MALCOLM DOUGLAS – Murder Comes Calling. Gold Medal 776, paperback original; 1st printing, June 1958. Reprinted as Night of the Horns under the author’s real name, Douglas Sanderson (Stark House Press, softcover, 2015), paired with Cry Wolfram, originally published in the US as Mark it for Murder (Avon, paperback, 1959) and in the UK under this title. TV adaptation: An episode of the anthology series Detective, UK, BBC-One, 25 May 1964 (Season 1, Episode 9), as “Night of the Horns.”

   I’ve had this book for over 50 years without ever reading it. Shame on me. It’s a noir novel that starts slowly but once you hit page 40 or so, it’s non-stop action from that point on until an hour or so later when you’re finally able to put the book down..

   The story is told by Bob Race, formerly of the D.A.’s office but now trying to make a living as a defense attorney on his own, struggling even though his father-in-law is the richest person in town. Even after two years Race is madly in love with his wife Eve, but he’s only getting by, but he’s well-liked and getting his name known by working on the behalf of not-very-well-to-do defendants whom he’s convinced are innocent.

   Which is how he gets caught in this book’s worth of whirlpool of events that turns his life upside down and sideways at the same time, completely, utterly and forever. One of his regular clients is the town gangster, who offers Race a job, that of taking delivery of a single suitcase, contents unknown, for a short period of time. Race, smelling a rat, refuses, but Kresnik knows how Race helped get his latest defendant off. Although the end was right, the means was a small gift of money to someone he shouldn’t have.

   At this point Race is done for, although not without a fight. But wait, there’s more. The wife of his downstairs neighbor suggests that Eve is not the wholesome wife Race has always thought her to be. Can she be believed? Several murders later, during and following a madcap trip to Mexico and back, with the surprise assistance of an old girl friend, he’s much the worse for wear, he survives, but barely.

   Once read, this is one you may not forget. I think all the pieces fit together, but while you’re turning the pages, probably as fast as you can, you aren’t likely to even be thinking about that. It’s survival that’s at stake, and that’s all.