ELLIOTT CHAZE – Goodbye Goliath. Kiel St. James #1. Charles Scribner’s Sons, hardcover, 1983. No paperback edition.

   The entire staff of The Catherine Call hated the general manager, John Robinson, and wished horrible things would happen to him. When the city editor, Kiel St. James, finds Robinson with a letter spike shoved through the back of his neck, those wishes are fulfilled.

   The investigation into Robinson’s death is handled by Orson Boles, who favors a “lizard-green polyester suit” and cracker dialect for conducting investigations. St. James can draw out the more literate Boles, the two men having been friends for years in the small Alabama town they live in.

   Boles soon narrows the suspect field down to five. The major clue comes from finding Robinson’s much loved hat crumpled on the floor; closer inspection shows that it has a small hole that corresponds to the size of the letter spike, and is traced with blood, The blood type is not the same as Robinson’s and Boles’ investigation finds only five people on The Catherine Call who have the matching blood type. Kiel St. James is one of those, and is suffering from blackout spells.

   A subplot surrounds St. James and the state of his love life. His girl friend, Gretchen, is called out of town on business which soon turns into a permanent move out-of-state. St. James keeps bumping into cub reporter Crystal Bunt, “the newspaper’s all-weather, free-style “sex symbol.” St. James tries to hold out against Crystal’s efforts to get beyond his resolve, but doesn’t succeed. The love story that evolves is a pleasant addition to the standard investigation that follows.

   Chaze provides substance, to his mystery by allowing the characters to develop to a point where the reader can care about them, There is a small town charm to Goodbye Goliath that is enhanced by the authentic newspaper atmosphere the author presents.

   Chaze has worked for the Associated Press and as a city editor of the Hattiesburg American, and presently lives in that Mississippi town. Goodbye Goliath is his seventh novel, and an ideal one to curl up with in a comfortable chair.

– Reprinted from The Poison Pen, Volume 6, Number 1 (Spring 1984).