and filmed as Shark! A drug smuggler decides to give up his life of crime after falling in love with a woman he meets on the Egyptian coast. She and her father are engaged in studying coral reefs nearby and they hire him to operate their launch. He eventually discovers that her “father” is actually unrelated, and that he has discovered a sunken warship with a load of gold bullion aboard. He wants the protagonist to help him salvage the bullion – which is illegal – and he agrees. But the man is also determined to put an end to the romance as well. Quite short and I didn’t like the protagonist at all. 4/6/21

The Case of the Dead Shepherd by Christopher Bush, Dean Street, 2018 (originally published in 1934) 

There are two murders at a badly run school within a matter of minutes. The unpopular headmaster is bludgeoned to death. A teacher is poisoned, but probably by accident since he had swiped the headmaster’s tea. Two other teachers and the caretaker were all worried that they were going to be fired. The headmaster had scheduled simultaneous appointments with a member of the board of governors, a foreigner who wanted to tour the facility, and a constable from the local police. The poisoned man apparently knew something mysterious about the headmaster that is connected to a catalogue of chemical supplies, but he didn’t tell anyone what it was. The second victim actually murdered the first one, and was then killed on impulse by someone we were told had no opportunity – although obviously that wasn’t true. The detective solves both crimes by leaps of intuition rather than logic, and neither case could have resulted in a guilty verdict. Disappointing ending. 

Piracy! by G.H. Teed, Stillwoods, 2020 (originally published in 1931)  

For some reason, my least favorite Sexton Blake novels have been the ones like this one where he battles bootleggers on the Canadian border. This was the most entertaining of them so far, but still well below the usual quality level. The bad guys are not above committing some associated crimes during the course of their normal business, and they are not tolerant of a nosy British detective/adventurer who wants to bring them to justice. There is an interesting index to Teed’s work in the Union Jack magazine included in this edition. Teed wrote around four hundred novels and lots of short stories as well, not all about Blake. 4/5/21

Final Curtain by Ngaio Marsh, Berkley, 1947 

Inspector Alleyn’s wife, Agatha Troy, is commissioned to paint a portrait of a retired actor of great renown. This means living with his largely dysfunctional family for several days. The actor is obsessed with a young gold digger, much to the dismay of his family, and has decided to marry here, while disapproving of the marriage of two of his younger relatives. There is some jockeying for position about the terms of his will, which he is about to rewrite. Several practical jokes have been blamed on his young granddaughter, but Troy doesn’t believe she was responsible. I guessed most of the solution, but since several people could have been responsible, I didn’t guess the killer’s identity. 4/3/21

Death at the Bar by Ngaio Marsh, Pocket, 1940  

A man is nicked by a dart in a pub and dies moments later. The autopsy indicates he was poisoned. Traces of the poison were found on the tip of the dart. But it was a new one, had just been unboxed, and it was impossible for anyone to have applied poison before it was thrown. There are several possible motives – an angry woman, a jealous lover, two men who will receive large legacies, and a one time embezzler who does not want his new identity to be blown. Inspector Alleyn figures it out, of course, and it is fairly clever although there is some withheld information that would have given much of the solution away if it had been revealed earlier. 4/2/21

The Wheel of Death by R.T.M. Scott, Berkley, 1969 (originally published in 1933) 

The second Spider novel is considerably better than most pulp adventure stories. Wentworth, secretly the Spider, is trying to track down a ring of criminal who are coercing politicians into steering public money into their pet companies. Or killing them if they balk. He also becomes involved with a man sentenced to death for a murder he did not commit. This all takes him to a large party at the house of a businessman where a trick elevator provides access to hidden levels and where murder can be carried out with impunity. The Spider’s methods and arrogance are a bit troubling, but Scott could tell a good story. About half of the book takes place at the party, which is also unusual for pulp superhero stories. 4/1/21