DONALD MacKENZIE Death Is  A Friend

DONALD MacKENZIE – Death Is a Friend. Houghton Mifflin; US, hardcover, 1967. First published in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton, hardcover, 1967.

   One of the reasons I bought this was because one of the crooks in this ill-fated crime caper is a stamp dealer by profession. (I used to collect the things before I discovered that once hinged into an album there’s nothing you can do with them.)

   Three men brought together by greed are splintered apart by distrust jealous hatred — yes, there’s a woman involved — and a fine portrayal of the fickle finger of fate.

   MacKenzie is not a particularly good writer, but he’s often an effective one. Except for the ending, which made no sense at all, this is a pretty fair example of the destructive effects inherent in some human relationships. There’s nothing in the plot that seriously depends on stamps, though.     (C plus)

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 1, No. 5, September 1977 (slightly revised).

[UPDATE] 03-01-12.   Donald MacKenzie was a very prolific mystery writer, with nearly 40 titles to his credit between 1965 and 1993. Sixteen of these were cases solved in one way or another by John Raven, a hardboiled inspector from Scotland Yard described by some sources as a “maverick.”

   When I wrote this review I did not realize it was the second of three books with Henry Chalice and Crying Eddie as the two leading characters. At this late date I do not know who they are or what role they had in Death Is a Friend. All I can tell you is that neither of them are the stamp collector I was talking about, nor (I am sure) either of his two accomplices:

       The Henry Chalice & Crying Eddie series —

Salute from a Dead Man. Hodder, 1966.
Death Is a Friend. Hodder, 1967.
Sleep Is for the Rich. Macmillan, 1971.