There is some good detection in The Scarecrow Murders (1938), a much later work by Kummer who began his career as a writer for the various popular fiction magazines (All-Story Weekly, Blue Book, The Cavalier, among others) where his old-fashioned, complex crime stories were originally serialized. He was a prolific writer who was one of the smart guys who learned to change with the times in order to sell his work. This novel is markedly different from something like The Ivory Snuff Box (1912), one of his earliest books published under his pseudonym Arnold Fredericks. The dainty manners, quaint dialog and relatively civilized criminal characters of the early 20th century are replaced by volatile emotions, harsh speech and vicious bloody murders that characterize the tougher crime novels that were in vogue in the late 1930s.
This is the first appearance of Judge Henry Tyson who also does detective work in a sequel, The Twisted Face (1938). Here he teams up with Dr. Richardson doing most of the real detective work while Chief Purnell stubbornly stick to his theory that Bowley is responsible for the murders. Bowley's belligerent and confrontational manner only serves to reinforce Purnell's suspicions. Tyson instead is more interested in Hart, a mysterious car salesman who visited Mary Lee Perrin's office. He and his car have vanished but he leaves a trail behind him like a smoking gun. Is he really a used car salesman or perhaps a private detective digging up dirt about Morrison's shady business practices?
|The US paperback edition|
Kummer does good work here and I'd say if you come across this odd mystery novel you'd do well to check it out as a better example of an early form of country noir. It often turns up in the paperback digest edition at a usually affordable price. There are currently a few copies for sale on the internet.