Crimes arise from so many motives, are perpetrated by so many types and occupations of people, and are surrounded by so many highly technical clues, that, when the fictitious detective understands the implications of every single scene of violence he comes upon, he is showing more learning than is humanly possible.
We have reached and passed a milestone in this field of endeavor, and of literature, and the writer with any respect for the verities is going to be forced to recognize that the bureau, or group of intelligent specialists, is the only fit antagonist for the criminals of the twentieth century. Everybody but the writers has realized this for years. What do you find meeting illegalities now? Unassisted individuals? No! You have New Scotland Yard, and our own Federal Bureau of Investigation.
However, able as these organizations are, they must suffer by comparison with such a group of gifted amateurs as The Catalyst Club...."
Dyer was the great-grandson of George Washington Dyer, grandson of U. S. Navy Commodore George Leland Dyer (1849-1914), once territorial governor of Guam, and son of U. S. Navy Commander and Ivy League footballer George Palmer Dyer (1876-1948), who was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, where his father was stationed.
The Catalyst Club is dedicated to George P. Dyer, "the third George Dyer, in gratitude for incalculable help with this book as with all the others."
George Bell Dyer, the fourth George Dyer, graduated from Philips Academy and Yale University. In the late 1920s he briefly worked as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner before becoming a freelance writer, in which capacity he produced seven detective novels and crime thrillers between 1931 and 1940. He married Charlotte Leavitt in 1930 and the couple moved two years later to New Hope, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia.
|George Palmer Dyer|
father of the author
who gave his son
with his mysteries
Dyer also continued to write--though sadly only concerning politics and history, rather than the favorites of your Passing Tramp, crime and detection.
Dyer's mystery The Five Fragments (1932) was adapted into the film Fog over Frisco (1934), which co-starred Bette Davis. Three of his seven crime novels concern the activities of The Catalyst Club, a San Francisco-based panel of distinguished experts in various fields that helps the California police solve baffling murders (reflecting the times, it's one of those men only clubs). This group is introduced, appropriately enough, in The Catalyst Club (1936). The Long Death (1937) and The People Ask Death (1940) followed.
|the scene of the crime|
The material detail of the Club's investigation is fascinating, but Dyer does not stop there, introducing psychological factors as well. The Club members themselves advance differing theories of the crime and separately investigate it. Their various investigations and their banter among themselves makes engrossing and entertaining reading.
I must note that I missed the "how" solution until disgracefully late in the day!
We even get a map of the estate (who doesn't love maps) and photo plates of crime exhibits. And, shades of Philo Vance, some footnotes! For fans of Golden Age detection, The Catalyst Club is a cornucopia, filled to overflowing with good things. I look forward to reading the other two novels in this series.