MICHAEL AVALLONE – Little Miss Murder. Signet T4616, paperback original; 1st printing, May 1971.

  For a while in his long career, Mike Avallone’s favorite PI, Ed Noon, did double duty as “the only private investigator in captivity who works for the Man” — the Man in the White House, that is, the President of the United States. Spy biz, that is. And this particular episode in Noon’s career was prompted (apparently) by Michael Avallone’s being so entirely captivated by the Mets’ Miracle Year of 1969 that he wrote the whole story around it.

  Microfilm inside a baseball, that is. With Noon a courier who is to pick it up from British(?) Intelligence(?) and pass it on to the CIA. All goes well, except that a nun is stabbed (and turns out to be a man), Noon is followed home on the expressway by a 70-year-old lady who drives like A. J .Foyt, and is kidnapped (along with lady friend Felicia Carr) by a gent with a face like a reassembled pudding.

  It all turns out well, of course, with the usual wheels within wheels that all good spy fiction is supposed to have, all of which could have been eliminated if someone had simply said, “This is dumb, why don’t we just do this instead.”

  No story, that’s why. Other than that, this is the story of a man who loves (and is loved by) two beautiful women at the same time, the other being Melissa Mercer, Noon’s long-time secretary (who is black), and wouldn’t you know it, when the two ladies finally meet, they become friends as well. Strictly a male fantasy, and if you happen to be female, you’re welcome to observe, but you’re not invited in.

— This review has been shortened from its first appearance in Deadly Pleasures, Vol. 1, No. 4, Winter 1993 .