ALAN AMOS – Borderline Murder. Doubleday Crime Club, hardcover, 1947. Hardcover reprint: Detective Book Club, 3-in-1 edition, March 1948.

ALAN AMOS Borderline Murder

   Not too long ago I was surprised to still able to pick this up for 53 cents at the Salvation Army store on Myrtle Avenue near Jamaica. The dust-jacket symbol is the Dagger — for Chase and Adventure.

   Larry Winter, embittered by a two-year stretch for a robbery he didn’t do, gets off the Bus in Laredo, Texas on Christmas Eve.

   A private eye buddy of his has been keeping track of the man whose perjured testimony sent Winter up, and it seems the suspect, one Brantz Hallem, aka Burke Hall, is in Mexico about to smuggle some stolen jewelry stateside.

   Almost immediately, things get complicated. Winter is forced to share a room with a talkative fellow-passenger from the Bus, and the two of them get glad-handed by one Larry Higby & Wife, who are organizing a party of Motel Guests to spend Christmas across the Border.

   Then Winter hears from his PI buddy that Higby has been traveling in Mexico with Hallem/Hall and will probably be doing the smuggling.

   Oh yes; also on the trip are two elderly spinsters, an over-the-hill Opera Star, a female ventriloquist with a life-sized male dummy, an elderly doctor waiting on a burro (I’m not making this up.) and a fellow who claims to be writing a history of Texas.

   Sometime during the course of the evening, Winter gets knocked unconscious and the elderly Doctor turns unexpectedly dead. With his prison record, that makes Winter a pretty good suspect, and he realizes he now must find the real killer or face dire consequences.

   Got kind of long-winded in my rundown. This one turned out to be a pretty good read, not great by any means, nor even very memorable, but a solid piece of entertainment.

   My one quibble was with the character of Winter’s PI buddy, who, we are supposed to believe, has been tracking Hallem/Hall for two years and living on God-knows-what, then just sends Winter a letter and bows out, with no desire to be in on the kill or anything. Seems more convenient than realistic, if you ask me.

Bibliographic Bits:   Alan Amos was the pseudonym of Kathleen Moore Knight, ca. 1890-1984, a prolific mystery and detective story writer from the mid-1930s on through the 1950s, mostly for the Doubleday Crime Club — and all but forgotten today.

   She wrote four thrillers as Amos, and under her own name, more than 30 more novels, many of them cases solved by Elisha Macomber, a Penberthy Island selectman up around Martha’s Vineyard way.

   One of these books, The Trouble at Turkey Hill, was reviewed earlier by me (Steve) here on this blog. Included is a list of all sixteen of Elisha’s appearances.