Thursday, January 17, 2008

Switcheroo by Emmett McDowell

Switcheroo by Emmett McDowell.
ACE D-51, Copyright 1954

Was expecting a bit more out of this one. Turned out to be a disappointment. B-Grade stuff. Written in 1954, came off as something you might read out of a late 1930s pulp magazine.

Jaimie MacRae is the top P.I. at the Louisville branch of an investigation firm. He is assigned a missing persons case. The cops with all their resources can’t seem to make any progress on it. So a family member of the missing woman thinks one lone P.I. could do better. MacRae comes off bland, with no personality. You really don’t care for him. In the first chapter he just realizes, after a couple of years, that the office secretary is a good-looking woman. What kind of a detective is that! Anyway, the secretary becomes his love interest and tags along during the story. MacRae goes through the routine motions that have been covered in private eyes stories before. No surprises and you know how this one is going to end after a couple chapters.

“How’s business?” asked MacRae.
“Picking up.” It was a standard joke. MacRae didn’t bother to laugh, and she regarded him with considerable distaste.

McDowell must have enjoyed the early pulp magazine era, because this read liked one. Jaimie MacRae is even reading the mystery magazines in the story. Unfortunately, this was the 1950s. The P.I. story made giant leaps since those pulp days. After realizing what this was, I tried reading it like I would a pulp magazine story. It didn’t help. ACE Publications had a few below average novels during these years and this was one. The cover may have be the best part of this novel.

Note: The “flip” novel of this ACE double is “Over the Edge” by Lawrence Treat. After reading a few pages, this is a much better story.

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