Another vintage case from the days in the early 1950s before McBain created the 87th Precinct and broke away from the pack.
You might think it’s not literary agent Josh Blake’s day. Soon after he arrives at the offices of Gilbert and Blake, he finds his partner, Del Gilbert, shot to death, the safe in his private office rifled. The most worrisome item that’s missing is the contract novelist Cam Stewart signed granting Gilbert and Blake radio and television rights to Stewart’s bestselling Westerns in perpetuity for $500—a document Del had planned to use to extort a major piece of the action from the impending sale of Stewart’s work to Hollywood producer Dave Becker out of Carlyle Rutherford, the agent handling the sale. Even worse, the firm’s only photostatic copy of the contract is stolen from Josh himself as he’s leaving the apartment of Lydia Rafney, Del’s secretary and lover. And Detective Sgt. Sam Di Luca, who’s working the case, makes no secret of his suspicion that Josh is the killer. On the other hand, the day isn’t a complete loss. Josh wakes up in the company of Janice, a half-clad blonde he doesn’t remember from the night before, and two other comely ladies proposition him before the sun goes down. (There’ll be a third forward pass the next day from a most unexpected quarter.) The complications are juicy, the combination of menace and sexual availability irresistible, and McBain’s gift for inventing a full range of wacky episodes already in full flower. Only the solution itself disappoints.
As a bonus, fans can savor “Now Die in It,” a moody, overwrought 35-page case for disgraced detective Matt Cordell, who also headlined the story appended to So Nude, So Dead (2015). If this sounds like your cup of bourbon, it most definitely is.