Saturday, January 5, 2008

Renegade Cop by Jonathan Craig

Renegade Cop by Jonathan Craig.
Berkley D2015, copyright 1954
(Original Title: "Alley Girl")

Jonathan Craig is best known for the Pete Selby-Stan Rayder detective series, published in the 50s by Gold Medal. Though most books from the series are good, Craig's best work came from two other novels. One being Gold Medal's " Come Night, Come Evil"-with an awesome cover, and the other is "Renegade Cop."

Detective-Lieutenant Steve Lambert is a tough cop. He also is a mean SOB. Right from the start, we find him waking up hungover and slapping around his girl. Lambert and his partner are investigating a murder and the prime suspect has been arrested, a young guy named Tommy Nolan. They go to Nolan's house to interview his
nice, loyal, loving wife. Lambert goes in talking tough to Mrs. Nolan and is immediately attracted to the "natural feminine aroma of her young body." He tells Mrs. Nolan that, he can work it out to help her husband if she provides him with certain "private services." The chapter ends with her going to the bedroom saying "Let's get it over with."

As you can tell, not a nice guy. Lambert is offered five thousand dollars to forget about a girl seen running away from the murder scene. Instead of solving the murder, he sets out to frame Nolan for it. Lambert continues to lead Mrs. Nolan on, and keep the "private services" coming. He even taunts Tommy Nolan about what his wife is doing, saying "when her husband's in a cell, he isn't a heck of a lot of good to her." As Lambert gets deeper and deeper into the corruption, events get more intense. Others
start to figure out what is going on, and- as for the fate of Steve Lambert.......

It's a fine hardboiled story and pretty raw for 1954.
As a reader, I wanted to tear apart Steve Lambert. Craig was good at getting to the readers emotions. Psychological interaction between characters, descriptive character thoughts, slick dialog and a damn good plot. Craig doesn't hold back on this one.

As for the original title "Alley Girl," that refers to the girl seen running away from the scene of the murder. Which develops into an unusual, perverted twist at the end.


Anonymous said...

Craig was a fine, underrated writer. And Alley Girl a great read. mtm

Anonymous said...

I seem to remember a short story by him in Ellery Queen's mystery mag called "Call Me Nick." It involved a man making a deal with the devil about killing his wife. Anyone remember? Anyone know how to find it again?

joad said...

"Call Me Nick" was in the October 1968 issue of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.