KELLEY ROOS – One False Move. Jeff & Haila Troy #10 (*). Dodd Mead, hardcover, 1966. No paperback edition.

   This is a strange one. This was the first new book featuring the mystery-solving team of Jeff and Haila Troy in 17 years, and of all things, in spite of their obvious compatibility in all of their adventures in the 1940s, in One False Move, they’re divorced, and she has absolutely nothing good to say about her ex-husband

   What’s also very strange is that Haila, who tells the story, is only 28 in this one. If story time is the same as real time — and that’s a big “if” — that would make her two years old when the Troys solved their first case together in 1940. (*) The count is probably off up above when I called this number 10 in the series, as this assumes that “Beauty Marks the Spot” is number 9. That was a novella published separately in Dell’s 10-Cent series of paperbacks, but in fact it had been included earlier in Triple Threat, a collection of three tales published in 1949.

   Be all this as it may, if all this inconsistency can be ignored — and I confess I found it difficult — the mystery is a good (but not great) one. Haila is staying with her aunt in a small town in Texas where they are putting on a historical pageant in which Haila has agreed to take part. Dead is one of the crew. It is assumed he was blackmailing someone who finally decided he or she had had enough.

   All of the actors and stage crew are suspects, and all of them, once the investigation begins, are discovered to have been acting furtively and strangely, obviously with secrets to hide.. Overall this is a case in which clearing all of the false trails away is more interesting than the conclusion itself, but as detective stories go, this one is a solid one.

   Do Jeff and Haila get back together? You needn’t ask. In my opinion, though, and I’m only partly joking when I say this, there are times when authors should not be allowed to interfere in their characters’ lives, and this is one of them.