RARA-AVIS: Brett Halliday/Davis Dresser: WHEN DORINDA DANCES (1951)

From: Todd Mason ( Todd.Mason@tvguide.com)
Date: 10 Jan 2003

Several novels and a decade on from the Mike Shayne short story I cited in commenting on DAMES, DANGER, DEATH, Dresser is clearly getting a little tired of the big redhead. Shayne is a bit too easily flummoxed, his reporter buddy capable of putting a little too much together for him...of course, if Shayne wasn't constantly downing cognac and icewater (or cognac and coffee) and not sleeping, it might help his reasoning ability. Some of the bad old tropes found in the likes of the Saint stories (the ridiculously well-known sleuth, which presumably can't help his work much--the last time I remember a PI getting a lot of press w/o being enmeshed in scandal was J. J. Armes a quarter-century ago, he of the artificial arm much tricked out. I must admit I don't know if the press was more interested in PIs a half-century ago) and others are popping up in this mildly entertaining story, along with (most of) Dresser's characters' enthusiasm for artful ecdyasts and the New Deal, and corresponding hostility to puritans and McCarthyism. Wonder how brave the latter was at the time. Probably not a little, but, as with anti-red-baiting sf of the time, most cf was probably not taken seriously enough to be worthy of the HUAC-types' grandstanding...unless the story was filmed or broadcast. TM

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