LOUIS TRIMBLE – Stab in the Dark. Ace Double D-157; paperback original, 1957.

   A bit of preamble before I get to the review itself. Earlier this month I read and reviewed the other half of this Ace Double, that being Never Say No to a Killer, by Jonathan Gant, a pen name of Clifton Adams, an author probably better known for his western novels for Gold Medal.

   Having the book out and in my hands, it was quite natural for me to read the other half, a story I thought I’d like better, as it is a private eye novel, which I always enjoy, and the Gant book being rather derivative in nature, reminding Dan Stumpf in particular of Horace McCoy’s Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, as he so stated in an early comment to that post.

   Well, trying to make a long story shorter, it’s been a struggle to finish the second half of the book, the novel by Trimble. So far I’ve been reading it at night just before bed, and managing to move along a a lizard’s pace of maybe 30 pages a night. I’m not finished yet, and I think I will continue on with it, but after reading a review I wrote of the book back in 1991, perhaps I will concede, saying that sometimes retreat is the better part of valor.

   Here’s what I had to say the first time around:

   Louis Trimble wrote a host of second- and third-rate detective novels through the late 1940s, 50s and early 60s, and this is one of them. During that same time period he also wrote a lot of westerns, many [also] packaged as halves of Ace Doubles, and somehow ended up writing science fiction, of all things, before he was finished.

   Since Hubin doesn’t state otherwise, this one turns out to have been the only appearance of PI Paul Knox. He’s apparently a man of some wealth, having inherited some money, quit the police force, and joined an world-wide private detective agency. On this case, he’s after a huge pornography/blackmail ring, but his contact at the Winton hotel is dead on his (Knox’s) arrival, an icepick in his eye.

   A few curious matters arise, but most of them — like the business of the whiskey bottle and Cora Deane’s missing panties — are merely thrown away [FOOTNOTE] and although it goes on for 171 pages, long by Ace Double standards, the basic flaw in this mystery is one that’s fatal by any standards. It;s dull, it’s not very interesting, and it’s boring.

[FOOTNOTE] and [WARNING:   Extremely Minor Plot Alert.] The titillating bit with the whiskey bottle and the panties — well, it kept me thinking about it quite a while — is finally described on p. 167 as “Red herrings … just foolishness, really.”

   In other words, it didn’t mean anything, anything at all, and it never did. It was something thrown in just to tweak the reader’s interest, and it wouldn’t [be] worth mentioning if it weren’t for the fact that it’s the only bit of the plot that’s worth mentioning at all.

— Reprinted from Mystery*File 29, March 1991.

[UPDATE] 01-28-15.   I’ll probably skim on for a while on my current and second go-around. But this is discouraging. It’s been the only thing keeping me going and here I have my own review showing up in timely fashion to tell me to forget it.