Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Too Good To Be True: Review

Too Good to Be True (1948; aka The Dolphin Mystery AND Dead Man Friday) is the only mystery written by J. F. (Joy Ferris) Hutton. It is set in California and features Don Paulson, who, after being decommissioned by the army, finds himself at loose ends and decides to take an offer of employment as a trouble shooter and sometimes glorified errand boy from Ray Menke--one of California's most prominent businessmen. Menke Enterprises which owns two major companies and dozens of smaller concerns is the most successful operation Paulson has ever seen. 

Paulson's first six weeks goes along just fine. Then Menke sends him to convince a fabulous precision instrument man by the name of Zensler to join the Menke team. He's not to take no for an answer. But "no" is all Zensler is willing to say. He does direct Paulson to another man who might be willing to work for the businessman, but when Paulson enters Abner Solex's shop he finds the man dead with his head bashed in. That's just the beginning of his troubles--Inspector Bradley doesn't seem to think he's as innocent as he claims. And then when more dead bodies--of people whose paths have crossed Paulson's--turn up, it looks like the inspector is giving him just enough rope to hang himself. Paulson is determined to figured out the clue left by the dying man and his amateur investigations take him to an exclusive nightclub, a restaurant called the Dolphin Cafe, and a secluded cabin in the woods. But it will be a tiny little clue and an old children's rhyme that will lead him to the truth.

This is a fairly straight-forward mystery. Paulson is a decent main character--reminding me of Archie Goodwin and Donald Lam...except he's no side-kick to a great detective; he's on his own when it comes to investigating. He's not quite in Goodwin's or Lam's league, but he does a fair job of detecting all on his own. The author makes a good effort at fair play and honest clueing, though I didn't get the solution before the wrap-up. There is a bit of a cheat at the end--if a certain thing hadn't happened right when Paulson was trying to convince Inspector Bradley of the culprit's guilt, they probably would would have gotten away with it. Solid mystery with interesting characters. It makes me wonder what Hutton could have done if she had written any more. ★★

This counts for the "Skeletal Hand" category on the Golden Vintage Scavenger Hunt card.

1 comment:

fredamans said...

I think I'd pass on this one.