ROBERT KYLE – Kill Now, Pay Later. Ben Gates #3. Dell First Edition B178, paperback original; 1st printing, December 1960. Reprinted as by Robert Terrall (Hard Case Crime, paperback, 2007). Cover art for each by Robert McGinnis.

   This one starts off with Ben Gates hard at work doing a job not often brought up in the world of PI fiction: namely watching over the wedding gifts at a very fancy affair in the outskirts of New York City. The affair is so upscale that Ben has hired an assistant to keep watch on the outside while he’s stuck in the house on the inside.

   It’s a good thing he did, too, as things do not go smoothly. First an inebriated bridesmaid comes into the room where he is standing guard, and the first thing she does is put on a very expensive diamond bracelet and refuse to take it off. It’s a touchy situation, and before Ben is sure he (and his assistant) have it under control, he finds himself falling asleep.

   The coffee he drank to keep himself awake was drugged.

   When he wakes up the next morning, he learns that a burglar had been at work in the house during the night. The bride’s mother, having surprised the intruder in her room, has died of a heart attack, and his assistant had shot and killed the thief.

   Everything’s fine, otherwise, except for Ben’s reputation, and to remedy that, he takes himself on as a client. What follows is a rollicking romp of a case, with lots of lovely ladies to distract Ben from following up on the clues he finds (basically how did the thief, a city fellow, know that the picking would be so good at this particular time and place?). The lovely ladies all have the way of wearing clothing (or not) as to best attract Ben’s attention, and maybe a male reader’s, too.

   Shades of Richard Prather’s Shell Scott stories – straight out of the same Author’s Handbook. No maybe about it.

   A plot line involving a case of possible arson, badger games, naughty photos, blackmail and the like builds up at length to the bursting point. At which time All Hell Breaks Loose.

   Who’d have thought a simple case of watching wedding gifts would turn out to be so complicated? And fun!

      The Ben Gates series —

Blackmail, Inc. Dell 1958.
Model for Murder. Dell 1959.
Kill Now, Pay Later. Dell 1960.
Some Like It Cool. Dell 1962.
Ben Gates Is Hot. Dell 1964.