LAWRENCE GOLDMAN – Tiger by the Tail.   David McKay, hardcover, 1946. Hardcover reprint: Unicorn Mystery Book Club, 4-in-1 edition, October 1946. Also: Detective Book Magazine, Summer 1949.

LAWRENCE GOLDMAN Tiger by the Tail

    The detective in this tale, following closely in the footsteps of private eye Max Thursday and police sergeant Joe Friday, is (you guessed it) named Johnny Saturday, top trouble-shooting investigator for a west coast insurance outfit.

    According to Hubin, Saturday was also the leading character in Fall Guy for Murder (Dutton, 1943), a book which I have not seen [but which at long last, thanks to the Internet, I now have on its way to me].

    The scene is Los Angeles, more specifically the Market, the hub of the city’s fresh produce business; the time is right after the war, just as the country is beginning to show signs of getting itself back on its feet again.

    At first the crimes are minor ones, such as sabotage and the hijacking of commodities like grapefruit and lettuce, but what has Saturday worried is a $20,000 policy on a dead man.

    The writing is strictly pulpbound, evoking a period and flavor unmatchable outside the brittle pages of an aging Dime Detective Magazine, say (which, incidentally, cost 15 cents in 1946).

    The plot is complicated, and perhaps it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but in its way I found it wholly representative of an entire era of mystery fiction writing, one that’ll never return.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 3, No. 5, Sept-Oct 1979 (slightly revised).