or WILLIAM ARD’s The Diary and JONATHAN LATIMER’S Murder in the Madhouse, by TONY BAER.


   There was some review on the back of a Maigret book that said something about how many countless traveling businessmen had been comforted, salved, and assuaged in their lonely motel rooms by these books.

   So I guess that’s where I’m going with this.

   Murder in the Madhouse is the first of the Bill Crane detective novels. He’s been assigned to investigate a theft of a strongbox of one of the inmates. He enters incognito, ‘disguised’ as a crazy drunkard who thinks he’s a great detective.

   Once he arrives, a series of murders ensue, for which he serves as a chief suspect of the local stupid sheriff.

   Crane’s detection is surprisingly effective, and justice, after drinks, is served.

   The Diary (Timothy Dane #3), is pretty much a straight ripoff of The Big Sleep. Dane gets called in by a millionaire widower because he is being blackmailed over his sexpot 18 year old daughter’s stolen diary. Murders ensue, for which Dane serves as chief suspect of the stupid DA. Dane’s detection is surprisingly suspect, and justice, hold the drinks, is served.

   Both the books are well told. The authors are natural born writers, who write smoothly, entreatingly, and know how to tie a thing together.

   You finish the book, and it’s done. You won’t remember it.

   On the other hand, in the time that you’re in it, you’re in it. It holds you.

   And all of the terrible shit of the world, and of the day, it disappears.

   And the smartass detective, buzzing off highballs, poor, honest, and self sufficient, keeps punching onward against a screwed up world.

   Thank you, Mr. Hardboiled Detective, for showing us the way.

          “I can’t go on. I’ll go on.” — Beckett