CARTER BROWN – The Stripper. Signet S1981, paperback original; 1st printing, August 1961. Cover art: Robert McGinnis. Reprint paperback: combined with The Brazen, Signet Double Novel, 1981.


   Pine City homicide cope Lt. Al Wheeler is called to the fifteenth floor of a hotel where a young woman, Patty Keller, is on an outside ledge. At 3 pm she decides to come in, but as she edges along she doubles up in agony and falls to her death.

   Doc Murphy’s autopsy shows she had had an injection of a powerful emetic, but there was no hypodermic in the hotel room. Sheriff Lavers tells Wheeler that the girl had just one relative in Pine City, a cousin called Dolores Keller, known as Deadpan Dolores, a stripper who strips with no facial expressions.

   Dolores tells Wheeler that Patty had joined a lonely hearts club run by Mr and Mrs Arkwright. They tell him that Patty had had just one date, with Harvey Stem. Meanwhile Wheeler takes a shine to the receptionist, Sherry Rand, and arranges to take her to see Dolores perform.

   At the club he notices the supposedly shy Harvey Stem drinking champagne with two of the strippers and meets sinister club owner Miles Rovak and his henchman Steve Loomas. After the club Wheeler takes Sherry back to his apartment where, to the accompaniment of Duke Ellington, courtesy of AI’s hi-fi, Sherry demonstrates what she has learned of the art of striptease.

   The story goes back and forth between the strip club and the lonely hearts club, another death occurs, and Dolores decides to cosy up to Wheeler before he puts everything together.

   This is not the best Al Wheeler that I have read, not that any of them should be taken seriously, of course. The plot is rather so-so, but it is an enjoyable read, with most of the regulars, including Murphy, Lavers, Sergeant Polnik and Annabelle Jackson, showing up.

Editorial Comment: Coming soon to a blog near you, Geoff’s review of Carter Brown’s The Stripper: The Musical.