A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review by Bill Crider:


JACK WEBB – One for My Dame.

JACK WEBB One for My Dame

Holt Rinehart & Winston, hardcover, 1961. Hardcover reprint: Detective Book Club [3-in-1 edition], October 1961. Paperback reprint: Avon G1218. UK edition: T. V. Boardman [American Bloodhound #378], hardcover, 1962.

   Jack Webb the mystery writer is not Jack Webb the actor. Jack Webb the mystery writer never played Sergeant Joe Friday, and he never wore badge 714. Instead, Jack Webb the mystery writer produced a number of entertaining books featuring a priest, Father Joseph Shanley, and a detective, Sammy Golden, as well as two exceptional thrillers.

   One for My Dame is a thriller that Hitchcock should have filmed. It has all the elements: an innocent man, for over two years a prisoner of war in Korea and now the owner of a pet shop, who has information that Mafia killers want; a beautiful girl on the run; a great supporting cast, including a character actor who lives in model homes, a Great Dane, a hill monkey, and a myna bird who shouts things like “Watson, the needle!”; and even a lovely blonde.

   The pace is brisk, the style is literate, and there’s enough action to satisfy nearly anyone. This is the kind of book that one reads in a single sitting, looking up surprised to discover how fast the time has gone by. The resolution seems a bit drawn out, but the rest of the book more than compensates.

JACK WEBB Brass Halo

   Webb’s other thoroughly entertaining thriller is Make My Bed Soon (1963), a little bit tougher but every bit as much fun. The best of the Shanley and Golden mysteries are probably The Big Sin (1952), The Brass Halo (1957), and The Deadly Sex (1959).

   Webb also wrote several novels under the pseudonym John Farr; two of these — Don’ t Feed the Animals (1955) and The Lady and the Snake (1957) — feature well-realized zoo backgrounds. Another good Farr novel is The Deadly Combo (1958), whose chief appeal is an expert depiction of jazz music.

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   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.