Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Clue of the Leather Noose: Review

It was not only the actions of the two women which worried him. Mystery stalked grimly amid the shadows of the old house. (p. 62)

Watson Gregg is found murdered on a public boardwalk during a quite busy hour of the day. In fact, no less than four people approached him in his rolling chair near the time of his death. His death is an odd one--strangulation with a yellow, leather "necklace." And he is a man that will be mourned by few--a cruel man who has wooed and discarded women as it suited him and who had no problem using men such as his doctor with no regard for them as human beings. But which of his associates hated him enough to kill? Was it the young woman who sprang from his chair distressed and crying? Or one of the other women who paused to talk with him on the boardwalk? Or maybe it was the tall man who seemed to share a joke with this humorless man? Or perhaps there was someone who wasn't noticed at all? Captain Jerry Blake has his hands full tracking down motives and suspects and the young lovers in the case, Larry and Lannon, aren't sure whom they can trust.

This one has a very pulpy, very B-movie feel to it--that doesn't prevent it from being a lot of fun.  You have the evil man done to death--with plenty of people with motive to wish him dead--from Larry and his jealousy to Gregg's current women (who may realize that Gregg is starting to tire of her) to his discarded wife to his overworked, underpaid doctor to his tormented servant to the hardened criminal-type with shady connections. You've got a blackmailer and an inscrutable Japanese servant and a slightly wacky "coloured" maid who seems to have a thing for spirits and "debbels" (although her devils are of a more human nature). 

You've also got the menacing tall man who threatens Lannon--who in standard B-movie fashion can do nothing practical about her predicament but screech loudly, freeze firmly in place so the villain can grab her, and wait for her handsome hero to come to her rescue.

Lannon looked about her wildly. There was something about this man that was utterly terrifying. She did not know what to do. (pp. 137-8) 

Which, of course he does--and once he realizes that Lannon really does love him and is rooting for him to knock the baddie's block off, he really sets about it properly. This pleases Lannon to no end...

After all, one can get a mighty big kick out of having two men fighting over you! Particularly when one is only twenty. (p. 147) 

So...you've also got a lot of action and fist-fights and sneaking around in the dark and under the boardwalk and through spooky, old house. And to wrap it all up, you've got Captain Blake rounding up all the suspects and witnesses and pointing the finger of suspicion at each one before finally Revealing All. Is it original? No.  Does it play fair? Not particularly--the good captain has a few clues stuffed up his sleeve which we never got a peek at. But it is good clean fun and a pleasant hour or two of reading. 2.75 stars.

This fulfills the "Murder Method in the Title" square on the Golden Vintage Bingo Card and was actually finished on March 31, 2014.


Yvette said...

It does sound like fun, Bev. Never heard of it of course - no big surprise there. :) I've been reading a few vintage things along with my library load from a couple of weeks ago. Got my hands on another Delano Ames. Have you read him yet Bev? I love his books.

Also reading a book by M.M. Kaye which I don't ever remember reading but that I know I must have. You know how that goes.

In the meantime, I've made of note of The Clue of the Leather Noose. Thanks for the intro.

Bev Hankins said...

Yes...I've read one (maybe two) of Ames's books and I've got another two sitting on the TBR pile (one is due up for a challenge or three this year). I do enjoy his books.

fredamans said...

Great review! Sounds like a whole lot of stuff going on at once!

J F Norris said...

This guy wrote some very weird books. I had a copy of this a long time ago, but I sold it before I could read it. But I did read HUNCHBACK HOUSE. It's even more pulpy with the added bonus of the old dark house with lots of secret passages and death traps. But my favorite is HONEYMOON IN HELL. In the opening chapter the protagonist wakes up in bed with a bear!

J F Norris said...

Oops, the book is called HOMICIDE HONEYMOON. See, even I make a mistake every now and then. With thousands of books floating in my head I'm bound to mix up a title or two.

Bev Hankins said...

John: This one isn't really weird (unless you count the cackling woman babbling about spirits and whatnot)...certainly nothing compared to waking up in bed with a bear. Not a bad book--just not top of the line.

And...of course, you've got him in your head. You've got them all! ;-)

Ryan said...

I wonder what I would make of this one. There are times pulpy works for me, others it doesn't.

Bev Hankins said...

It is fun...as long as you're not expecting a brilliant mystery, you'd probably like it.