FINAL DOORS by Joe L. Hensley


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Hensley is the author of the solid mystery series featuring midwestern lawyer Don Robak, and two of the 18 stories in this unpretentious, varied collection involve Robak in some clever (though essentially familiar) trial tactics. Better, however, are Robak's ventures into plainspoken, black-comic crime vignettes. There are a few in the classic-Hitchcock-TV vein, with appealing villains instead of heroes: a plump matron who loses weight to catch each new husband, then gains it back as she kills each of them off; a wheelchair-bound orphan who, forced to live with his foul, greedy aunt, turns to homicide; a lawyer with gambling debts who desperately gets cash by doctoring a will; a con man who comes to a creepy end. And there are also some with a slightly more fantastical tilt--about a vigilante avenger operating on his instinct for ""Killer Scent,"" a pint-sized hired killer, or a Do-It-Yourself murder kit. (These last two choice items were written in obviously amused collaboration with Harlan Ellison.) True, Robak's forays into vampire/Satan fiction are much less effective. And much here is derivative or contrived. But the general level is a bit higher than in a typical mystery-magazine anthology; so readers who like their crime stories short, tight, and readable will find this a fair, sprightly gathering.

Pub Date: Dec. 4th, 1981
Publisher: Doubleday