The Darker The Night (1950) by Herbert Brean

“The four are all in hypnotic trance. They will obey me without question. I can turn honest men into thieves and virtuous women into wantons. I can, by suggestion, make a man kill himself or another man…”

Reynold Frame was not convinced that Gary Price could actually do such things but when the journalist begins to investigate the case of Douglas Ballantyne, who died by falling/jumping/being pushed from his window, every lead seems to come back to  Price.

Is it possible the hypnotist is causing people to jump to their deaths? After a second such incident, Frame finds his investigations are putting his own neck on the line…

Wilders Walk Away, Herbert Brean’s first mystery novel, was an interesting read – flawed, mostly due to trying to cram in too many disappearances, most of them not having desperately interesting solutions. Compared to The Darker The Night, it looks like a swear-wording masterpiece.

I said last time that I’ve been having trouble settling on a book to read, so I was quite pleased with myself that I finished it, because as the book went on, it got on my nerves more and more. While presented as a whodunit, this seems more firmly in the noir genre, with threatening men with guns (OK, man) turning up occasionally and our hero living on his wits to elude both villains and the police. None of the characters seemed to act like real people and at about the halfway point, I lost all interest in what was going on. I just didn’t care about anyone in the plot…

It doesn’t help the plot that we know hypnotism is involved and there’s only one hypnotist, apparently, as part of the story. So either he’s guilty or someone has significant hypnotic powers and has been hiding it for years. To be vaguely fair, there is something more to it, but as I said, by this point I didn’t care.

Noir fans may well enjoy this a lot more that I did, but I won’t be trying Brean again in the near future.


  1. I liked this a lot more than you did, but I agree that coming to Brean hoping for a typical whodunnit will lead to frustration. He seems to have tried a different variation on it witrh each of the books I’ve read, which makes picking him up a little bit of a risk, as you’re never quite sure what you’re gonna ge 🙂

    Better luck with you next read, Doc.


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