Friday, February 15, 2019

Forgotten Books: Blonde Verdict - Carter Brown (Alan G. Yates)

The original edition

BLONDE VERDICT (the title of the original Australian edition) is the second book in the Lt. Al Wheeler series by Carter Brown, who, as you all know, was really English ex-pat Alan G. Yates. A revised version was published in the U.S. by Signet under the title THE BRAZEN, but the real deal is available in Stark House’s great series of omnibus reprints of the Al Wheeler series, from the start in chronological order.

This is still not quite the Al Wheeler those of us who grew up reading the Signet editions know and love, but he’s pretty darned close. Or rather, Al is the same guy, but his supporting cast is slightly different. He works for Captain Parker, and the police commissioner is named Lavers. In the Signet editions, Al is a sheriff’s department investigator working for Sheriff Lavers. There’s a Sergeant Mcnamara mentioned, but no Sergeant Polnick.

A later, retitled Australian edition

Doesn’t matter. Al is still the same wise-cracking hotshot with an eye for beautiful babes, of whom there are plenty in this book, starting with the blonde Al is with in a nightclub when one of the other patrons drops dead at his feet. Turns out the guy is a lawyer with a beautiful wife who hates him, a beautiful mistress who’s really in love with somebody else, and a partner with a good reason to want him dead. Oh, and there’s the gangster who was being represented by the dead man in a murder trial, and the even bigger gangster that guy works for, and . . . But you get the idea. Lots of suspects for Al to interrogate and cheerfully insult, and plenty of babes to come back to his bachelor pad and listen to his hi-fi with him, as well as giving him an alibi when he’s accused of one of the many murders that take place.

An early Signet edition

It’s hard to believe any book could race by faster than this one. It’s like an early Sixties Warner Brothers private eye TV show several years before there even was such a thing. Great pace, funny lines, a very likable protagonist, and a workable plot. I’ve been reading Carter Brown books for more than fifty years now and still really enjoy them. Thanks to Stark House for reprinting these original editions, and I hope there are many more to come. (A second collection is already out, and a third one is coming soon.)
Later Signet edition with Robert McGinnis cover


Scott D. Parker said...

I've always seen these books out and about. Is there any reason to read them in order? I ask because I followed the link here for the other collection and the one at the SF convention looks pretty interesting and fun.


James Reasoner said...

No, you can read them in any order. That's what I've always done, although I'm reading the series from the first since these Stark House editions have started being published.

Sonny Garrett said...

Would you happen to know if Stark House has any plans to reprint any of the Maizie Seidlitz novels?

Gerry said...

I'd also like to see a Mavis reprints. I know James has said he doesn't care for Mavis as much, but I like her. I'd also like to see some Larry Baker reprints - I really got a kick out of those as they often had a supernatural theme.

James Reasoner said...

I don't know of any plans for Mavis reprints, but I'd think that might be possible at some point. And I'd certainly read them. I think I've read only one of the Larry Baker books, but I recall enjoying it.

Walker Martin said...

Stark House is doing some excellent reprints and this summer has scheduled a collection titled THE BEST OF MANHUNT. I've preordered it on amazon even though I have all the magazines.

James Reasoner said...

I'm looking forward to THE BEST FROM MANHUNT. It'll be interesting to see which stories they choose. There are a lot of good ones to pick from!

Scott said...

I preorder the latest and waiting for the arrival.