MARVIN ALBERT writing as NICK QUARRY – The Girl with No Place to Hide. PI Jake Barrow #3. Stark House/Black Gat Books #34; paperback, October 2021. Previously published as by Nick Quarry: Gold Medal #938, paperback original, 1959.

   The Girl with No Place to Hide is one of six Jake Barrow novels that author Marvin Albert wrote for Gold Medal as paperback originals back in the late 50s and early 60s, all as by Nick Quarry, one of his various and sundry pen names. Walking home from high school every day around this same time, I’m sure I bought my first copy from one the two spinner racks in the front of the supermarket along the way.

   I’m sure that its lurid cover had something to do with my spotting it and snatching it up right away. (The cover of the Black Gat reprint is perfectly fine, but forgive me, Greg, I still like the original, and it isn’t pure nostalgia that makes me think so.)

   Jake Barrow tells the story himself, so it isn’t exactly clear what he looks like, a PI whose home base is New York City, a town which he knows his way around in quite well, but if I were casting him in a TV series, say, Dane Clark would be my first choice. In this one, he doesn’t have a client for quite a while, but someone eventually volunteer himself as one, so Barrow not only has the satisfaction of solving the case, but he comes off satisfactorily in a financial sense as well.

   The tale begins with a girl – a good looking one, of course – who is obviously on the run from someone or something, but even though Barrow tries to help by inviting her up to his apartment for safekeeping, the sanctuary he offers is far from good enough, and the girl ends up dead there.

   What follows is what seems like an ordinary PI novel from the 50s, complete with sleazy characters, muscle guys, gamblers, boxers, shady gigolos, and more attractive women than you or I would probably meet all year, but Jake does it in less than a week.

   You have to take the bad with the good, though. Barrow gets clunked over the head more times than I could keep track of, which so far hasn’t happened to me yet this year, knocking on wood.

   Hidden amidst all of this action is, believe it or not, a better than average detective story, tangled in more threads than you might think, assuming that this is yet another ho-hum PI story, which while it’s not Hammett or Chandler level, it also most definitely is not as well.