NORBERT DAVIS “Don’t Give Your Right Name.” PI Max Latin #2. Novelette. First published in Dime Detective Magazine, December 1941. Reprinted in The Hardboiled Dicks, edited by Ron Goulart (Sherbourne Press, hardcover, 1965; Pocket, paperback, 1967) and collected in The Complete Cases of Max Latin (Steeger ,Books, 2013).

   I can see why Ron Goulart picked as the lead story in his The Hardboiled Dicks. Norbert Davis had a wicked sense of humor to go with a master’s touch in telling the rough, tough, hardboiled kind of tale that both Dime Detective and Black Mask specialized in.

   “Don’t Give Your Right Name,” for example, begins with a chaotic scene at Gutierrez’s restaurant, a place that’s always hopping in spite of everything Gutierrez can do to keep customers away because they eat too fast instead of savoring their food.

   This includes paying an autograph collector to go in and annoy all of the famous people gathered there. But things turn serious when the fellow turns up dead in the alley in back, and to save his own skin, Max Latin is forced to take on the case. Latin is a not-so-honest PI who, when he calls his lawyer, the latter is all but out the door and heading to the police lockup where he assumes Latin is, and is calling from.

   The story is enormously complicated, with more than a smidgen of sexual innuendo to go with it. There lots of strings to the plot, but even with the pace as fast as it is, Davis manages to keep everything under control to the end. On his part, Latin manages to keep himself out of jail, but on their part, not everyone else survives the night. It’s a risky business, showing up in one the stories he’s in.

Note: I first wrote a review of this story in 1967, and I posted it on this blog a week or so ago. Follow the link and you can read it here.