BRUNO FISCHER – The Fast Buck. Gold Medal #270, paperback original; 1st printing, November 1952. Cover art by Barye Phillips. Reprinted as Gold Medal s783. paperback, 1958.

   As a rule, not a hard and fast one, I don’t read books about crime and criminals, gangsters and their molls, or hoodlums and crooked cops. I do read “heist” novels, though, and sometimes books about slick-talking con men. I also make exceptions for crime novels from Gold Medal, and I always exclude books by Bruno Fischer, no matter what genre they may fall into

   Case in point, although there was one point at which I admit that was beginning to wonder. I’ll get back to that. Bert Peake is a two-bit hoodlum, his life is going nowhere, and he knows it. Desperate for a fresh break in life, he goes the wrong way and asks a childhood buddy for a job. The old buddy is now on top of the rackets in New York City.

   And Bert does get a job, one that will pay him $5000, although not on any regular payroll. No, what Lumm wants him to do is to kill a guy, target to be named later. That’s the opening, and it may be enough to get a lot of readers through the occasional rough patches tht lie ahead.

   To wit. Now that he’s in the money, he can have a girl move in with him, not an innocent my any means, but a nice girl, one he socks in the face when he loses his temper. At length she forgives him, but I don’t know as she would if she knew he was hanging out with a rich man’s daughter who thinks he is a brute, he proves it, and she is all the more attracted to him because of it.

   Overshadowing these ominous overtones, though, is a mystery to be solved, who does Lumm want to have killed, and why is he encouraging the romance between Peake and the rich man’s daughter?

   This is a complicated story, but at heart it’s also a simple one. Is the love of a good girl enough to pull a heel out of the morass he’s about to fall into? This is a book that doesn’t work on several levels, but Fischer somehow creates enough sympathy for Peake that the story manages to succeed in spite of itself. My opinion only, though, and I may change my mind tomorrow.