The Four-Chambered Villain by Gary Madderom
Curtis Books 07310, Copyright 1971
"The Four-Chambered Villain" is a chilling novel about a cold-blooded assassin. The sophisticated killer is called David Ekberg and he hires out his special talent throughout the international stage. In New York he is contacted by a representative from the Albanian UN delegation, who wants him to brutally eliminate four UN representatives. The Albanian plan is to force the UN to relocate to an African nation. And by showing that New York can't provide a safe haven for them, the UN Secretary General will easily agree to the move.
We follow Ekberg as he plans each assassination, the next one being more horrific than the last. Package bomb explosions, mutilations with a boning knife, and face to face strangulations that include splitting a man's skull open with a hammer -when Ekberg is hired to make these murders appear sick and vicious, he delivers. With the UN and NYC in a panic, his last target is the UN Secretary General and this one takes special planning.
This thriller moves fast and you're not disappointed in any of its 158 pages. In fact, this is one novel that you'll wish was longer, I didn't want it to end. The author amazing describes what makes Ekberg tick and shows that he is more than a glorified hitman. And as a reader you are almost pulling for Eckberg to successfully complete his hits, even if he is in the trade of killing innocent people. Also the eerie, cold, city atmosphere breathes a dark edge to the story. Quite an impressive little novel, that packs a hell of a punch.
Only minor flaw I had with "The Four-Chambered Villain" was near the end and that involved an operation in the hospital. But being that the novel was written in 1971, that scene may not have been that much of a stretch as I had thought. As for the author Gary Madderom, he wrote a couple of more novels, one that I know of is "The Jewels That Got Away." If I ever come across another novel by Madderom, I'll grab it.
"Ekberg calmly continued straggling her. A terrible retching sound somehow traveled up through her stocking-compressed neck and between her lips. Her body relaxed. She rode with death. Her sphincter let go and an instant later her bladder. Eckberg began to breathe through his mouth. He held on a couple of minutes longer and then let go"
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
The Four-Chambered Villain by Gary Madderom
Friday, December 26, 2008
Dame in Danger by Thomas B. Dewey
Signet 1538, Copyright 1947
From 1947 until 1970, Thomas Dewey wrote 16 crime novels featuring the Chicago P.I. simply called Mac. Mac honed his detective skills working for the Chicago PD, until he got fired for shooting his mouth off to the commissioner. Since being a cop was all he knew, he got his private license with help from Lt. Donovan. Donovan is a hard veteran Homicide cop and he took Mac under his wing when Mac was on the force. The two remain close friends and throughout the novels they help one another during Mac's cases. "Dame in Danger" is Signet's seconding printing of Mac's first case. The original hardcover title is "Draw the Curtain Close" and in 1949 the first paperback (Signet 736) was printed with the original title. But I've always preferred this second paperback edition because of the sultry Robert Maguire cover.
They had just leaned over to pick up the corpse of Herman Losche when Donovan and I walked in. He looked even skinner and more moth-eaten dead than he had alive. There was a funny little twist to his lips, as if he'd been trying to figure out which was the bigger sucker, he or his murderer. I guessed it would probably come out even in the end.
The novel opens with Chicago's leading racketeer hiring Mac to keep an eye on his younger wife who may be in danger. Murders start quick in this one, as the racketeers bodyguard is killed delivering a package to Mac and then the cops find the racketeer himself murdered at his estate. The schooled puritan wife, Cynthia Warfield, becomes the prime suspect. Being a compassionate man, Mac believes she had nothing to do with the murder and hides her while he looks into things. A valuable family Bible and a stolen gem are at play here, and along for the ride are some ruthless tough guys and a redheaded bitch. The story gets complex as more murders mount up and a restrained sensual relationship develops between Cynthia and our P.I. As Mac battles through this one, he gets busted up a lot. Early on the hoods smack his face but good and he takes some serious slugs on the noggin all through the story. But he protects Cynthia, and has enough brain matter left to figure out why these murders are happening. And there is a pretty neat ending that takes place on the estate grounds, that is full of action.
I haven't found a Mac novel that I didn't enjoy. You'll find the early Mac stories more hardboiled than later ones. Authors were laying it down heavy on gunplay and rough stuff, during the time "Draw the Curtain Close" was written. Not long after, Thomas Dewey toned it down a bit and developed Mac into a formidable fictional character. The Mac character grew as the novels rolled on. He showed more sympathy and felt even pity for other characters, (good and bad) and with Mac being a more profound character the stories have more depth in the later novels. One of my favorites will always be "You've Got Him Cold." (1958) In the novel, we see Mac confronting his flaws, which causes some conflicts in how he interacts with others. Along with "The Mean Streets," (1954) it may be one of Dewey's most compelling mystery dramas. But don't overlook how the Chicago P.I. got started, his debut appearance is a damn good hard-knuckle detective story.
Thomas Dewey was a talented author who wrote many quality crime novels. But I lean to the Mac P.I. series, it contains his best work.
1st paperback edition of "Draw the Curtain Close"
Signet 736 (1949)
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Goldfish by Raymond Chandler
Short Story in "Trouble is My Business"
Pocket Book 2823
"Goldfish" is one of of my favorite Chandler short stories. Originally published in Black Mask in 1936, it featured a P.I. named Carmady. Almost all of Raymond Chandler's short stories were written before he created Marlowe, but these early P.I. characters are essentially the same L.A. dick -Philip Marlowe. You'll likely find Philip Marlowe as the P.I. (not Carmady) in most collections containing this story. That is the case in the four stories in this edition of "Trouble is My Business." (1957)
"I wasn't doing any work that day, just catching up on my foot-dangling." (opening line in "Goldfish")
In "Goldfish," Marlowe gets a tip on the location of the "Leander pearls." A guy by the name of Wally Sype heisted the gems 19 years earlier and he did his time without telling anyone where he stashed them. Sype was paroled and his location is unknown. The insurance company still has a $25,000 reward out on the pearls, so Marlowe looks into it. He finds Sype's old Leavenworth cellmate dead, after being tortured with a hot iron. And then Marlowe ends up meeting the two who performed the sadistic act. One is a shyster lawyer, but the one to watch out for is the cold-blood dame that goes by the name of Carol Donovan. They are also on the trail of the pearls, and after slapping their guns and giving Marlowe a "mickey," the two set out thinking they have the upper hand. But Marlowe unknowingly has the key and that is the word "goldfish."
Creative as hell, with all the wonderful Chandler descriptive elements in it. Murder, complex characters, sarcastic tough guy spilling out memorable dialogue, and a fine ending with Sype's wife trying to pull a fast one on the famous detective. A bonus is you get to meet the heartless Carol Donovan, a memorable character in the story. Hey, you can only keep reading Chandler's brilliant novels for so long. Hit the short stories once in a while, you will be rewarded.
"Red Wind" is also in this paperback. Besides having that marvelously written opening paragraph, (one of the best in any mystery short story) - the ending with Marlowe at the edge of the ocean is one of Chandler's most compassionate and sentimental. And the reference of the hot wind throughout this blackmail/murder story, has its own effect on each character and sets the mood throughout the story. The exchanges between Marlowe and the cop named Copernik are outstanding, with wiseass Marlowe playing the cop for a sucker. "Red Wind" was first published in Dime Detective Magazine in 1938, originally the P.I. was called John Dalmas. A great hardboiled read, one of Chandler's best.
The four "Marlowe" stories in this paperback:
"Trouble is My Business"
These four stories were published by Houghton Mifflin earlier in "The Simple Art of Murder,"(1950) which contained a total of 12 short works. A few years later, Pocket Books put together three paperbacks containing four short stories each from "The Simple Art of Murder." All are Marlowe stories and copies can still be found easily. I enjoy them all, how can you not.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Havana Hit by Mike Barry
#5 The Lone Wolf
Berkley Medallion, Copyright 1974
Barry N. Malzberg used the pseudo Mike Barry, for the fourteen Lone Wolf paperback novels he authored. Malzberg always seemed to find work. He wrote volumes of SF short stories that were published in magazines and anthologies. In fact, some are in book collections containing only Melzberg stories and these are very good. I recall three, “The Many Worlds of Barry Melzberg,” “The Best of Barry Metzberg,” and “Malzberg at Large,” as having some amazing SF stories. He also has a good number of novels in his bibliography. Besides SF, Malzberg dabbled in mysteries, adult sleaze paperbacks, and novelizations. In 1973, he started writing the Lone Wolf adventure series, introducing ex-NYPD cop Martin Wulff. From the four page introduction in “Havana Hit,” Wulff quits the force after his girl was killed by a deliberate overdose, and he becomes a one man wrecking crew that uses unrestrained violence to destroy drug kingpins and anyone that gets in his way. Alone, he built up quite a reputation, and now has the drug dealing organizations and the cops after him. Mean and obsessed, each adventure takes him to a new location where he leaves a large body count and extreme mayhem.
"Have you ever seen a seven-year old junkie? Have you ever seen a little girl holding a doll and so strung out on junk that she didn't know her name? Have you ever seen the soft men who peddle the stuff, the soft men in their houses on the bay, far away from all this, laughing at it, shielding themselves from what they've done, taking the money, filling the vein..."
It seems this story continues from where the previous one (#4) ended. Martin Wulff is flying out of Las Vegas on route to NYC with a valise full of heroin worth over a million dollars. Somehow this heroin was removed from the NYPD evidence room and got into the hands of organized drug traffickers. And during his last escapade in Vegas, Wulff went on a killing spree and blew up a hotel casino to get it back. The plane is hijacked and forced to land in Cuba. Taken into custody by a Cuba official named Delgado, Wulff’s valise is seized and he is sent to be executed. Delgado plans to keep the uncut heroin, sell it, and leave Cuba to live it up. But Wulff escapes and sets out to get the valise back. With a little help from a wimpy American helicopter pilot, he kills Delgado along with scores of other people and destroys the headquarters building. But the valise of heroin isn’t there. Delgado turned it over to DiStasio, who is the head of Cuban Intelligence. DiStasio has the same plan as Delgado had, take the heroin and get out of Cuba. Wulff hightails it to DiStasio’s estate and eliminates him to get the valise back. Then the wimpy American helicopter pilot gets enough courage to hold a gun on Wulff and attempt to steal the heroin himself. Of course Wulff outsmarts him and the American pilot ends up with a bullet in the spine and then one in the head. Martin Wulff races to the airport, hijacks a helicopter and off he goes, 90 miles north to the USA.
This one was painful. About a third of the way through, I said “it has to get better.” Halfway through, I realized it wasn’t going to get better. And once I finished it, I said “Thank God its over.” As an action novel, this one is lacking. The few scenes that have the explosions and gunplay are weakly described and there is no thrilling effect. The dialogue between characters tries to be hard, but comes off as tinny. And there are these constant-preaching rants by the character, mostly around how illegal drugs are destroying civilization. The only reason these rants seem to be in the novel is to fill it up to reach 192 pages. You get the impression that the whole idea around the Lone Wolf series was to quickly spit these novels out, and cash in on the popular 70’s genre of these numbered paperbacks featuring a violent crime crusader.
I got as much enjoyment reading this, as I would have listening to a Yoko Ono record album. This is the only Lone Wolf paperback I own, and I’ll probably not seek another. But I will not give up on Barry Malzberg’s SF stories. There are some good ones out there.
As for the scantily-clad maiden on the cover, no such female character is in the story. I hate when they do that.
Monday, December 15, 2008
The New Hand By Richard Deming
Short Story in Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, Nov. 1968
I've always admired the work of Richard Deming. You'll get a solid crime mystery by picking up any of his novels, a couple like "Hit and Run" and "Vice Cop" are outstanding. In the 60s he was a ghostwriter for some Ellery Queen novels. (the ones that didn't feature the Ellery Queen character) Numerous authors were ghostwriting these, and I found Deming's were some of the most suspenseful. But its in Deming's short stories, where you will find some of his best work. Compact plots, usually with non-hero characters that are believably human, but must take that fatal step to reach an easier lifestyle. He wrote many and he didn't cheat any publisher or reader. One of these is "The New Hand."
Gladys had a neat little scheme planned. Marry 70 year old ailing farmer Amos Bull and when he kicks off, inherit all his land, clean out his bank account, and collect on the tidy life-insurance policy. One problem, a new doctor hits town and finds out old Amos was misdiagnosed and is expected to be around for quite awhile. A new plan needs to be cooked up and Gladys gets her opportunity when Amos' farm hand quits and he is looking for a replacement. Over the radio she hears that a mad killer has escaped from the nearby asylum and when a man fitting the description comes knocking on the door, she ensures Amos doesn't get hold of the news alerts. Amos unknowingly hires the man and Gladys sets the trap. Using an axe that has the fingerprints of the new farm hand on it, she slaughters Amos in the barn. She lures in the new man and shoots him dead. A perfect crime, call the police and say the new hand killed Amos and was ready the kill her before she shot the crazed man in self-defense. And just as she is ready to make the phone call, the screen door is opened and Gladys faces her fate.
This reads like an episode from one of those Alfred Hitchcock Hour TV shows. It moves fast, is highly suspenseful with a touch of horror, and contains an unexpected ending. I hunt down Richard Deming short stories, he sure knew how to deliver them.
A wonderful shorter work in this issue, is Ed Lacy's "Night Games." Two adventurous Americans travel to a remote sleepy island in the Caribbean to execute a heist. Unknown to them is the island's shrewd police chief, who has the learned instincts of an old city cop. John Lutz provides a violent ending to the haunting murderous story called "King of the Kennel." And thrown in, is a damn good Mike Shayne story, about a vengeance-filled fugitive ready to settle some scores.
The high-caliber mystery stories in this issue:
"Deadly Conscience" by Brett Halliday (Mike Shayne story)
"The New Hand" by Richard Deming
"Wearing the Green" by Jack Ritchie
"The Dismal Flats Murder" by Joseph Payne Brennan
"King of the Kennel" by John Lutz
"Night Games" by Ed Lacy
"The Richest Girl in Town" by Deane and David Heller
"Rent Money" by Hal Ellson
"An Affair of the Heart" by Henry Slesar
Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine ended its run in 1985, and I miss it. For publications we are left with Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. But I've always preferred MSMM over these two, it was more hardboiled, no light crime yarns with humor, and each issue contain many quality stories. (not only just one or two) I always felt it was left to carry the torch after Manhunt stopped in the 60s. Plus you can't beat getting that Mike Shayne novelette every month.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Sharky's Machine By William Diehl
Dell 18292, Copyright 1978
William Diehl waited until the resilient age of 50 to start his first novel. The story behind that, is he was a seated juror on a trial and was so bored with it, he grabbed a notepad and starting writing. Well if true, we have to thank his local jury commissioners office, because what came out was “Sharky’s Machine,” a novel that holds nothing back and throws just about everything at the reader.
She lay beside the table. Her face was gone. Part of her shoulder was blown away. The right side of her head had been destroyed. She was a soggy, limp bundle laying partly against the wall in front of the door, blood pumping from her head, her neck, her shoulder. A splash of blood on the wall dripped down to the body.
Sharky clenched his teeth, felt bile sour in his throat, cried out, "No. Goddamnmit, no!"
Kicked out of the narcotics department after a bloody shootout in the streets of Atlanta, Sharky gets thrown down into the lowly Vice Squad. But he’s a good hard street cop and along with fellow beaten down Vice misfits, (the “Machine”) they quickly stumble upon a high-class prostitution ring. The operation seems to be shaking down wealthy “johns,” so they set up surveillance involving everything from shadowing people to wire-taps. A hooker named Domino becomes the "person of interest" in the corrupt scheme and Sharky obsessively makes her the focus of the investigation. Just when we get comfortable with the violence, sex, and pace in the story, Diehl takes it to another level. You have an U.S. Senator making plans for a Presidential run linked to the call-girl, a shady millionaire called DeLaroza who is connected to the Senator and Domino, and one of the most ruthless paid killers I have come across in any novel. Murders start occurring and once Sharky learns that Domino’s life is in danger, the "Machine" decides to hush up the investigation from their superiors and go it alone.
This turns out bigger than a standard street cop novel. Millions of dollars of stolen gold from WWII is tied to DeLaroza, and he needs people silenced. The U.S. Senators’ bid for the White House is in jeopardy and he needs Delaroza’s help. And our crazed hitman just keeps on coming. Of course Sharky falls for Domino, and the sex scenes of her with customers and Sharky listening in on the wire, are vicariously erotic. (Definitely “adults only” stuff) The novel succeeds in capturing the acrid street pulse of the late 1970s, using violence on high-volume, plenty of foul mouth language, and mysterious characters thriving on sleaze and power. Diehl creates a dirty, rash, and cold atmosphere, which makes the private scenes between Sharky and Domino, that much more endearing. And it is these brief pockets of tenderness that balances out the extreme raw edge that dominates the novel. But don’t get me wrong, this novel was written to get your attention.
For starting late, William Diehl authored a handful of excellent novels and fans of his work will differ on which is their favorite. But for me, “Sharky’s Machine” will always be on top.
This novel is an erupting force that spits at you.....
Monday, December 8, 2008
Bring Him Back Dead By Day Keene
Gold Medal 603, Copyright 1956
Day Keene stayed a busy writer. He started in the early 40s writing pulp stories for the mystery magazines, (and he wrote many) then later in that decade his first novel was published. He wrote over 50 novels, many taking place in South Florida or swamp towns in Louisiana. Keene uses a common theme in many of his stories, a man who is wrongly accused and while on the run he must clear his name. “Bring Him Back Dead” is one of those and being only 127 pages, the pace is fast and there’s no room for a breather.
The girl continued to study him. "I make you now," she said finally. "You're the deputy who killed that old carnival man an' raped his wife on the floor of their trailer."
"I didn't touch her," Latour said. "I wasn't even inside the trailer."
"What's the matter with you? You one of them guys who has t' hurt a girl? You know, whip her or somethin', or her whip you?"
Latour didn't bother to answer her.
The town of French Bayou in Louisiana is going through an oil boom, and if you’re smart enough or crooked enough, lots of money can be made. But Deputy Sheriff Andy Latour seems to be content with what he has. Unfortunately, his marriage to his foreign wife Olga isn't going so well. He suspects his wife is disappointed with him being hick deputy and not willing to get out there grabbing some of that oil money. Mounting frustration leads Latour into a situation where he becomes a suspect in a murder and rape crime. Fingered by the rape victim, he realizes he is being set up. But the big question is why? Arrested and waiting for trial, he manages to escape to try to find the answer to this question.
For a short one, there are many layers in this story. Nothing goes right for Latour. Whether it being problems with his wife, the righteous law, or hunted by a mob of vigilantes-he keeps whirling downward. Abandoned, he must battle through the confusion surrounding his predicament and come up with a plan for his survival. And just when he is about beat, the answer comes. But it really is two answers. One for the reason of being set up for the crimes and the other is love. Love he was unable to see because of a wall he built around himself. A very emotional ending for a complex character, and that’s something that you don’t normally see in Day Keene stories.
I’ve read many Day Keene novels and I never found one that I didn’t enjoy. They always contain a good mystery and an atmosphere of crime noir, especially the novels written in the 50s. And with over 50 titles to choose from, I’m sure any reader of this genre will find a few they like.
(And don’t pass over any Day Keene short story you come upon)
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Dec. 7, 1941
As the years go by, even the historical events of this day seems to be getting less and less coverage. My hope is that future generations will be taught and understand the significance this day had on all Americans and the impact it had shaping the future of this great nation. Growing up in the 50s and 60s, we understood and honored this day. Today, I wonder. I have looked through some textbooks that are given to Elem. and High School students and there appears to be a growing downplay on the role America played in defeating Nazi tyranny and Japanese aggression in WWII. It's a shame. I hope the events that occurred on this day will not be forgotten and that all of those who serviced in WWII will forever be honored.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Purple Aces by Robert J. Hogan
Berkley X1746, May 1970
“G-8 and His Battle Aces” was an aviation pulp hero and from 1933 to 1944, he was featured in his own magazine. There were over 100 adventures that the WWI ace carried out, and his German enemies threw everything at him, in the air and on land. To keep his identity a secret, America’s flying spy was given the code name G-8. Along with his two wingmen, Nippy Weston and Bull Martin, many of the stories dove into the realm of science fiction, with evil German scientists working on the Kaiser’s orders to develop wicked ways to gain an edge during the Great War. In 1970, Berkley started reprinting these pulp adventures in paperback and I remember grabbing them off the drugstore rack.
In “Purple Aces,” captured American pilots are being converted into zombie-like flying warriors for the enemy. Induced by a chemical, it starts with them receiving a purple “ace of spades” birthmark on their forehead and quickly spreads the hideous color over the entire face. In turn, a demonic force controls the minds of the “reborn” pilots and they are programmed to execute suicide missions against American fliers. G-8 and his men are sent to uncover the source of this menace. Being an all-American hero, G-8 wastes no time engaging in dogfights and slipping behind enemy lines to get answers. Solving the mystery, which takes him through the halls of an ancient castle, G-8 meets again the mad Herr Doktor Krueger (a frequent enemy in many G-8 adventures) and a mind controlling genius scientist called Zwantag. Their final diabolical plan is in motion, time is running out, and both evil men must be stopped.
This is pulp at its best. It’s a highly adventurous tale, but what makes it stand out is that it is also a complete horror story. Hogan was a master of creating a mysterious lurking atmosphere, that takes the reader into lead-filled skies, dark dungeon enemy hideouts, and rat infested swamps. In fact the scenes in the swamp are some of the best I’ve read in any pulp story. Enhanced by mesmerizing dialogue and amazing air battles, “Purple Aces” is an adventure novel that can appeal to all ages. (Though like most of these stories, geared to the male reader) Whenever I read these pulp stories of yesteryear, I envision the early readers in the 30s and how in awe they must have been to be the first to escape in the adventure and the terror each story took them on.
Robert J. Hogan was an exceptional pulp writer and I forgot how much I enjoyed his tales until I recently revisited them. His pulp stories are full of mystery, adventure and horror; and if Berkley didn’t reissue them, I would probably never had discovered Hogan’s work. I believe eight “G-8 and His Battle Aces” novels were published in 1970/71, and the first three have covers by Jim Steranko.
1. The Bat Staffel
2. Purple Aces
3. Ace of the White Death
4. Bombs from the Murder Wolves
5. Vultures of the White Death
6. Flight from the Grave
7. Fangs of the Sky Leopard
8. The Mark of the Vultures
They are like a time capsule, from an era that seems to be fading away...
The exploits of “G-8 and His Battle Aces” are still being reissued. You can find them at Adventure House, along with Robert J. Hogan's other pulps, "Mysterious Wu Fang" and "The Secret 6."
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Drink With The Dead by J. M. Flynn
Ace D-379, Copyright 1959
Though I'm not a huge fan of Flynn's work, I seemed to have acquired many of his paperbacks throughout the years. Writing under the name J.M. Flynn and Jay Flynn, his novels are usually quick and short, with lead characters sometimes anti-hero and others law-enforcement types. My introduction to the author was by first reading his four "McHugh" novels. McHugh is a tough adventurous American spy, and to be honest I labored finishing the series and found it a notch below mediocre. But a few Flynn novels are good and showed that he had the talent for writing crime fiction. "Drink With The Dead" is one of them.
"Better have your lawyer get in touch with me," Jensen said curtly. "Fight it and we take your ranch and whatever else we can find!"
"So that's it. Shakedown," Wright lit a cigar. "Shamus, I don't shake. Go chase an ambulance before you need a ride in one."
The novel starts with Konard Jensen stuck in a small town jail after being interrogated for hours and threatened with the rubber-hose treatment. He is left alone in his cell and facing a murder rap, then Flynn sends the story into a wonderful flashback. We find out Jensen is a federal agent stationed in San Francisco, and the office is investigating the sudden appearance of high quality, illegal booze that's flooding the area. After his undercover partner is shot in a rural town looking into the matter, Jensen is sent to find who killed him and shutdown the illegal operation. Surprisingly, his cover is being a private detective, looking into the death for the family. The cover works well, as Jensen starts rattling cages to bring the crooks out and make them go after him. Willing to have his head busted up, he starts making trouble for the bootlegging operation and it's political influences. But it comes at a cost, and he is taking in for a "road rage" type killing. Out of the flashback, he breaks out of the jail and sets up some alliances. Locating the hidden operation and armed, he violently heads in to settle up with the killer and bootleggers.
Jensen is a tough cookie, willing to take his punishment to serve justice. He has an unpredictable mind which allows him to leap into an action situation. It's nice to see the bootlegging angle, it's rarely used outside prohibition era stories and Flynn makes it convincing for the reader. Not overdone with excessive violence, the story contains well developed characters which strengthens this compelling mystery adventure. Plus, a surprise whodunit ending that I didn't see coming.
Many of Flynn's paperbacks aren't above average, but a couple hit the mark at delivering a suspenseful, complex, dark crime action drama. The word is that Flynn had a problem with the bottle and it affected his writing in many later novels. That may be so, but I read enough of his work to see sparks of unique creativity and an ability to captivate the reader, with hardboiled action and a double-time marching pace. For me, "Drink With The Dead" was an enjoyable yarn.
An example of Flynn off his game, is his 1976 "Blood on Frisco Bay" which was published by Leisure Books. SFPD Sgt. Joe Riggs is free to do what he wants in the name of justice. He drives around in a station wagon with a Walther, foot-long knife and his partner is a Irish wolfhound named Croc. (and I'm not kidding, that is his partner) Plenty of foul mouth dialog, bullets tearing heads off, and a weak plot. Flynn throws about every situation a dude can come across in this one. It's in the category of being so awful, that with a laugh -you may enjoy it.
By the way, the flip novel in the 1959 Ace Double is "Mistress of Horror House" by author William Woody. (pseud?) It features a P.I. called Houston McIver, who operates out of El Paso. It starts off with the traditional, "dame with a nasty problem entering the detective's office." With the little research I did, P.I. Houston McIver appeared in only this novel and I found no reference of William Woody writing anything else.