Reviewed by STEPHEN MERTZ:

CARTER BROWN – Negative in Blue. Signet Q6220, paperback original; 1st printing, December 1974.

   I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart (or is it my head?) for Hollywood-based private eyes. Which is probably why, of the many series characters created by Australian mystery writer Alan G. Yates (who writes as Carter Brown), my favorite is Rick Holman.

   Holman bills himself as an “industrial consultant,” and specializes in clearing up nasty messes, invariably involving homicide, which film colony stars find themselves in, with causing any bad publicity for the stars or studios involved. He, like Shell Scott, is a direct descendant of my beloved Dan Turner, Robert Leslie Bellem’s wonderful Hollywood shamus of the pulps, and is one of the very few of the breed still active.

   This is the best Carter Brown of recent memory. Two opposing factions are involved in all kinds of skullduggery concerning the negative of an unfinished movie whose female star died of an overdose of barbiturates. A member of one of the factions catches a shotgun blast in the face, and Holman steps in to investigate.

   Although the process by which Holman solves the mystery is glossed over to the point of being ignored, the pace, as always with Brown, is excellent, building to a stunning, satisfying conclusion. If you haven’t yet sampled one of Brown’s more than a hundred novels, here would be a fine place to begin.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 1, No. 4, July 1977.