BRETT HALLIDAY – Murder Is My Business. Dodd Mead, hardcover, 1945. Dell #184, paperback, mapback edition, no date stated [1947]. Reprinted many times thereafter, including Hard Case Crime, paperback, 2010.

   A post-war adventure for PI Michael Shayne, or if not, it takes very close to the end of the hostilities. It’s a complicated affair, involving possible enemy spying and/or the luring of American soldiers based in the area of El Paso, Texas, across the border into Mexico in order to pump them for secrets they may have picked up in passing. There’s also a silver mine involved, and competing claims of whether a vein has run out of not.

   It also involves a gent that Shayne had run into before, not in a friendly fashion, who is now running for mayor, and a broken love affair involving that same gentleman’s daughter. The plot’s a mixed bag of false trails and two dead bodies, one stripped naked for reasons no man (nor Mike Shayne) can figure out why, plus a gun, a murder weapon, shot three times, although the aforementioned daughter claims she only fired it twice.

   Everything ties together at the end, I believe, but as a plot for an otherwise smoothly written murder mystery, it’s all a bit too much. But take another glance at the words “smoothly written.” As a wordsmith, Brett Halliday in the 1940s was one of the best. Even though Shayne was far off his New Orleans stomping grounds at the time, this one goes down nice and easy.