Steed, creator of the ever-less-charming Peter Marklin series (Clockwork, Chipped, Die-Cast, etc.), here introduces Thirties' sleuth Johnny Black--a disconsolate, benched ex-pilot (crash injuries) on his first private-eye case. Johnny's assignment: to prove that lothario Michael Seagrave arranged his wealthy wife's Isadora Duncan-style death (scarf caught in his Frazer-Nash's spokes). With an assist from blithe, socialite aviatrix Tracy King, along with chase cars supplied by gruff garage-man Bobby Briggs and his Mrs., Johnny's stalking of Seagrave leads to lovelorn ballroom-instructor Daphne Phipps (who soon disappears); her co-instructor Dolly (nicked in the shoulder); a 17-year-old heiress who outwits her parents' curfew at a seaside hotel; a sort of white slavery plot (necessitating another death); a pilot brother who ferries bodies and such to remote locales for dispersal; and, ultimately, to the cad's comeuppance. Much period detail for auto and aviation buffs, and many, many self-consciously dropped bits of Thirties slang, reading matter, current events, etc. Overall: strained, with only one truly charming character: Babs, the bump-into, doorknobs, overeager secretary.