William Campbell Gault – The Bad Samaritan (1980)

BadSamaritan

Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: Why — It’s by an author you’ve read & loved before
Cloak and Dagger Challenge #57
Date Finished: May 13, 2018

Brock Callahan, for Los Angeles Ram, back after a 17-year break, is still a struggling private eye in Los Angeles until his former uncle-by-marriage dies in an auto accident and leaves Brock half of his fortune. Brock and his long-time girlfriend Jan quickly get married, move to suburbia and join the upper crust crowd that first appeared in a previous novel in this series. Bored with his retirement, he soon starts investigating matters for friends, including the supposed suicide of the mother of one of his new friends. That woman was known as a social activist, helping out various poor residents and living in a trailer park. Brock works with the local police force, with whom he has clashed in the past.

I was very disappointed with this underwhelming return of Brock Callahan after his long break. Being suddenly wealthy seems to take some of Brock’s sadness and motivation away, though the constant criticism of Jan toward his poverty and profession was getting old. Here it seems large portions of the book were missing, as the murdered woman’s character was never fully developed, nor is the plotting developed as Brock just seems to wander around talking to people until he finds an obvious clue, with very little suspense or ingenuity. After seven mysteries between 1955 and 1963, perhaps the Callahan character had run its course, but Gault returned to him for seven more between 1980 and 1992. I’ve been very impressed with Gault’s work in the 1950s-1960s. Hopefully the remaining books in this series will be closer to his potential.

Just the Facts Silver Card 2018-05-13

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