COLLIER YOUNG – The Todd Dossier. Delacorte, hardcover, 1969. Dell, paperback, 1970.

   The Todd Dossier by “Collier Young” — actually a pseudonym of Robert Bloch — is for the most part a fairly gripping and well-constructed medical mystery about a shady heart transplant and it’s slow unraveling… right up to the end, when Bloch throws the story away.

   Having set up an ingenious crime and some very nasty bad guys, then whipped up a good amount of suspense over the fate of his doctor-detective, he decided for some reason to resolve it with a facile plot device from nowhere that goes unconvincingly against the grain of his characters.

    Most of the time I was reading this, I wondered why Bloch put a pen name on it, but when I finished, it occurred to me if I’d written an ending like that I probably wouldn’t give my right name either.

   Dossier does offer, though an insightful look back to another time, one that I hadn’t thought quite so distant. Fifty years ago, when this was written, heart transplants had just crossed the line from Sci-Fi to reality. It was the time of the Jarvic Heart, Baboon hearts in babies, and other faltering steps toward what is today routine surgery.

   Bloch’s awe — expressed by his characters — about the dawn of a new biology, is as quaint in its way as the speeches in old war movies (Pick a war — any war) about the New and Better World that will surely follow once we kill these bastards. We also get an actual plot point about a couple whose marital bliss is threatened because the husband feels emasculated by his wife’s job — was this really just fifty years ago?

   As I say, Todd Dossier is mostly taut and readable. I just never expected anything so antiquated “by the Author of Psycho.”