ROBERT COLBY – In a Vanishing Room. Ace Double D-505; paperback original; 1st printing, 1961. Published back-to-back with The Surfside Caper, by Louis Trimble.

   Put an ordinary guy in a decidedly non-ordinary and dangerous situation and see how he does. That’s the basic premise, and while I’d have to tell you that the book itself is quite forgettable, an out-of-work advertising account executive named Paul Norris does all right for himself, mostly by finally getting himself out of the funk he’s been in for several months.

   There is a MacGuffin involved, a shipping crate filled with something valuable, but what exactly, no one will tell him. In the process of tracking it down, making his way from Miami to New York City to San Diego, he finds caught up in an adventure filled with multiple shady characters, beautiful women and double crosses galore. Who’s on who’s side? You’d need a scorecard to know for sure.

   It’s a minor story with no frills in the telling, and short, at only 127 pages long, but its action-packed content zooms right along with the speed of how fast the reader can turn the pages. One good gimmick is a room in a basement in which Norris and a female companion have a deadly encounter with a killer. When they go back with the police the next day, not only is there is not a room in the basement, there is not even a basement.

   Try that one on for size the next time you want to go adventuring.