DONNELL CAREY – Kisses Can Kill! Chase Coburn #1. Phantom #501, digest-sized paperback original; 1st printing, 1951.

   Donnell Carey, an author you probably never heard of, was actually the pen name of Joe Barry Lake, who never wrote any mysteries under that name, but who did write several as by Joe Barry, five of which were hardcovers featuring PI Rush Henry as the detective of record. I have not read any of these but on the basis of Kisses Can Kill!, at the moment I see no reason to rush right onto the Internet to find any of them.

   This was Barry’s only book as Donnell Carey, and hence, almost automatically, the only appearance of PI Chase Coburn. Coburn is as generic a moderately tough PI as there could be. His only claim to fame may be that he’s part of a small group of PI’s who belong to the club of “my partner’s been killed and it’s up to me to do something about it.” His partner was a guy who played fast and loose with the ladies, while Chase has always been somewhat soft on the dead man’s wife.

   The case that Dave, Chase’s partner, was working on was mostly financial. He’d been in Cincinnati trying to find out why a branch of a Manhattan-based clothes designer firm is not doing as well as it should. Chase spends a big chunk of the middle portion of the book out in Ohio and across the river into Kentucky doing not much of anything before returning to Manhattan to close up the case.

   Which turns out to be one of blackmail on Dave’s part. Who did him in is meant to be a surprise, but with plenty of time to think things over on the part of the reader, while the less interesting part of the story is going on, it is lot easier than it should have been to see the twist coming.

   Overall then, Kisses Can Kill! is no more than an average PI story, told with some competence, but not one you’ll remember for more than a day or so.

Rating: C Minus