RARA-AVIS: Mike Shayne

From: James Rogers ( jetan@ionet.net)
Date: 16 Dec 2000

   If you are the kind of guy who likes the high-end "literary" hardboiled types, then you probably had best stick with Dashiell Hammet, Chandler, and Ross McDonald. Ditto if you dig all sorts of Wlleford style atmosphere and tension. You don't get a whole lot of this stuff in Mike Shayne.

   On the other hand, if you thought that _The Wings Of A Dove_ might be okay if only it featured a tough PI, a sexy secretary, and a corpse then a Mike Shayne story might be right up your alley.

  A couple of months ago I read _Tickets For Death_ which I thought was a charming story with a tight plot and lots of good action and Florida color. It was pretty early in the series....number four according to our Rara-Avis approved bibliography. This time I read _One Night With Nora_, which was supposedly one of the last ones that Dresser wrote. The years had not improved things and one has to suspect that it was just as well that Dresser decided to bag it. The book is utterly perfunctory and the puzzle cheats a little bit, though you have guessed the murderer well ahead of schedule anyway. In the course of the book Mike gets framed for murder, meets the usual assortment of women and, of course, gets leaned on by the police. Does this sound like a description of almost every PI book you have ever read? The ghosted books in the series can hardly yield more perfect examples of pure anonymous product than does this entry. My recommendation is to stay with the early books in the series or try the ghost books.

   James Reasoner noted Shayne's culinary habits. I don't think the poor guy even manages to grab a cheeseburger in _One Night With Nora_, but he does drrink a fair amount - cognac mostly. Cognac? What kind of a tough guy drinks cognac? Marlowe was never the same after he started drinking those gimlets, either.


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