Monday, April 22, 2024

Delilah Was Deadly - Carter Brown (Alan G. Yates)

It’s been too long since I read a Carter Brown novel, so I decided to pick up where I left off in Stark House’s reprinting of the original versions of the Al Wheeler novels published in Australia. DELILAH WAS DEADLY is the third book in the series and was never reprinted in the United States until this collection from several years ago.

In this one, Al is still developing into the character known so well to those of us who grew up reading the Signet paperback versions of the novels in the Sixties and Seventies. He still works for the police department of the unnamed city where the story takes place, and he reports to Commissioner (not Sheriff) Lavers. We have Sergeant Podeski giving him a hand instead of Sergeant Polnick. And Al is actually in charge of the Homicide Bureau in this one, having been promoted since the previous book.

Those differences are fairly minor. The case is the same sort that Al has tackled before and will again, many times. The body of a man who works as the social editor for a fashion magazine is found stuffed in a safe in the magazine’s office. He’s been strangled with a girdle. (If you’re wondering why a fashion magazine has a safe on the premises, it’s so that top-secret dress designs can be locked up.) Al decides to investigate the killing himself when one of the detectives assigned to the case is also murdered when he goes to search the victim’s apartment. More killings follow, as Al navigates a complicated plot involving a nightclub owner, a department store tycoon, an eccentric artist, and, of course, numerous beautiful young women, some of whom succumb to Al’s attempts at seduction.

Then, fairly late in the book, author Carter Brown, who was really Alan G. Yates, springs a pretty effective plot twist. The Carter Brown books were nearly always well-plotted, especially considering their length (around 40,000 words, I’m guessing). This one isn’t quite as complex as some but works well. Everything rockets along with lots of snappy banter, plenty of sexy hijinks, and enough action to keep things interesting. The title isn’t really justified until very late in the book and comes off as a bit of an afterthought by the author, but that’s it’s biggest weakness and it’s nothing to quibble about.

I had a fine time reading DELILAH WAS DEADLY and getting reacquainted with Al Wheeler. Luckily, I have plenty more of those Stark House triple volumes on hand, so I plan to get back to the series without much delay this time. These days, short, entertaining books are just what I’m looking for most of the time. If you want to give these a try, they’re available in e-book and trade paperback editions.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks James!