The next year Webb published another Q. Patrick mystery, Death Goes to School, which evidently was authored by himself alone, but Death for Dear Clara (1937) and all the Q. Patricks that followed were written collaboratively by Webb and Wheeler.
The Grindle Nightmare was, it seems, one of the more successful Q. Patrick crime novels, which were later eclipsed by Webb and Wheeler's Patrick Quentin mysteries. Reprinted by Popular Library in 1949, it appeared a final time in paperback in the Sixties in a Ballantine edition; but since then it has been out-of-print for over a half century, like all the other books in the Q. Patrick line, sadly.
At the time it was originally published in 1935, Grindle was noted for its horrific criminal subject matter, which includes animal mutilation and child murder. The novel is set in New England in the Grindle Valley, twenty miles from the city of Rhodes, home of Rhodes University Hospital. There are a half-dozen or so main households in Grindle (see map), populated by a group of mostly unlikable middle and upper class professional types beset by myriad physical and emotional dysfunctions, some quite bluntly presented for their day. It all struck me rather like something out of a Patricia Highsmith novel, say Deep Water (1957).
|When The Grindle Nightmare was published
mystery was made about the identity of the
author, "an important eastern executive."
Today such a story would be told strictly for horror and shock value, at two or even three times the length (Grindle is a short novel of only about 60, 000 words), but in 1935, the events, while no end gruesome, are intellectualized as part of a problem to be solved.
The solution is very interesting, especially for its time, but of course I can't say more about that without spoiling. Surely someday this novel will be reprinted, so I don't want to do that. However, I do have more to say about Grindle in a forthcoming essay included in a collection to be published next year, so stay tuned!