this is the 147th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books
Blue Murder by Brett Halliday, Dell 1973 mass market paperback – mystery – Mike Shayne
Davis Dresser created the pseudonym Brett Halliday and the series character Michael Shayne for the 1939 first novel in the series, Dividend On Death. After 1958, beginning with Fit to Kill, “Brett Halliday” was a house name used by several authors. The bulk are written by Robert Terrall, with some written by Ryerson Johnson and Dennis Lynds. Blue Murder is a very late entry in the series of Shayne books, the 64th of about 70 that were written. As you can see, by this time Dell was using photographic covers, instead of the much nicer painted ones used on earlier books in the series.
“Gretchen Tucker, an elegant thin-nosed blonde wearing glasses, very short shorts and a thin sleeveless top, turned out the projection room lights, and the screening began.”
The film Gretchen and producer Armand Baruch are about to watch are the scenes shot earlier that day of an elegant, thin-nosed blonde, wearing glasses, doing things that can only be described as pornographic. The film is to be titled Domestic Relations. Gretchen is the wife of a Congressman who is in turn Mike Shayne’s client.
Shayne has been hired to find Gretchen, who disappeared while Congressman Nick Tucker was in Washington continuing with his work as chair of the House Select Anti-pornography Committee. I think you can see someone’s going to wind up unhappy about this combination of events, and you’re right.
Bankrolling the film is a well-known Miami gangster whom Mike Shayne would dearly love to put behind bars. As he puts it, Frankie Capp is “on my list”. Unfortunately for Frankie, his execution-style murder of a woman was witnessed. Unfortunately for the witness, he thinks perhaps he can make some money from what he saw. If you think this review is jumping around a bit, it’s because that’s what the plot does. Things get very complicated very quickly, and in typical Mike Shayne style there are beatings, car bombings, beautiful women, robberies and a last chapter showdown orchestrated with the help of Shayne’s long time friend, the Miami Chief of Police.
I read one of these every six or eight months, and between readings I forget how much fun they are. They may not be for everyone, but for me they’re pure entertainment. If you haven’t read a Mike Shayne novel, it’s a good time to try one. I recommend one of the earlier ones, from the mid Forties to the late Fifties. A lot of these were printed, and copies are still available in used book stores and on line.
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More Friday Forgotten Book posts
can be found at Patti Abbott’s fine blog Pattinase