Mostly my musings on things vintage hardboiled and noir, literary and filmic and other things that take my fancy. Down these mean streets this man must go...

Monday, 6 December 2010

Kiss The Killer by Joseph Shallit (Avon 528)

Dan Morrison runs a South Philadelphia youth center and is surprised when a local pharmacist called Paul Sardona - who is also a member of the center's Board of Trustees - shows him a reefer that he claims was peddled to his son Vincent by the son of another Board member.

Wishing to avoid a scandal, Dan, assisted by psychology student and part time center employee Linda, decides to track down and apprehend the peddler. Linda soon decides that this case could provide source material for her forthcoming thesis, and discovers more than may be safe for the pair, particularly when the case takes a murderous turn. And as the pair's investigations continue, the skin of respectability is gradually peeled back to reveal some unsavory and unpalatable truths.

The first person flashback narrative initially promises a more noirish tale than this rather routine hardboiled thick-ear effort delivers. The marijuana scare stuff almost certainly tapped into genuine early 50s post-war fears about youth running wild, but now reads more as shrill and alarmist; particularly given the lack of pharmacological accuracy.

Overall, then, this is strictly formulaic stuff featuring cardboard characters who spend much of their time batting chunks of plot back and forth in an exposition-heavy style that kills the pace. There's never any doubt that the implausibly jut-jawed hero will crack the case and win the girl, but it's all accomplished in perfunctory fashion - one or two plot twists notwithstanding - and is more of a soft-boiled than hard-boiled experience.

VERDICT: Dope-y!

AFTERWORD: After reading this review which was scribbled several years ago, I have to admit that it has failed to prompt any recall as I still remember nothing about this book. Nada, zero, zilch. I still have this author's rather wonderfully titled Avon paperback Lady, Don't Die On My Doorstep, which also features Dan Morrison as well as a great front cover quote ('I wanted to grab, rip and mangle the punk who did this to Dotty') and cover art showing Morrison standing over a decorously posed female corpse and may well give it a go one day in spite of Kiss The Killer's underwhelming nature. Oh, and sorry about starting with one of the negative reviews. It's the first one I shook out of the pile.

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