Fri 12 Aug 2011
JACK IAMS – A Shot of Murder. William Morrow, hardcover, 1950. Dell #722, paperback, 1953.
When a young American woman, Nita Romaine — a night club singer — disappears in Eastern Europe, recently married reporter “Rocky” Rockwell of the Riverside, Ohio Record manages to talk his editor into sending him and his bride to Europe in order to look for her — the missing woman’s fiancé being a local man.
It isn’t long before Rocky realizes that someone doesn’t want him to be successful. A man mistaken for him is thrown over the side of the ocean liner transporting them, and efforts are made in Paris to get him entangled with the French police.
Rocky is helped in Paris by Mrs. Pickett, the paper’s society columnist but is forced to go to Poland alone (though an attractive French woman with reasons of her own for going to Poland attaches herself to him) and continue his search.
From reading the dust jacket, I gather that this was the third book in a series in which Mrs. Pickett was the lead character. Mrs. Pickett is something of a Rosalind Russell type. In this book, however, Rocky is definitely the major character.
If I were to compare this with another series I would say it was entertaining in the same way that Manning Coles’ Tommy Hambledon novels are entertaining. Lightweight fluff, that is, a pleasant read, but about as realistic as a three dollar bill.
One wonders how big a city Riverside, Ohio, is and how a local paper can afford to pay to send a reporter and his wife gallivanting through Europe.
Bibliography: [Taken from the Revised Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin]
JACK IAMS, 1910-1990.
The Body Missed the Boat (n.) Morrow 1947.
Girl Meets Body (n.) Morrow 1947.
Death Draws the Line (n.) Morrow 1949.
Do Not Murder Before Christmas (n.) Morrow 1949 [Rocky Rockwell; Amelia Pickett]
What Rhymes with Murder? (n.) Morrow 1950 [Rocky Rockwell; Amelia Pickett]
A Shot of Murder (n.) Morrow 1950 [Rocky Rockwell]
Into Thin Air (n.) Morrow 1952.
A Corpse of the Old School (n.) Gollancz 1955 [Amelia Pickett]
Editorial Comments: Al seems to have missed Amelia Pickett as a character in A Shot of Murder. Perhaps her role was small, but I’ll still send him a note to make sure he knows. It’s interesting to see that Iams’ last book, another Amelia Pickett novel, was never published here in the US.