MIKE BRETT – The Guilty Bystander. Ace Double D-349, paperback original, 1959. Published back-to-back with Kill Me with Kindness, by J. Harvey Bond.

   Before I begin the review of this book itself, a couple of things worth mentioning. First of all, the author is the same Mike Brett who wrote the much better Pete McGrath PI novels. There were ten of them, and I read and reviewed the first one, Kill Him Quickly, It’s Raining (Pocket, 1960), here.

   I enjoyed it, and in the process of talking about it, I brought up the fact that the author had written two books about a fellow named Sam Dakkers, both from 1959, and about whom I knew nothing. The Guilty Bystander, half an Ace Double paperback original, is one of the Sam Dakkers books. (The earlier one was Scream Street, also from Ace, and published the same year.)

   I didn’t know anything about Sam Dakkers at the time, but in the meantime I’ve discovered that he has a page in Kevin Burton Smith’s wonderful PI-oriented Thrilling Detective website. The thing is, though, is that Sam Dakkers is no PI. He’s a bookie who handles illegal bets, and who has been busted any number of times. Nor in this book at least, does he have anyone who even resembles being a client.

   He’s only a guy who gets into trouble, caught between a hood named Benny Flumshin — no kidding — and the cops, and it all starts with a girl. A girl who acts sexy in a bar and lets Sam take her home. Before things get too hot between them, the doorbell rings. The girl’s boy friend, she says, and Sam takes it on the lam out the window.

   A shot rings out. Sam goes back, and the girl is dead. He’s hit on he head, and when he wakes up the cops are there. Who’s the boy friend? None other than the aforementioned Benny Flumshim.

   There’s more, but this is the gist of the story. (The “more” consists of a guy who breaks into Sam’s apartment later that night with a knife and ends up dead himself, and in a major way, a stolen diamond worth a fortune.) The problem is, is that the story is not very interesting, nor (as far as I could tell) are all of the threads of the story tied up. Otherwise, strictly routine, and that’s stretching it.

   Sam Dakkers sure had the ability to attract some good-looking ladies, though, you gotta give him that.