Talmage Powell – Start Screaming Murder (1962)


Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Performer
Date Finished: October 18, 2017

Tampa private investigator Ed Rivers is hired by a scared, beautiful woman, who happens to be a midget, to keep a man away from her. Ed runs into various thugs, creeps, and rich people (also creeps) in his quest, leading him to believe that there is more to the case than a persistent, unwelcome suitor. Turns out there is a missing $500,000 related to a plot to kill an unnamed Cuban leader. (C’mon, it’s Castro.) Despite various beatings, abductions, and shootings, Ed persists.

The fourth of five in this series, this one seems rather uninspired. The world of carny performers, including little people, is touched upon, but only tangentially. That would have been a new and creative setting, but rather we get thugs hiding out in a hotel and on a yacht. The tents on the cover, I suppose, are intended to depict a circus sideshow, but no performer of the type pictured appears in this mystery.

Vintage Silver Scavenger 2017-10-18


Lawrence Block – No Score (1970)


Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Hand Holding Weapon
TBR #78
Date Finished: October 8, 2017

A teen-age orphan attempts to find a path for himself, and have sex. There is no mystery here, despite the back cover’s attempts to repeat “It’s a Mystery.” The third and fourth books in the series are, but this first one is a coming-of-age with only a small scene of violence. Still, a somewhat humorous voice and a quick read.

Vintage Silver Scavenger 2017-10-08

Frank Kane – Time to Prey (1960)


Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Cigarette or Pipe
Date Finished: August 22, 2017
TBR #73
Follow the Clues step #74: from Hours to Time

Johnny Liddell is unknowingly slipped some mysterious papers in a bar by Chinese woman. Johnny is very shortly thereafter beaten by some thugs and the papers stolen. The woman, who was undercover for the Treasury Department investigating the smuggling of Chinese communists into the U.S., soon is found murdered. The man implicated in the murder is also soon found dead, an apparent suicide, though Johnny doesn’t believe it. He investigates and soon finds connections with a dockside racketeer, who soon frames Johnny for another murder.

A mid-series Johnny Liddell, this one never seems to flow together into any sort of believable mystery. The whole smuggling of communists into the country is never touched upon other than as a reason to have a Chinese woman appear in chapter one and die by chapter three. The villain is exposed early, despite all the efforts to make everything look like accidents, suicides, or frame others for the murders. Kane seems obsessed by mobsters operating on the docks as several of these stories revolve around that. This is the 19th one of these that I’ve read, out of 29, so perhaps I should set them aside for now.

Vintage Silver Scavenger 2017-08-22

Hugh Pentecost – Die After Dark (1976)


Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Any Other Animal
Date Finished: August 14, 2017

Follow the Clues step #72: from Before to After

A politician comes to public relations agent Julian Quist with a problem. A woman he has fallen in love with has been murdered. To prevent his campaign from being derailed, and to prevent his handicapped wife from finding out, he asks Julian to investigate. Julian has to investigate the woman’s past and her ex-husband to find out who she was involved with and who may have murdered her.

Although the public relations angle and Quist’s team of employees is an interesting and unusual angle for a detective story, the slight reasons he gives for investigating, and the complete acceptance by the police, are not realistic. Quist is also portrayed as some sort of golden god, as is his partner Lydia. He also makes a number of assumptions that never seem to go down the wrong path, though he doesn’t discover the rather obvious murderer until he is attacked.

Vintage Silver Scavenger 2017-08-14

Lou Cameron – Before It’s Too Late (1970)


Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Any Other Weapon
Date Finished: August 13, 2017
TBR #71
Follow the Clues step #71: from Too Late to Too Late

An ex-serviceman returns from Vietnam to his home town, somewhat disabled and looking for work. Now unable to get police work, he takes a job at a collection agency. The first assignment is to repossess a Corvette from a dangerous college thug. He easily repossess the Corvette, but the college kid turns up dead shortly thereafter. The police finger him for the killing, but soon turn him loose for lack of evidence and try to run him out of town. Many others try to do that as well, getting orders from some town bigwig, but he persists in digging around, amid a number of other mysterious deaths.

From the cover, I expected more of a juvenile delinquency/gang thing, but it is much more of a John D. MacDonald-style man vs. corrupt town thriller, such asĀ Death Trap. There are some hippie-type motorcycle-riding college students who do try to rough him up, but there is also Israeli-Arab espionage conflicts that play a much more central role to the plot. The resolution turns out to be rather far fetched, with a very convoluted plot to develop plague bacteria at the local beer factory for use on Israel. Still the writing and the execution turned out to be much better than I expected.

Vintage Silver Scavenger 2017-08-13

James McKimmey – Blue Mascara Tears (1965)


Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Curtains
Date Finished: August 10, 2017

Follow the Clues step #69: from White to Blue

An honest cop has to fight his own bureaucracy to bring a connected mobster to justice. A gambler with a large amount of money is killed just prior to paying off the mobster. The killer turns out not to be connected to the mobster, but the gambler’s wife soon turns up dead and the mobster and his men are implicated. The cop brings everything down to serve justice.

A good, brutal thriller that moves quickly. I’m very impressed with every McKimmey story I’ve found.

Vintage Silver Scavenger 2017-08-10b

Edward S. Aarons – Assignment White Rajah (1970)


Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Boat
Date Finished: August 10, 2017
TBR #70
Follow the Clues step #68: from Red to White

Sam Durrell is sent to Malaysia to search for lost U.S. fighter planes, somewhat undercover as a embassy official. He finds a city beset by riots and various political factions, including some connected to the old white ruling class family, one of whom was the original White Rajah. The fighter planes are to be used in the coup attempt and Durrell has to prevent that, while trying to recover the planes and deal with a run-down former mentor who may be a possible double agent. Of course, there are beautiful women, as well.

No new ground is broken here, but a competent espionage novel somewhat grounded in the reality of the Cold War conflicts in Southeast Asia. Diverting.

Vintage Silver Scavenger 2017-08-10