One of These Seven may feature a murder that takes place in a locked room, but it’s hardly a locked room mystery. Said locked room features a lock to which seven people hold the key, and so when a man is found shot to death within, the obvious question is which of the seven committed the crime. And honestly, that’s about what you’re going to get from this story. Amateur detective Justus Drum pledges that he’ll track down the killer and subsequently interviews the seven suspects. Then one of them winds up dead, so he re-interviews the remaining six. Then the killer is revealed. Sadly that’s about it.
I wouldn’t say that the book is poorly written in any obvious way, other than it absolutely fails to leave an impression. The only memorable part is the victim; a larger than life artist who graces a dozen or so pages before winding up riddled with bullets. Aside from that, you get a competently written investigation, but it never turns into anything other than “who murdered Paul Quinton?” In the end, whether it was any specific one of the seven doesn’t really matter. A finger is pointed, a killer confesses, and we move on with our lives.
It’s unfortunate, because the 1947 Handi Book Mystery edition that I managed to hunt down (under the false pretense that this was an impossible crime) is a fine specimen and features a stylish cover. I guess there’s a semi-clever bit in how the killer managed to evade immediate detection by the police, but that part would only make me swoon if buried within a much deeper story. I’ve never heard of authors Carolynne and Malcolm Logan before, and although page for page they write about as good as any other NYC-set Golden Age mystery, I won’t be seeking them out because this never really stirred the imagination. Too bad.