Friday, December 22, 2017

Brett Halliday - Marked for Murder

Shayne's wide nostrils flared and he felt a prickling in the back of his neck. He pushed the bedroom door wide open, turned on the light, and looked somberly down at the corpse of a young girl lying half off the bed. She wore a pair of black net stockings, the tops rolled above her knees. The rest of her slim young body was nude. She lay on her stomach with her right arm and leg trailing off the bed, her left leg stretched straight and taut with the toes pointing toward the footboard. Her left arm encircled a pillow, and there was dried blood on the pillow and on the sheet beside her breast.

Dell Books June 1959 - Cover by Robert McGinnis

Okay, I'm a sucker for paperback covers featuring beautiful women, especially ones painted by Robert McGinnis. There are tons of Mike Shayne novels with McGinnis covers, and I have a couple others on my bookshelf. In the 60's and 70's the Shayne covers were often photos of hot babes, in various states of undress, typically wielding a gun. These were never as cool as the McGinnis covers, for obvious reasons. As far as the Mike Shayne novels themselves go, they're perfectly serviceable reading if you're in the mood for a private eye novel. I've only read a few and the things I take away from them is that for a private eye, Mike Shayne is as famous as your average celebrity, and he drinks a shit-ton of brandy. Most P.I.'s drink bourbon, or scotch. but it's brandy for our pal Shayne. And he's hot with the ladies too. He's also smarter than the cops, particularly Peter Painter, the Miami Beach police chief. But all in all, he's a decent Joe to have in your corner.

This is an early Mike Shayne mystery, going clear back to 1945. By then he was famous enough to already star in a handful of films from 20th Century Fox. He'd also star in radio and TV, and scads of more novels. I noticed that there are a lot of them available on Kindle, but I prefer the old paperbacks, for obvious reasons. Anyway, this is, I believe, the 12th novel in the series, and written by Davis Dresser. Ghost writers under the Brett Halliday name would take over the later novels.

In this one, Mike Shayne is called back from New Orleans to go after whoever it was that shot his reporter pal, Timothy Rourke. Rourke had been hot on the story of a series of murders where the victims had all recently struck it big at various casinos in Miami Beach. All of the casinos are run by the syndicate, in particular a hood named Brenner. Each of the victims was found with a .32 slug in their heart only hours after being seen in the company of a hot blonde dish at the casino. Rourke's crusade has everyone pissed off at him, the cops, Brenner, and Rourke's boss Walter Bronson. Rourke is warned off the story and given a beating by Brenner's thugs, and is found a few hours later in his apartment, near death from, you guessed it, a bullet to the chest. And wouldn't you know it, the last person seen leaving his apartment was a hot blonde babe!

This novel was a fast read, well-paced and with enough twists and angles to never get boring. And, as Shayne himself says a more than a few times, "There are too many blondes!" Yeah...I don't know if you can ever have too many blondes around. Just as long as none of them are packing a gat, I'm okay with it.


  1. I read a Dell mapback edition of this many years ago and remember enjoying it a lot. The Shayne series is at its best in the Forties.

    1. Hi James, thanks for commenting. One of the things I really enjoy about these older novels is picturing what Miami must have been like back in the 40's. I wish I had a time machine to visit it. It must have been quite a city! I hope you have a great holiday and New Year!