Sunday, July 17, 2005
Strip for Murder
When I was trading emails with Chuck Fritch about his private eye books, he mentioned that he thought one of them was a rewrite of his Ace Double, NEGATIVE OF A NUDE. At the time he suspected it might be PSYCHO SINNER, which turned out to be a different Mark Wonder novel. Well, I now know that the rewrite is STRIP FOR MURDER, published by Kozy Books in 1960 under the pseudonym Eric Thomas. I read it yesterday and today.
STRIP FOR MURDER is a very loose rewrite of NEGATIVE OF A NUDE. It uses some similar characters and situations, but in the end it’s different enough to consider its merits as a novel on its own. The detective here is called Christopher Sly instead of Mark Wonder, but the difference is in name only. In appearance, personality, and narrative voice, he’s exactly the same. (Mark Wonder does get mentioned in this book, though, when one of the characters says to Chris Sly, “You mean you’re really a private eye like Mike Hammer, Shell Scott, Mark Wonder, and Philip Marlowe?”) As in the earlier book, Sly is hot on the trail of a blackmailer who’s threatening a beautiful girl, in this case a stripper named Coral. Things get a lot more complicated than that before Sly tracks down a killer. It’s an entertaining story, very much in the same mold as early Sixties private eye TV series like 77 SUNSET STRIP and SURFSIDE 6. The plot, the banter, and the beautiful girls would have been right at home on those shows. The sex would have to be toned down, of course, but not much. I enjoyed this book enough so that I’m going to have to hunt down some more of Fritch’s Eric Thomas books.
By the way, “Christopher Sly” is the author of at least one novel, SEVEN DEADLY SINNERS, published by Athena Books, the publisher of PSYCHO SINNER. I’d be willing to bet that one is by Fritch, as well.
Page count today: 16.