THOMAS CHASTAIN – Vital Statistics. J. T. Spanner #2. Times Books, hardcover, 1977. No paperback edition.

   Relatively few private eye novels appear any moe, and those that do often seem to have their existence pend soley on minor variations from the standard format. This one’s told in present tense, for example, but one soon learns to ignore that. The only other distinguishable feature is that J. T. Spanner’s office help consists of his two ex-wives, with both of whom he maintains most cordial relations.

   The case itself concerns a missing stewardess and the mutilated body of an unidentified young woman. Are they the same? The underlying background and mood are provided by the living entity called New York City, the provider as well of a myriad interesting facts and figures.

   Although nothing new really develops, it is a smooth and convincing effort, the only jarring moment coming with a distastefully violent means of forcing a final confession.

–Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 2, No. 3, May 1978.

Bibliographic Notes: Spanner’s earlier case was entitled Spanner (Mason/Charter, 1977). There was not a third. Among his other crime novels, Chastain wrote five books about Max Kauffman, a Deputy Chief Inspector of the N.Y.P.D, including an appearance in the first Spanner book, and two additional cases for Perry Mason, written after the passing of Erle Stanley Gardner.