Monday, August 24, 2015

Keep Cool, Mr. Jones: Review

In Keep Cool, Mr. Jones (1950), Ed "Jupiter" Jones has grown up, left Harvard, stopped professoring--although he's still an academic at heart, and moved to the country for the quiet life with his lovely wife Betty and a nice place to raise their children. He's put amateur detecting behind him. Or so he thinks. That works just fine until the night of the annual square dance (in aid of raising funds for the local library) at Jack Maney's place.

Somebody decides to lock Maney and three of his guests in the walk-in freezer when he takes them on a tour to show them his pheasants. There are many people in the community who may have wanted to get their own back on Jack Maney--whether through a practical joke or an attempted murder. But who could have wanted it so badly that they would include three innocent people? What may have been at best an ill-considered practical joke soon leads to definite murder and revived rumors of a long-lost treasure add a certain spice to the speculations.

Maney's wife "Slim" asks Jones to investigate and, of course, Jupiter can't resist poking his nose into another case...Slim is pretty difficult to resist as well. She promises him a reward that even the dedicated family man can't resist. But before he can earn the reward, he'll find that nearly every male in a 25 mile radius was interested in Slim to varying degrees--he just has to figure out if that's germane to the case; he'll have to decide whether Slim deliberately shot her husband in the leg; he'll have to find $90,000 in gold as well as a disappearing Indian; and he'll have to out-track a bloodhound and out-talk the killer in a dangerous grand finale.

This story is the fifth and final entry in Timothy Fuller's series starring Jupiter Jones. Jones starts his sleuthing career as a graduate student in Harvard Has a Homicide when his advisor, Professor Singer is murdered. The detective bug sticks with him through grad school through his term as a professor himself and then, when a convenient relative dies and leaves him enough money to exit the academic world, in semi-retirement. He's supposed to be working on a book in the relaxing little town of Saxon, but he quickly sets that aside when a murder rears its ugly head.

Jones is full of breezy, witty conversation and the story provides a nice feeling of the post-war period. The wit and social commentary are smoothly integrated into the tale, making for an enjoyable read. As is well-known here on the Block, I do love those academically-inclined amateur detectives and Jones is perfect. He has an educated wit without being pedantic and his academic mind helps him ferret out the details necessary to solve the mystery. The characters are fleshed out as nicely as one could hope for in a short (160 page) crime novel and they add plenty of local color. A good, solid post-war read. ★★ and a half.

This fulfills the "Man in the Title" square on the Golden Vintage Bingo card and gives me one more Bingo.

1 comment:

fredamans said...

Sounds like a book that would be interpreted perfectly as a film. Great review!