LEE McGRAW – Hatchett. Madge Hatchett #1. Ballantine, paperback original; 1st printing, October 1976.

   Chicago, the city with the gangster past, is now the stomping ground of a new private eye, one by the name of Hatchett, and although female, no lady is she. She drinks and swears with the rest of the boys, but make no mistake, she has the curves of a Raquel or Sophia as well.

   The slit throat of her ex-convict doorman sets her off in a case that leads to the city’s most recent Mr. Big, a mysterious organizer who’s steadily been taking over the rackets. Also involved is closet pornography mogul, dope peddlers, assorted goons and cutthroats – all the minor riffraff.

   This is Black Mask fiction – if only that magazine were still alive today. It’s tough and full of action, but there are plenty of intertwined plot threads as well — all connected up in a terrific double maze of deceit just about the time you’re ready to say it can’t be done. Both Hatchett and McGraw could do with a bit more style,though, and the violence seems to be there more for its own sake, rather than for any intelligent effect it has on its survivors.

   Maybe I was expecting something different from a female dick.

Rating: B.

–Very slightly revised from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 1, No. 2, March 1977.


UPDATE: While as you can see I didn’t exactly go way overboard with my praise for this book, I did spend a lot of time looking and waiting for the next one to come out. It never did. This was Hatchett’s only appearance. (I am puzzled why I didn’t use her first name in this review; I found it by coming across another review of this book online. I am also glad that I am not the only one who has read it.)

   It also turns out that Lee McGraw, which is a name could easily be that of a female author, happens not to be his real one. He was instead Paul Zakaras, whose only work of crime fiction this was.