cover image A Puzzle for Fools

A Puzzle for Fools

Patrick Quentin. Penzler, $25.95 (264p) ISBN 978-1-61316-124-1

What if a sanitarium patient was asked to play detective by the facility’s director? That’s the intriguing hook in this entry in the American Mystery Classics series, originally published in 1936 under the Quentin pseudonym used by Hugh Callingham Wheeler and Richard Wilson Webb. Peter Duluth, “New York’s youngest theatrical producer,” finds refuge in a bottle after his wife dies in a fire. His alcoholism takes a toll on his career, leading Duluth to admit himself to Dr. Lenz’s New York City sanitarium. One night, Duluth is terrified to hear what seems to be his own voice whispering to him that he needed to “get away now,” and that there will be a murder at the institution. When he reports the incident to Lenz, the psychiatrist informs Duluth that there have been other “unexplainable little incidents,” which suggest that one of the patients may be more seriously mentally ill than suspected. Lenz enlists Duluth to help him investigate, a role that becomes much trickier after another patient reports experiences similar to his and someone is murdered. The clever plot makes the most out of its unusual setting and premise. [em](Mar.) [/em]