S.S. Van Dine is a pseudonym for Willard Huntington Wright. THE BENSON MURDER CASE is the first Philo Vance mystery. Vance is an amateur detective and young aristocrat who is a close friend of the new District Attorney, John F.X. Markham. Vance mentions to Markham that he may enjoy going with him on a murder investigation. When Alvin Benson is found slain, Markham invites Vance to join him while he inspects the crime scene. A preliminary investigation reveals that Benson was murdered about 12:30 AM while sitting in a chair in the middle of his living room. The murder weapon appears to be a Colt .45 automatic army pistol. Benson has one bullet wound in the head.
Benson was a bachelor, but Mrs. Anna Platz, a housekeeper, slept upstairs. Benson left his apartment at 6:30 PM telling Mrs. Platz she need not wait up for him. Mrs. Platz did not discover the body until 7:00 AM.
Besides Mrs. Platz there are several other suspects. Leading the list is Muriel St. Clair, whose gloves and handbag are found in Benson's living room. Muriel's fiance, Captain Philip Leacock, is known to have threatened Benson in public. The notorious womanizer Leander Pfyfe seems to have the strongest motive for the crime since he owed Benson $10,000. To make matters even more confusing, the jewelry of Pfyfe's girl friend ends up in the hands of Benson's brother and business partner, Major Anthony Benson. Vance seems to know who the killer is early in the investigation but he prefers to present several competing theories of the case as the various suspects are interviewed. By this method Vance is able to diplomatically lead Markham to the solution of the crime.
This report prepared by Peter Kenney