|Senator Banner shines a light
on a problem
With Hake Talbot and Clayton Rawson, Joseph Commings was one of the most notable followers of the Maestro of the Impossible himself, John Dickson Carr, though Commings' great metier, like that of Edward D. Hoch (with whom he co-authored one tale in this collection) was the short story.
Commings began writing his stories while serving in the USAF during WW2. There were 33 of them in all, the first group appearing between 1947 and 1950 in 10-Story Detective, Ten Detective Aces and Hollywood Detective, the next between 1957 and 1968 in Mystery Digest, The Saint Mystery Magazine and Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, and the last, with one exception, between 1979 and 1984 in Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine. Commings suffered a severe stroke in 1971, when he was only 58, and never actually authored any new stories after that (the ones published after that year were older stories he had already written but not gotten published, though some of them are quite good).
Oddly, none of these stories, much admired by connoisseurs, ever appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. In his introduction to Banner Deadlines, Robert Adey quotes Commings as saying of his failure to get his stories placed in EQMM, "the editor took a dislike to me." Hm! Most mysterious.....
Up until I got this book I had only read Commings' Senator Banner tale "The X Street Murders," which had been anthologized some time ago. I remembered I liked it and hoped to read more by the author. So what is the all-Banner collection like? Put simply, if you like impossible crimes this one's for you! I should have the full, detailed review up soon.