Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Kill Now, Pay Later (Robert Terrall, 1960)

Cool, old-school PI mystery. It does not start very glamorous though - Ben Gates is hired by an insurance company to watch over wedding presents at the reception. Job somehow inapt and inadequate for any great detective soon turns into the murder investigation as our hero tries to clear his name in order to stay in sleuth business.

All the right hard-boiled ingredients are there: wealthy old family with a dominant patriarch and wild Junior (expelled from Yale and Princeton), few scheming dames with a dubious morals and questionable past, couple of murders, a robbery, tax evasion, a blackmail, dirty pictures, smut movies, corrupted private detective, unscrupulous police officers etc. Story is good and complex just enough, told straightforward without much twists in our favorite first person type narration.

But something's missing. Style is smooth enough but language could be more colorful and would definitely benefit with more slang and/or witty jokes. Pace at the beginning is great but somehow drops just when plot starts to thicken. There are almost 200 pages between corpses which understandably effects suspense building.

But still it left me wanting more and it was pretty disappointing to discover that Mr Terrall (aka Robert Kyle aka Brett Halliday aka John/Jose Gonzales) wasn't too prolific and Ben Gates series contains just five entries. All of them out of print and hard to find. I did see some of his novels on eBay and Amazon's second hand offers. Would appreciate any suggestions?



Ben Gates, PI, 34 years old

Countryside outside the New York

Body count: 4

Anna DeLong, indispensable secretary who likes to keep control. Shelley Hardwick party society girl who's "In hock to more people". Hilda Faltermeier - part time maid.

Yes:  "Somebody slugged the goddam coffee." It's a pivotal for the story because right away at the start Ben gets drugged : "The voices cut in and out, as thought they came from a TV set with a poor connection.... I reached for the corner of the table, but it was gone by the time my hand got there. The walls had begun to change places."

No contract killers in this one so I'm not really sure who was suppose to do either the killing or the paying. But still of course extremely cool sounding title!

Sexy, done again by Hard Case Crime regular Robert McGinnis. Redhead looks hot and her look is as provocative and suggestive as they can be! But it needs to be said that her right leg seems to be a bit out of proportions. Maybe Mr McGinnis has a thing with the long legs (who doesn't btw) because he has extended another one on the cover of Little Girl Lost. Anyways, this time I'm also including an older cover which is even better!

Cool lines:  
She had fewer buttons on her skirt that I had thought at first. Even with close scrutiny, and this is a matter which I like to give close scrutiny, I could only count one.

"And you do want to go on being a private detective?"
"I think so. I don't know of any other job where you meet so many peculiar people."

"I don't like other people to handle my gun," I said. "It's one of the things I'm eccentric about."

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