JACKSON GILLIS – Chain Saw. St. Martin’s Press, hardcover, 1988; paperback, August 1990.

   Sometimes I think a writer spends so much time polishing up Chapter One of his or her book that it ends up so overwritten as to be almost unreadable. I exaggerate, but it did happen again here, and I almost quit reading, which would have been a serious mistake, as I very much liked a lot of what came later.

   Former LA policeman Jonas Duncan is hired in this book to discover if a young orphan making a claim on an elderly lumberwoman’s fortune is for real or not. I’m not sure why this was published by St. Martin’s in paperback under their “Mean Streets” imprint. The phrase implies “urban streets” to me, and this particular tale, which also includes an authentic portrayal of a lumber industry which is slowly dying out, is as rural and outdoorsy as they come.

   There is also a decent mystery involved, with plenty of twists and false trails. Skip Twin Peaks and read this instead.

— Reprinted from Mystery*File #23,, July 1990. (Considerably shortened and revised.)

Bio-Bibliograhic Notes:   This was Jonas Duncan’s only appearance in printed form. Author Jackson Gillis wrote one other detective novel included in Hubin: The Killers of Starfish (Lippincott, 1977) which also took place in Washington State, but that is the only connection between the two.

   His name may, however, be more familiar to some of you for a couple of other reasons. According to his Wikipedia page, Gillis was “an American radio and television scriptwriter whose career spanned more than 40 years and encompassed a wide range of genres.”

   Some of the radio shows he wrote for: The Whistler and Let George Do It. For TV: Perry Mason, Lost in Space, and Hawaii Five-O. He died in 2010 athe age of 93.