PAUL KRUGER – Weave a Wicked Web. Phil Kramer #2. Simon & Schuster, hardcover, 1967. Paperback Library 63-180, paperback; 1st printing, December 1969.

   There’s a little reviewer’s license going on there in the line up above. Phil Kramer’s not a licensed PI. What he is instead is a practicing attorney, but what he’s hired to do in this, his second appearance, is definitely a PI’s job, and the way he tackles it is exactly how a PI would. A PI in other colors is still a PI, no matter how you may look at it. Or him, as the shoe may fit.

   It all begins when a beautiful blonde walks into his office to have a woman called Kitty Bates found. She also has a description of her, but nothing about her background or anything else. She also will not say why she wants her found. There’s not much for Kramer to go on, but when he sees a story in a newspaper about a woman’s otherwise unidentified body having been found, the wheels in the case finally get going.

   And what a case it is. It turns out that Kitty Bates – yes, it is she – has been blackmailing someone in his client’s family for a long time, and that possibly even before she was killed, someone else had impersonated her to obtain $50,000 in cash from someone else in the family. And then two, maybe three, other deaths occur, Kramer is knocked out from behind at least once, and all of the alibis of those who may have responsible are leaking like sieves.

   This, in other words, is a detective story with a capital D. Do not expect any more character development than there is in your average Perry Mason novel, for there is none. There are twists galore in the telling, culminating in a long scene at the end, over ten pages long, in which all of the suspects have been gathered together while Kramer explains all – naming two killers in succession before finally implicating the real one.

   All fine and good, but even if this sound fine and good to you (and I freely admit that some may not), the telling is awfully dry, with lots of repetition as Kramer continually goes over the facts with everyone he speaks to. It’s a good mystery, no doubt about it, but with only a minimum amount of  juice in it to speak of, it’s not a great one.


      The Phil Kramer series –

Weep for Willow Green. Simon 1966
Weave a Wicked Web. Simon 1967
If the Shroud Fits. Simon 1969
The Bronze Claws. Simon 1972
The Cold Ones. Simon 1972

   Besides her five Phil Kramer novels, “Paul Kruger,” a pen name of Roberta Elizabeth Sebenthall,   (1917-1979), has five other works of crime fiction included in Al Hubin’s Crime Fiction IV.