DELL SHANNON – Chance to Kill. William Morrow, hardcover, 1967. Pyramid T2388, paperback, January 1971.

   After reading Marv Lachman’s review of Dell Shannon’s Mark of Murder (and see the comments following), I was prompted to give this one a try again, a book I hadn’t read in over 45 years, Chance to Kill.

   As a police procedural it deals with more than a single murder. To quote the dust jacket blurb: “Two heist men wanted for double homicide…the body of a young punk in an alley…the corpse of a girl in a dry riverbed … in fact, everything more or less routine for Lt. Luis Mendoza and his colleagues in the Los Angeles Police Department.”

   Then things go really bad because the murdered girl is a policewoman and she is black. (Of course, in 1967 that meant referring to her as Negro.) Interesting characters and situations. So many of them are described as “nice and ordinary.” The quest for another Kipling for Mendoza’s collection comes up from time to time, but seems to serve no purpose except to add a new dimension to his character, along with references to his family when he goes home at the end of the day.

   His dialogue is sprinkled with Spanish phrases to show he is Latino. He picks up a handful of Kipling titles and quotes from him (the only thing Kipling means to his co-worker Hackett is the phrase “the white man’s burden”).

   I found the prices of things in 1967 interesting. Was everything that affordable in 1967? I didn’t think so at the time. The solution is revealed plausibly and points to a character I hadn’t really noticed. Mendoza ends by going home to his family, his wife, the twins, the cats, and there is a Kipling he has yet to read. Someone told him there was a story in it with a message about doing a good job. He might take the day off and read that.

   Not much politics here, but there is a hint of how liberal things are getting, but you find that in a lot of popular fiction in 1967. Linington/Shannon was active in the John Birch Society. Someday I’ll have to look at some of the Mendoza titles on my shelves from the later years.