Sunday, December 16, 2018

Just Around the Coroner: Mini-Review

I've gotten behind on my reviews again, so this one isn't going to be very detailed. Just Around the Coroner (1948) is the first of three books that Louis Trimble (as Stuart Brock) wrote about post-World War II private eye Peter Cory. Cory has tough guy characteristics, but is a former tennis pro with an uppercrust background and the suits that give him a more wealthy and polished look. His boss Boldman, of Boldman Investigations, wants to send him to the Swank Town Hotel to discreetly investigate a string of jewelry thefts. He describes it as a pretty cushy job:

"Let me get this straight," he [Peter] said. "I live in this hotel and try to pass for a guest. I get a room and meals."

"And all you got to do is keep your eyes on the fancy dopes that live there." Boldman spread huge hands. "Pretty soft, Pete. A nifty room, meals, service, a classy address, your girl-friend working in the same building--"

Pete naturally wants to know what the catch is. Nothing much. Just that Paul and Nick Cotten, two men that he has previously had a run-in with, are co-owners of the place. And Nick Cotten hasn't exactly forgiven and forgotten. In fact, Nick would like nothing better than to pin Pete to the wall.

Pete will encounter two guests who check out the hard way--permanently; a bloody souvenir in a certain lady's handbag; missing jewelry that no reported stolen; a hank of hair dyed gray; a receipt book that's gone missing that the owner (and others) would love to get their hands on; a story of fake antiques...and genuine antiques with a secret all their own. There are also bribes and sordid secrets and an ill-timed strip-tease. Our hero has his hands full and is going to have to work overtime to earn his pay...and the something extra that is on offer once the murders start happening.

I can't say that this one really held my interest. The opening chapters were good--great depiction of post-war life. Good set up of Pete in the hotel. And then, inexplicably, all the action begins happening and the story manages to lose momentum. Brock's (Trimble's) mystery plotting isn't all that and I wasn't even surprised when the reveal came along. ★★ --just. Mostly for the opening and that lovely Dell Mapback cover.

Finished on 12/1/18.


Steve said...

Hi Bev

I've just attempted to read this one, and I gave up right around the time where you said you lost interest. For example, I didn't understand why, when the Cory and his girl friend found the murder weapon (or maybe not??) they didn't make a bigger fuss of it, including turning it over to the police. I may have to read that portion over again, but I just didn't think the characters in the book acted as anything but the author's puppets in general.



Bev Hankins said...

Steve, yeah, I didn't get a whole lot of this one. Not one of the better Mapbacks, that's for sure.