Monday, March 12, 2012

Wake for a Lady: Review

Wake for a Lady by H. W. Roden is the third short novel in a Detective Book Club 3-in-1 omnibus. I already read the other two for the Vintage Mystery Challenge and decided I might as well finish off the book while I was at it. That would be the only reason I can give for reading this one.

It's a mean streets of New York City, tough guy, private eye kind of book. It's gangsters and their mouthpieces and guys toting gats. And talking in the most incredible cliches. ("... if I ever run out of ice cubes on a hot night I hope she's around to talk to my Frigidaire. It was that kind of voice.") With women named Gorgeous--Gorgeous O'Hara. Really. The kind of book that I don't really do much of.

So....what we have. We have Spike Madigan, owner of Madigan's Dry Cleaning & Pressing Shop (and all its affiliates). Found dead in the offices. Last person known to have seen him--Gorgeous O'Hara whose one goal in life is to go to Hollywood and make it in the movies. She thinks Johnny Knight will make that happen--even though he's just a PR guy for toothpaste and whatnot. He's also friends with Sid Ames, private eye, a fellow who's hopefully gonna keep Gorgeous out of the slammer. And the longer the book goes on, the better that prospect looks. Because there are suspects crawling out of the woodwork. There's Madigan's wife who says she didn't take much notice of his philandering ways (but gets pretty worked up discussing it nonetheless) and Madigan's stepson who detested him. There's Tony Farino who is known as (but not proven as) a gangster-type behind booking agencies and shady clip-joints. There's the money missing from Madigan's safe...and the clue of the wandering fingerprint. And more action than you shake a stick at.

And somehow it just never comes together. I kind of like Gorgeous. Even though she's got her one-track movie mind going on (popping up to ask Johnny what he's doing about her contracts at the most unlikely moments), she still manages to rescue Johnny from the tough guys. No wilting violets here. Best character in the bunch. But I didn't like the rest of the regulars enough to seek out any more books by Roden. One and a half stars.


J F Norris said...

Well, this seals Roden's fate in my book. After reading a handful of reviews all pretty much negative I'll never be sampling any of his books and I have three of them in this warehouse of a home.

(eerie coincidence: one of those word verifications is "unroded")

Bev Hankins said...

Yeah, John. Not the all-time best. With the winking "broad" on the cover, you'd think there'd be more humor in the thing. Not so's I noticed.

I like the word verification. A definite comment on the book. :-)