BRAIN WAVES AND DEATH by Joseph J. Patchen

Is an obscure novel and the only novel to be written by Willard Rich, a pseudonym for William Rich published by Charles Scribner’s Son’s in 1940. The book was published posthumously following the author’s suicide.

Interesting back story to start but I know what you are saying. 1940? 1940!? Why would I be interested in a book older than my grandparents?

002Well you should be and here is why:

True, at first read what ones finds is a fairly standard pat murder mystery. Like the vast majority of murder mysteries the novel itself is flawed and the plot predictable following the standard and almost by law required contrived set-up.

In sealed room, while under constant observation a research scientist is murdered during an electroencephalography experiment. Then to no one’s surprise a second ‘murder’ of a research scientist occurs under similar circumstances as puzzling as the first. But fear not, a “practical” Boston detective named Inspector Noonan scrupulously solves these murders.

Ho-hum; please just wait…

Remember Richards committed suicide shortly after sending the novel out to a publisher. Rich or Richards was not a professional writer, in fact he worked for Alfred Lee Loomis a financier and researcher himself in all things military. Richards worked for Loomis at a facility forty miles north of Manhattan known as “Tuxedo Park”.

Tuxedo Park was the forerunner to Loomis’ MIT Rad Lab and another place he directed known as the Manhattan Project.

Legend further states that Loomis rounded up all the copies of this potboiler he could lay his hands on and burned them.

He missed a few copies. The book is rare and an interesting read only because of its history. If you find it in a used book store or flea market – buy it because true book dealers will charge you anywhere between $800.00 to $1,500.00.

In my mind this makes this tome a very important book.


Joseph J. Patchen stories have appeared in print, on the web and in podcasts. He is the literary critic for and has own website his own He write horror and humor and sometimes doesn’t see the difference between the two.


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