WILLIAM WOODY – Mistress of Horror House. Ace Double D-379. Paperback original; 1st printing, 1959. Published back-to-back with Drink with the Dead, by J. M. Flynn.

   In spite of the lurid title — attempting to attracy who know what kind of person — this is a PI novel, and if you’ve never heard of Houston McIver, this is the only appearance he ever made in print. It’s also Woody’s only mystery. at least under that name.

   The locale is El Paso, and there would be no story if McIver’s beautiful client and her aristocratic grandfather bothered to tell him exactly why they hired him. Counterfeit plates? Pancho Villa’s treasure? A blackmailing ex-husband? International espionage?

   In spite of the cover and the title, this is not a very good book. Just to give you a better idea how generally inept it is, when McIver is hunting for either the plates or a stash of gold and silver (he doesn’t know which), he calls the chief of police and requisitions both a Geiger counter and a mine detector, neither of which does he know how to operate. Luckily they both come with a manual.

— Reprinted from Mystery*File #22, June 1990.