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The Double Take – Roy Huggins

The Double Take – Roy Huggins – originally published in 1946, I read the kindle edition (2015) from NightHawk Books (188 pages).

Set in the mid nineteen thirties Los Angeles where shamus Stuart Bailey gets a job to investigate a news wife’s past for a city planning commissioner. The case itself seems somewhat suspicious,  but he agrees to take. And sets off for Portland, where she’s from as far as her college transcript says. I had to look us ‘shamus’ on a blog of slang terms. I thought it might be a term for a generic irishman, but nope, it’s an old slang term given to private detectives like gum-shoe or dick.

Well, the case takes Bailey from Portland back to LA and seems he’s picked up a couple of tails along the way. Well, mobsters and along casino, a marine biologist and him luscious young Brazilian wife and her chauffeur,  a vaudeville performer or two and this case gets a bit crowded round the middle.

But it’s all sorted out in the end… what’s a dead body or two along the way. Huggins didn’t write too many books but rather went on to fame and fortune in producing! Shows like 77 sunset strip… and … draw upon the images you can see in this book…

  The mouth stayed hard and drew apart into a tight smile, a smile to carve diamonds with. She made a sharp noise in her throat and turned suddenly and ran down the four steps to the sidewalk. She looked back at me.
“You cheap gumshoe,” she rasped quietly. “I finally figured you out. You’re yellow.” Cold laughter. “You’re too yellow to even live up to your own manhood.” She turned and jumped into the car. The motor ground and roared, and then she leaned out the open window and screamed, “I’ll send my houseboy around to see you. He’s just your type.” The car jerked and jumped away from the curb and raced toward Wilshire in an agony of grinding gears.

  

Robert B Parker’s Backjack – Robert Knox

Backjack This is Knox’s third novel continuing the tales of the old west’s Marshalls Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch. Now I haven’t read any westerns since I’ve been in school many moons ago, but I do love the Spenser and Jessie Stone novels. So, I figured I would try this book simply because it quite literally fell into my lap while I was looking for something else in the library. So, I considered it providence and checked it out.

The writing is very straight-forward, loose, and easy to digest. The scenes are written with clear imagery and I do get the ‘feel’ of the old west. The story lays itself out in a good pace. Boston Bill is in town connected with the construction of a new casino in the quick-growing town of Appaloosa. He’s accompanied by a couple of hired hands to serve as bodyguards… seems Bill has left some trouble behind in Denver, but persons connected with that pursue him to Appaloosa.

It does not end well for the pursuer. This brings men of the Denver constabulary for Boston Bill. Light of foot and swift of steed, Bill and associates flee with our marshals in pursuit. Both trouble and violence ensues. Then the capture and subsequent trial of Boston Bill.

But wait! There’s more. Bill wrangles free of justice’s tentative grip only to be chased again, and caught again. But what we find in the chapter just before the final chapter, crashing in from dead left field… the solution to the ‘trouble’ in Denver.

There have been other Parker novels where the ending came right up out of nowhere, but few so abruptly, and this ending may not have come from the heart of nowhere, it was probably near nowhere’s spleen. But it has not deterred me, but rather encouraged me to order the first in the Cole / Hitch novel Appaloosa from amazon… just to see how Parker writes these men.
In closing, a quote from Boston Bill himself…

“Before,” he said, “I met this beautiful woman, I never knew any one brighter, smarter, or kinder … but then there was always … I don’t know, something unusual. There were glimpses of someone other than her, within her, someone other than the bright, smart, and kind woman I got to know and love. I never was certain why I moved away from her but I knew there was something …”