MARK PHILLIPS – The Impossibles. Kenneth J. Malone / Psi-Power #2. Pyramid F-875, paperback original; 1st printing, June 1963. Previously serialized in Astounding SF in three parts as “Out Like a Light,” April-June 1960. Reprinted under this title but as by Laurence Janifer & Randall Garrett by Resurrected Press, trade paperback, 2011.

   The first in this series, concocted in high comic fashion by SF writers Laurence Janifer and Randall Garrett, was Braintwister (Pyramid, 1962), in which intrepid FBI agent Ken Malone meets up with a telepathic old lady who thinks she is Queen Elizabeth. The third and last was Supermind (Pyramid, 1963), in which he tangles with … well, you’ll have to tell me, as I haven’t read it yet.

   In this one, though, he meets up with a gang of kids in New York City who … well, I can’t tell you that, since that’s the mystery that Malone is called on to solve. Let me say that it begins with Malone lying flat on his back on a Greenwich Village sidewalk, having been sent to the big city to investigate a series of strange incidents involving red Cadillacs — only Cadillacs, and only red — that are being stolen and taken for joy rides all over the metropolitan area, but with no one being able to see who’s taking them or or even who’s behind the wheel.

   Truth be told, as a novel, The Impossibles is a minor affair, but the pleasure comes from watching Malone tackle the unknown in a wink and a nod sort of way, and then as he tries to explain to others what he comes across. That and passages such as this one, chosen from very early on in the book:

   Very slowly and carefully he opened his eyes again, one at a time. […] He closed his eyes again and waited for his head to go away.

   A few minutes passed. It was obvious that his head had settled down for a long stay, and no matter how bad it felt, Malone told himself, it was his head, after all. He felt a certain responsibility for it. And he couldn’t just leave it lying around somewhere with its eyes closed.

   All in all, a series that’s a lot of fun to read, but there’s no way I could call it essential.