Robert Colby gives us the excellent story involving good guy Neil Shepard and the search for missing cash. This paperback is 128 pages long and not one written paragraph is wasted.
“She’s a spoiled bitch!” he said. “She’s selfish to her toenails. Intellectually, I know it and yet emotionally I cling to her or something she represents, like an alcoholic to his last bottle.”
Neil Shepard gets word that his ex-lover’s husband has been killed in a car crash. Five years ago beautiful Corrine dumped him hard and she has always obsessed him. Compelled to see her, Shepard leaves Florida and heads to New York. Glad that he came, Corrine apologizes about being a bitch to him in the past and she uses her sex to rekindle the relationship. She tells Shepard that before her husband died he was in possession of two hundred thousand dollars, which he said was won in a poker game. The money can’t be located and Shepard agrees to play detective and see if he can help find the cash. Shepard doesn’t buy the poker story, but she agrees to give him $50,000 if he finds it and his desire for Corrine is strong. He sets out and along the way we are introduced to four ruthless professional thieves who will do anything to get the cash. Shepard along the way witnesses betrayal, unfaithfulness by Corrine, torture and murder.
“Don’t try it,” he said. “This gun has no friends.”
It’s a fantastic novel, which starting from page one just continues to build and build. We come to understand about the obsession of Shepard for Corrine and even what compels Corrine to want more men. The violence of the four thieves is fairly graphic for a novel from 50s. These guys are real bad dudes and the author doesn’t hold back. Very intense ending. Shepard, after witnessing the evil of these four men, resorts to his own violence. He then practically breaks down, which concludes into a powerful emotional ending.
As you may tell, Robert Colby has been a favorite of mine. He never wrote a sub-par book or short story. All of his Gold Medal books are excellent. “The Captain Must Die” is one of the finest published by Gold Medal and is reaching "classic" status. His four books published by ACE are also terrific. My favorite being “The Quaking Widow.”
For more on Robert Colby see Peter Enfantino's 2006 Tribute that is posted on the excellent Mystery*File site - editor is Steve Lewis.