FLOYD MAHANNAH – The Broken Angel. Macrae Smith, hardcover, 1957. Condensed version published in Mercury Mystery Book Magazine, January 1958. Pocket #1231, paperback, 1958. Stark House Press, softcover, March 2018, combined in one volume with Backfire and Other Stories; introduction by Bill Pronzini.

   In spite of owning all five of the mystery novels published by Floyd Mahannah in his relatively short lifetime, I’d never read any of them until now. My mistake, but thanks to the folks at Stark House Press, I’ve rectified it.
   The Broken Angel is pure noir, through and through. It begins with two main characters, newspaper editor/writer Roy Holgren and his secretary, Sara Martin, having a one-sided affair — the kind in which he is more in love with her than she is with him, but the sex is good.

   But the lady has a past, and when it catches up with her, it is with a bang. When Roy rescues her from the hospital in which she ends up, it is he who convinces her that he can help. When at last she admits to committing a murder before she came to work for him, he stays with her, but there are times in The Broken Angel when he wishes he hadn’t.

   Think, perhaps of pairing William Hurt with Kathleen Turner, if you were to make a movie of this, or Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, and I’d go see it, that’s for sure.

   The book itself slows down a bit a bit about two-thirds of the way through. There is an overabundance of characters, all with there own secrets, and it becomes more difficult than it should be to figure out who is blackmailing who, and why.

   But the ending is a rip-roarer of one, and Roy at last learns whether she loves him or not, or perhaps of even more importance, did she kill the wife of the doctor she worked for or not? Some detective work on Roy’s part answers the second question, but on balance, there may be more tension involved before the first one is answered.

      Bibliography: FLOYD MAHANNAH (1911-1976) —

The Yellow Hearse. Duell 1950; Signet 1951, as No Luck for a Lady.
The Golden Goose. Duell 1951; Signet, 1952, as The Broken Body.
Stopover for Murder. Macrae-Smith 1953. Signet, 1956.
The Golden Widow. Macrae-Smith 1956. Permabook, 1957.
The Broken Angel. Macrae-Smith 1957. Pocket, 1958.

   Backfire and Other Stories appears to be an original collection, consisting of five stories from Manhunt and one from Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine.