Friday, April 18, 2014

The Corpse Wore a Wig (1940), by George Bagby

The American author Aaron Marc Stein (1906-1985) published over 100 crime novels between 1935 and 1984, making him one of the more prolific mystery genre writers, yet he seems not to get much mention since his death.

Close to half Stein's crime novels, written under the name "George Bagby," detail the investigations of Inspector Schmidt, who debuted in 1935 and made his final appearance in 1983. The Inspector Schmidt series offers an interesting combination of police procedural and "Great Detective" traditions, at least from what I have seen of the earlier novels.

The seventh George Bagby crime novel, The Corpse Wore a Wig, was published in 1940.  The particular copy I read (see illustrations) was inscribed by Stein to John Ball (1911-1988), author of In the Heat of the Night (1965).

Stein graduated from Princeton in 1927, got a job as the "antiques and decorations" editor for the New York Evening Post and a few years later published two modernist, stream-of-consciousness novels, Spirals (1930) and Her Body Speaks (1931), as well as the first George Bagby title, Bachelor's Wife (1932). He then shifted to crime writing with his first George Bagby mystery, Murder at the Piano (1935).  I haven't read that book, but I am reading, and enjoying, Wig.  I will have to full review up this weekend.


  1. I read many, many books by George Bagby when I was younger. I imagine I got most of my copies from the library, because I don't have many any more. I have recently been wanting to find some of his books. I look forward to your review eagerly.

    And that is a gorgeous book you have pictured here!

  2. I too am looking forward to your review. I find it intriguing that very prolific writers whose books were very much in demand once upon a time have now fallen into obscurity. Names like E.P. Oppenheim, Victor Canning, and Peter Cheney come to mind. Can we have a post on this (non) phenomenon?