IT’S ABOUT CRIME, by Marvin Lachman

GAYLORD DOLD – Bonepile. Ivy, paperback original, 1988.

GAYLORD DOLD Mitch Roberts

   Bonepile by Gaylord Dold, the third Mitch Roberts novel, is more ambitious than the Rafferty book by W. Glenn Duncan (reviewed here ) but ultimately less satisfying.

   Dold is another writer to be commended for moving the private eyes’ mean streets from New York and Los Angeles to more unusual locales. In this case it is a rural farming community in Kansas where Roberts, on vacation from Wichita (“…the world’s largest small town”), has gone to recuperate. One can feel the heat and wind blowing off the plains, imagine walking through the park in the middle of town, and understand the people, including their worship of the St. Louis Cardinals.

   The book is set in 1956, but Roberts in true Lew Archer fashion permits guilt to cause him to try to solve a 1940’s murder. Unfortunately, Dold, like Archer’s creator, suffers from a severe case of a disease I believe I was first to diagnose and name: “metaphoritis.”

   Its primary symptom is overwriting, with swelling of metaphors, those necessary usages which transform ordinary into very good writing. When poorly used, as in Bonepile, we get such lines as “Night grew in me like a tumor” and “The tree itself creaked as if its heart were broken.”

   Sometimes, in an effort to be imaginative, Dold is merely anatomically unsound as he writes, “Sweat filled my mind and overflowed.” I suspect that the reason for all the overwriting and padding is that this time around he had too slim a plot and, based on the unsatisfactory ending, didn’t know how to conclude his book.

   Yet I perceive real writing talent here, and Dr. Lachman suspects this case of metaphoritis will not be fatal.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier,
Vol. 11, No. 1, Winter 1989.

      The Mitch Roberts series —

Hot Summer, Cold Murder. Avon, pb, 1987.

GAYLORD DOLD Mitch Roberts

Snake Eyes. Ivy, pb, 1987.
Bonepile. Ivy, pb, 1988.
Cold Cash. Ivy, pb, 1988.
Muscle and Blood. Ivy, pb, 1989.

GAYLORD DOLD Mitch Roberts

Disheveled City. Ivy, pb, 1990.
A Penny for the Old Guy. St. Martin’s, hc, 1991.

GAYLORD DOLD Mitch Roberts

Rude Boys. St. Martin’s, hc, 1992.
The World Beat. St. Martin’s, hc, 1993.
Samedi’s Knapsack. St. Martin’s, hc, 2001.