From: James Reasoner ( james53@flash.net)
Date: 22 Nov 2002

I've been on a Frederick Nebel binge this week, read the Mysterious Press collection from the late Eighties called THE ADVENTURES OF CARDIGAN, which reprints six novelettes from Dime Detective, plus two more Cardigan novelettes in the anthologies TOUGH GUYS AND DANGEROUS DAMES and HARD-BOILED DETECTIVES. These stories are about Jack Cardigan, an operative for the Cosmos Detective Agency, and since Cosmos is a nationwide outfit, they take place in New York, St. Louis, San Francisco, an unnamed Midwestern city, and a fictional East Coast resort town similar to Atlantic City. I thoroughly enjoyed them. The plots are fairly simple but with enough twists to be interesting, and Nebel writes in a style that's fast-paced without being overly terse. Not much characterization--Cardigan doesn't seem to have a life beyond his job--but that's all right given the time period in which they were written. Nebel isn't on the same level as Hammett and Chandler. He's not the prose stylist they were, nor is there any sense that he's doing anything other than writing fast-moving, entertaining stories. But judged on that basis, he's very successful and well worth reading.


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