ROBERT KYLE – Some Like It Cool. Ben Gates #4. Dell First Edition 8100, paperback original; 1st printing, August 1962. Cover art by Robert McGinnis.

   Ben Gates is your one of your typical hard-drinking 1960s PIs with an eye both eyes open for a good-looking woman, even those who might be considered a suspect in whatever case he might be working on at the time. Robert Kyle, the author of the five books he appeared in (Robert Terrall, in the real world) does a nice turn of phrase every once in a while, but this particular case is no more than extraordinarily ordinary.

   That’s probably the fault of the plot, which has to do with a bill pending before the New York State legislature designed to create Off Track Betting. The anti-gambling crowd is against it and so, of course, are the bookies whose jobs would largely be eliminated if the bill were to go through.

   An author of the likes of a Hammett or Chandler might have been able to make this interesting, but Kyle/Terrall was never of those two gentlemen’s caliber, not even with millions of dollars being offered around to make this legislator or that switch sides — not to mention blackmail and then murder.

   But the story is short and sweet enough to keep you reading anyway, and Kyle/Terrall does have a sense of humor about the whole thing, which makes it go down a whole lot more easily. Example: All of the suspects are gathered together a couple of chapters toward the end to help close up the case. Nothing new about that, you say, and you’d be right, but have you ever read about one that takes place in a public ladies’ room? With an unfortunate woman unfortunately trapped in one the stalls the whole time, with Ben Gates asking how often whether or not he’s making everything clear to her.

   Neither have I, until now.