MICHAEL COLLINS – Freak. Dan Fortune #11. Dodd Mead, hardcover, 1983. Worldwide Library, paperback, 1990.

   One-armed Dan Fortune is hired by Ian Campbell, president of a computer firm, to find his recently-married youngest son and daughter-in-law. The couple have sold the house he gave them, cashed in some bonds and vanished. The only clue left behind is one word, “Freak”, written several times on a pad by the telephone. On starting his search, Fortune discovers he has competition in the hunt from someone leaving a trail of bodies.

   A pretty good effort, with interesting characters and a surprising (at least to me) twist at the end. Sometimes I suspect, though, that Collins forgets his hero has only one arm. The conclusion takes place in the wilds of Arizona, and Fortune has rented a rifle, which he doesn’t get a chance to use. While I’m sure that with proper time to set up his sights, a one-armed man could make a perfectly acceptable marksman, but I couldn’t help wondering if a rifle would have been Fortune’s weapon of choice for a running shoot-out.

— Reprinted from A Shropshire Sleuth #42, November 1989.