Thursday, May 2, 2013

Inland Passage: Review

Well-known for his hard- to semi-hard-boiled crime novels and characters created in the Black Mask pulp magazine, George Harmon Coxe's Inland Passage would seem to be a stand-alone, more straight-forward crime fiction novel.  Sure, there are some gangster-types lurking about, but the focus of the mystery is more of a simple whodunnit than most gangster-oriented stories.

Knox Randall had taken a bruised heart and three thousand dollars with him to Florida.  His plan included wine, women and song (well...good times, anyway)--enough to help him forget the girl back in New York who had bruised his heart.  He is down to his last three dollars and forty cents when a newspaper ad catches his eye.  A Mr. Perry Noland is looking for an experienced sailor to run his boat up north--payment of a small sum up front and whatever Randall can earn from taking on passengers for a pleasure cruise up the coast.

It sounds ideal to Randall and soon he has hired first mate/steward/cook to help with the duties and has rounded up a full complement of passengers.  But all is not what it seems--from the initial hire to passengers traveling under assumed names to gangster-types following the boat by land.  The owner of the boat is found shot to death and the first mate isn't long for this world either.  Randall, an advertising businessman by trade, begins to wonder just what kind of a job he's taken on.  He knows that there is some sort of sleight of hand going on beyond the murders and, having fallen for one of the passengers, he makes it his business to get to the bottom of things.

And get to the bottom, he does.  This was an interesting, fun, and fairly light crime novel from the '50s.  Randall is a great character and most of the other characters are flushed out with few mystery stereotypes.  He plays his final wrap-up scene well--with a nice bit of action thrown in.  A pretty fairly clued mystery--I had my suspicions about the villain of the piece, but didn't quite put it all together.  Three stars for a solid mystery.

Challenges: 150 Plus Reading Challenge, Outdo Yourself, Vintage Mystery Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, Off the Shelf, A-Z Reading Challenge, Mystery/Crime Reading Challenge, Embarrassment of Riches, Monthly Mix-up Mania

1 comment:

Ryan said...

I want, I want, I want this one..... where you have a penchant for academic mysteries, I seem to have a love affair with those that take place on the water.