Tuesday, June 07, 2011

"The Unholy Three", by William Campbell Gault

From: Joe Puma, P.I., Wonder Publishing Group, 2010.

Johnny Delevan is a 12-year-old kid with a problem. This isn't a problem he can talk to his parents about (they're dead), or a teacher, or a priest. Instead he takes this problem to the neighborhood private investigator, Joe Puma.

The problem: he doesn't like his sister's boyfriend.

His sister Eilenn is twenty-three, and the head of the household now, and she's started seeing a slick, handsome character named Jean Magnus. Despite the fact that Puma is on his uppers once again and can't afford to turn down paying clients (Johnny has a paper route), he gently suggests that maybe the kid is a little jealous. Johnny, cheesed off, tells him what's what and storms out.

And that doesn't sit right with Puma. He kept turning it over in his mind, looking at the angles, and finally he decides it won't hurt if he asks a few questions. So he does. In particular, he looks up an old acquaintance, Lenny Donovan, now the house detective at Magnus' hotel.

The next morning, Donovan has disappeared.

William Campbell Gault was one of the leading private eye writers of the 1950s before he began writing sports stories for the juvenile market, which was more lucrative. The stories in Joe Puma, P.I. all date from that decade, and they're excellent. If you like this kind of thing you'll love this book. If not, it might change your mind.

1 comment:

August West said...

The Joe Puma short stories (which originally were featured in MANHUNT in the 50s) are just as good as the Joe Puma novels.

All are great!