Monday, March 25, 2013

Sally's in the Alley: Review

Sally's in the Alley is the second book by Norbert Davis starring the plump, wisecracking private eye, Doan, and his canine companion, Carstairs.  This comic take on pulp fiction's hard-boiled private dick brings Doan into contact with some mysterious G-men.  The Feds convince Doan to track down a man by the name of Dust-Mouth Haggerty who is supposed to know the location of a stake of unique ore--a commodity that the USA would like to get their hands on for the WWII war effort and one that operatives from the other side wouldn't mind grabbing for themselves.  Doan's hunt takes him to the bizarre little town of Heliotrope where the Sheriff charges rent for the inmates to inhabit his cells and the local doctor does duty as the coroner and the local undertaker.  You might say he has cornered the market on life and death.  If you want to stay healthy, you'll want to eat plenty of apples so you can keep this doctor away for good.

Working with Doan is his right-hand dog Carstairs, a Great Dane who is so big he just might need his own zip code.  Carstairs loathes alcohol and being shot at.  He doesn't care much for new faces, but will tolerate a pretty one if its owner treats him right. Oh...and he believes that he's brains of the operation and that Doan works for him. Doan and Carstairs have quite a few adventures and meet some interesting people--from a collection of corpses that would do the doct.....undertaker proud to the lovely film star Susan Sally to the zany and talkative Harriet Hathaway who is on a mission to join the WAACs.  Along the way Harriet picks up "Mr. Blue" a vague man who says he didn't even know a war was going on.  Add a treasure-hunt drive in a Cadillac in a desert rainstorm with a flash-flood for good measure and several folks who aren't quite what they seem; shake well, and pour out for madcap adventures and comic antics.

This book was just plain fun.  A screwball private eye tale with lots of action and plenty of fast-talking on the part of Doan.  Norbert Davis paired up his private eye with an animal long before it was cool and pulls it off without making Carstairs too cutesy (as if a Great Dane the size of a Shetland pony could be cutesy).  The interactions between the two are funny and realistic....I can just see Carstairs harrumphing over some of Doan's shenanigans.  And Davis takes you from one loony character to another and it all fits so nice and snugly in this lovely vintage mystery.  Four stars.

Challenges: 150 Plus Reading Challenge, Outdo Yourself, Off the Shelf, Mount TBR Challenge, Embarrassment of Riches, Vintage Mystery Challenge, 52 Books in 52 Weeks, Mystery and Crime Challenge, A-Z Mystery Author Challenge, Monthly Mix-up Mania, What an Animal


Peggy Ann said...

I read The Holocaust House. I still have this on my ereader to read. Looking forward to it!

Ryan said...

Sounds like a lot of fun. I'm going to have to remember these books for next year.

Anonymous said...

You're right about the Doan & Carstairs books, Bev, they're great fun and pretty good PI mysteries as well. And Carstairs really IS the better of the two detectives.

Yvette said...

Sounds good, Bev. I never heard of this author before (why am I not surprised?) but trust you to come up with another writer I have to familiarize myself with. The list GROWS and GROWS!!

I like books with dogs too, so that's an added plus.