MANLY [WADE] WELLMAN – Find My Killer. Farrar Straus, hardcover, 1948. Signet #1448, paperback, 1957.

   A perfectly acceptable thick-ear mystery for fans of that sort of thing, and I’m one.

   Ex-cop, former MP Stonewall Jackson Yates comes to Storm City on the promise of a job and finds his prospective employer dead — an apparent suicide, and if you believe that, I have a stack of rare Harlequin Romances to sell you. He is quickly hired by attorney J. D. (“That’s all the name I’ve got. Dad wanted a boy.”) Thatcher to throw a sleazy PI out of her office and the two team up to find out who murdered her client and his almost-boss. It seems there’s a codicil in his will offering Five Gees to anyone who can find his killer if he meets a violent end.

   Nothing that follows is especially surprising, but Wellman never lets it go stale. There’s the lovely-but-lethal widow —Check; The crooked lawyer —Check; mysterious doctor —Check; brutal cops —Check; false clues, fisticuffs, tentative romance, gangsters and guns — Check, check and CHECK.

   Wellman covers all the bases, adds a tricky plot, and wraps it up with a wink. There must be a hundred more like Find My Killer, but if you miss the sort of fast-moving fiction that used to sell for two bits in drugstores, you could do a lot worse than to spend a couple hours here.