After years of increasingly silly tales, in Detective 246 (Aug. 57) Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff put Batman and Robin into a serious murder mystery, set in a castle just outside Gotham.
Wealthy gun dealer James Barham is murdered in his castle, and the four guests are the only possible suspects – relatives and business associates who all have reasons to kill him.
Part of the mystery is figuring out even how the murder was committed. A crossbow was used as the weapon, but no one was in the room when it was fired.
Batman puts the pieces together, and realizes the importance of the water stain on the table with the crossbow – a lump of ice was used to set it off. This is not the greatest Batman story ever told, not even close, but it’s still miles above most of what has been printed in the preceding few years.
John Jones gets a female partner in this Jack Miller story, Diane Meade, a rookie policewoman.
Her primary function in the story is to make life difficult for J’onn, who is not able to use his many powers on the case, simply because she is there and would see what he was doing. Much better than having a comet take away his powers for a story.
Diane was likely intended as a one-shot character, but her usefulness, as well as the lack of supporting cast in this strip, were probably responsible for her return a couple years down the road.