ELLIOT WEST – The Killing Kind. Houghton Mifflin, hardcover, 1976. No US paperback edition.

   It starts fast, beginning just as private detective Jim Blaney takes out two hoodlums seen shooting a pair of undercover cops, and from that moment on, events flow in a swirling multitude of directions: a missing wife and some stolen diamonds, a raid on the home of a Las Vegas casino owner, a daughter strung out on an overdose of heroin, a $150,000 reward out the window when a client is murdered — or is it?

   That’s not all. Blaney has woman trouble as well, being happily divorced and 30 years older than his secretary, who wouldn’t at all mind his moving in with her. He may have found the case he can retire on, and if straddling the limits of the law will do it, well, maybe it’s worth the chance.

   Two murders need a solution, however, and if there’s a weakness in the tale West tells, it’s that it takes some questionable behavior on Blaney’s part before his deductions can be made to work — an objection outweighed in my mind by the many fine pages of character development and suspenseful action, with action the key ingredient of the mixture. (If you’ve come to think that I’m biased in favor of tough private eye yarns, I’d have to say you’re right.)

Rating:   A

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 2, No. 4, July 1978.

Note:   Of the five novels by Elliot West included in Al Hubin’s Crime Fiction IV, this is the only one in which PI Jim Blaney appears.