KIERAN ABBEY – Beyond the Dark. Dell #93, mapback edition, no date stated [1945]. First published by Charles Scribner’s Sons, hardcover, 1944.

   This one begins at Inspiration Point, overlooking the Hudson River at the uppermost tip of the island of Manhattan. A man and a woman, strangers to each other, are watching the boats on the water below. He offers her a cigarette. She accepts. Three men come walking up from the parkway below, deep in conversation. When they see the pair of them at the top, they stop talking and pull out their guns. Shots ring out.

   The couple, still strangers, flee together, making their way downtown by means of a police car they steal, having found it left unmanned nearby. Thus begins one of the most Woolrichian tale of constant capture. escape and chase — up and down and across the entire city — that I’ve had the pleasure of reading in a good long while. Not only are the police after them, but the FBI, and of course the gang of conspirators the men who shot at them are a part of.

   Both of them has a reason, not revealed, for not wanting to go to the police. Neither has anyone in the entire city they can turn to for help. Worse, when they return to the apartment the girl has borrowed for the duration of her stay, they find the body of one of then men who shot at them, recently and definitely deceased.

   If you could stop reading at this point, you’re a better person than I. Of course the explanation of how these two people got into a fix like this is not nearly as interesting as the story of how they find their way out of it. No matter. This one was a pleasure to read.

   Kieran Abbey was a pseudonym for Helen Reilly, who was, as you may already know, the author of several dozen Inspector McKee police procedural novels. This is the third of only three she wrote under this name, all during the 40s. It’s a book filled with the sights and sounds of late wartime New York City, showing another side of the author I wasn’t aware of before.