Young ne’er-do-well Eddie Udall is arrested for the murder of Ann Avery, a cinema-owner’s wife who’d taken the teenager under her wing. All the evidence points toward Eddie as the killer — everything except possible motive, in fact, and motives are of course psychoanalyst Michael Gray’s stock in trade. Gray’s just about the only person who thinks Eddie might be innocent — even Eddie’s loving foster parents, who’re resolved to stand by the boy through thick and thin, believe he did the deed.
Of course, Gray’s right. And in solving the murder of Ann Avery, plus a second murder connected to the first, he blows wide open a conspiracy that’s been plaguing the good (and not-so-good) folk of San Francisco for years.
I enjoyed the first book in Henry Kuttner’s series about San Francisco psychoanalyst/detective Michael Gray, The Murder of Eleanor Pope , even as I recognized its limitations. I’m very glad, now, that I decided to persist with the series, because in The Murder of Ann Avery Kuttner seems to have sorted out most of the problems of Gray’s first outing to deliver a pacy, page-turning mystery. My only objection was that the solution to the crimes seemed obvious to me while Gray and his cop chum Harry Zucker were still thrashing around in perplexity — obvious enough, in fact, that I assumed it must be a red herring.
Next up in the series is Murder of a Mistress. On the basis of The Murder of Ann Avery, I’m smacking my lips.