DOUGLAS ENEFER – The Dark Kiss. Dale Shand #3 [Triphammer #1.] Leisure LB128, US, paperback, 1973. Previously published in the UK by World Distributors, paperback, 1965.

   Anybody who purchased this book based solely on the front cover as reprinted by Leisure in 1973 was probably expecting yet another men’s rough and tough men’s adventure paperback, as you can see for yourself. When they discovered what they’d really bought, I’ll bet they were miffed, to put it mildly. Instead of Triphammer #1, as advertised, what they found they had– and so did I, just now — was a mostly mild-mannered PI novel, British style.

   The word Triphammer does not appear in the book at all, not even once. In spite of its across-the-Atlantic origins, the book takes place in New York City, where PI Dale Shand has built quite a reputation, even though his office is a one-man operation with the usual second hand furniture.

   He’s hired in this particular case by a society woman (beautiful) who’s been doing some extracurricular activity with another man who is not her husband, but now that she wants to break it off, the other man is proving stubborn. She wants Shand to go ask him nicely, which he does, though perhaps nicely is not quite the right word to use.

   An easy job, he thinks, but not so. A local gangster’s hood comes calling and Shand is warned to stay away from that other man. Why? He’s not told. But of course his curiosity is piqued, and he persists.

   Pretty much a nothing of a story, you might be thinking, and you’d be right Until, that is, Nancy, the young lady whose usual job is working the switchboard in the apartment building where Shand lives decides to join him on this case, just to see, in an ever so polite fashion, what it is that a famous detective does all day.

   And wouldn’t you know it? She has more attention to what it is that’s happening around Mr. Shand than Mr. Shand himself does. Shand may not be the brightest bulb on the block, but even he begins to realize this. And not only that, but he gradually becomes more and more aware that Nancy is more attractive than he ever realized before.

   This livens the story up no end. It’s marred by an excessive use of coincidence, with people just happening to bump into each other when there’s no reason to, unless New York City was as small as Maybury was when Andy Griffith was in charge. And unfortunately Nancy disappears for the last third of the book, letting Shand wrap things up on his own.

   In the process Shand also meets another beautiful women, quite incidentally, which helps show the reader what Shand’s true colors are. Without revealing too much, but I know I am, what happens then is something like Perry cheating on Della.

   There were two more in the (I assume) Triphammer series from Leisure, but over in England there were 18 in all, none of them (I also assume) non-Triphammers. Whether Nancy is in any of them, I do not know, and I would like to.