A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Newell Dunlap:


OLIVER BLEECK – The Brass Go-Between. William Morrow, hardcover, 1969. Paperback reprints include: Pocket, 1971; Perennial Library 1983,1987.

OLIVER BLEECK Brass Go-Between

   Ross Thomas uses the pseudonym Oliver Bleeck for his entertaining Philip St. Ives books. These are fast-paced stories with first-person narration, reminiscent of many private-detective novels.

   But St. Ives is not a detective, he is a professional go-between — that is, he acts as an intermediary between such parties as kidnappers and the kidnap victim’s family, insurance companies and thieves, etc. He has built a reputation in this strange profession and people on both sides of the law seem to trust him.

   In The Brass Go-Between, the first book of the series, he is dealing with the Coulter Museum in Washington, D.C., attempting to recover a huge brass shield that has been stolen from the museum’s Pan-African collection.
OLIVER BLEECK Brass Go-Between

   But there is more to the shield than meets the eye. Not only is it historically priceless, it is also a magnificent work of art. Add to this the fact that at least two opposing African nations claim rightful ownership and it becomes obvious many people would like to discover the whereabouts of the shield.

   Naturally, all this complicates St. Ives’s job as he encounters many of the interested parties along the way: Winfield Spencer, a rich and reclusive art collector; and Conception Mbwato, a giant emissary from the African nation of Komporeen, to name but two.

   This and the other Oliver Bleeck titles — Protocol for a Kidnapping (1971), The Procane Chronicle (1972), The Highbinders (1974), and No Questions Asked (1976) — are distinguished for their crisp dialogue, unusual backgrounds, and understated sense of irony. Qualities, of course, that Thomas also infuses into his novels published under his own name.

         ———
   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.