MAXINE O’CALLAGHAN – Hit and Run. Delilah West #3. St. Martin’s, hardcover, 1989; paperback, January 1991. Brash Books, trade paperback, February 2015.

   The count above of Delilah West’s does not include the short story “A Change of Clients,” which appeared in the November 1974 issue of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, The date is worth pointing out because what it means that as a modern day female PI, Delilah West came along several years before all of the more famous ones, who showed up later: Sharon McCone (1977), Kinsey Millhone (1982), or V. I. Warshawsky (also 1982).

   In spite of the lack of fame for Mrs. West, the good news is, according to the Thrilling Detective website, “in July 1999, at the Eyecon, held in St. Louis, the Private Eye Writers of America righted that wrong, and very deservedly bestowed The Eye, its Lifetime Achievement Award.”

   Hit and Run was published in paperback by St. Martin’s as part of their “Mean Streets” line of books they were promoting at the time, but I think that’s only because Delilah was a private detective in general, not because she traveled down streets any meaner than any of those the mostly sunny town of Santa Ana in southern California.

   The case begins with her living in her office, business being so bad, and being nearly run down by a young half-Hispanic kid who leaves another man dead in street before speeding off. Thanks to Delilah’s ID of the car he was driving, he is soon arrested for the man’s death.

   Surprisingly enough, hiring Delilah to prove the boy’s innocence is his mother. Demurring greatly, she agrees to investigate and soon begins to suspect that the mean was already dead before he was left in the street to become the responsibility of the next car that drove over him.

   The book is pleasant read for PI fans, and maybe even cozy fans who like just a little more grit in the mysteries they read, but that’s all there is, just a little more grit. The ending is more of the thriller variety than it is a gather-the-suspects-around-the-room sort of detective novel, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

   All in all, a fairly ordinary case for Delilah, and except perhaps for the killer’s identity, not a particularly memorable one. It nonetheless proved to be a most satisfactory way to spend a couple of hours while flying cross country a week or so ago.

      The Delilah West series —


Death Is Forever (1981)

Run From the Nightmare (1982)
Hit and Run (1989)
Set-Up (1991)

Trade-Off (1996)
Down For the Count (1997) .


A Change of Clients and Death Is Forever (1999)
   == Short story “A Change of Clients” [+} novel above.

Bad News and Trouble: The Delilah West Stories (2014)
   == Possibly including the following short stories:
“A Change of Clients”
“Bad News”
“Deal with the Devil”
“Diamonds Are For Never”
“Somewhere South of Melrose”
“Going to the Dogs”
“Belling the Cat”