Friday, June 14, 2019

Forgotten Books: Tall, Dark and Dead - Kermit Jaediker

Tina Van Lube is being blackmailed by a disreputable ex-lover, so she hires detective Lou Lait to get her incriminating love letters back. All in a day's work for Lait. Except for one small detail--the disreputable ex-lover, columnist Erskine Spalding, is found dead with a knife in his back. Suspects abound: Tina's husband Jan, disfigured war hero; Tina's hot-headed brother, Stanislaus; Coates, the recently-fired butler; plain-but-dedicated secretary, Prescott; the gun-running Colonel; the social-climbing Durkins...even Lolita, the dancer. They all had their reasons for quieting the nasty gossip columnist. Lait's making it his job to find out who did the deed.

This novel was published originally in hardback in 1947, then reprinted in paperback in 1951 by Lion Books. It's included in the latest Trio of Lions volume from Stark House, coming out later this month. It's a really entertaining private eye novel that's considerably different from Kermit Jaediker's other novel HERO'S LUST, also reprinted by Stark House. The style in this one is more breezy and lighthearted, with a wise-cracking protagonist and a cast of eccentric characters. And yet there are also some pretty violent scenes and one particularly harrowing one where the private eye has to escape when some of the villains have captured him and intend to torture him. All in all, this hits the marks very nicely and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Both of Jaediker's novels are excellent, and it's a shame he didn't write more.

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