D. MILLER MORGAN – A Lovely Night to Kill. Daisy Marlow #2. Dodd Mead, hardcover, 1988. No paperback edition.

This one started out well, reminding me as it did of one of Erle Stanley Gardner’s better known non-Perry Mason characters, and if tell you the the leading character is a beer-drinking 183-pounder PI named Daisy Marlow, you will immediately know why. By the time I got to the end of the book, I was thinking Phoenix Press, and no, that’s not good, not good at all.

   I hate to be nasty, but this is a terrible book. People seem to think that they need to write a mystery story is to create screwy or somehow otherwise unique type of detective with lots of idiosyncrasies, then somebody has to die, somebody has to be the killer, and then fill it in with all sorts of clues.

   And leaving it to the reader to connect it all up.

   In case, though, you’re interested in the story, in the first couple of chapters a man, his wife and their two young children are blown up in a trailer with some sort of “nuclear” device. The wife escapes the explosion,but is caught by the killer, beaten up and raped. Then, for reasons never fully explained, the woman and her dog are left in front of a “fat” clinic.

   This clinic is somehow the key to the other half of the story: a dog-napping/blackmail ring working the members of a San Diego bridge club. San Diego is where Daisy Marlow works, and that’s how she gets involved.

   The brutality of the opening scene never meshes with the whimsical approach Daisy takes to the detective business, and she should thank her heavenly stars she has the skillful Joanne as her assistant. Joanne’s “sources” seem to know everyone and everything, ad as neat as a pin, the solution unravels itself to Daisy, if not to me.

–Reprinted from Mystery*File #15, September 1989 (somewhat revised).

Bio-Bibliographic Update:   The initial “D” in the author’s name stands for Deloris. There was one earlier book in the Daisy Marlow series, Money Leads to Murder (Dodd Mead, 1987). There was never a third.