Reviewed by TONY BAER:


A. A. AVERY – Anything for a Quiet Life. Farrar & Rinehart. hardcover, 1942. Bantam #38, paperback; 1st printing, June 1946.

   Donovan’s an ad man for a trade magazine in New York City in the late 1930’s. He’s not too into it. What he’s really into is sailing his skiff in the South Seas.

   His best buddy and sailing partner has come into a bunch of money, and a sporting girl has gotten her hooks into him. Not only is she gonna take him to the cleaners, but it’s going to play havoc with Donovan’s sailing plans.

   So Donovan is set with trying to break up the marriage before it happens.

   Turns out the sporting gal is being sicced on Donovan’s buddy by design of some dangerous mobsters.

   The mobsters have a number of fish to fry, only one of which involves Donovan’s buddy.

   The biggest fish set to fry is based on the real-life McKesson & Robbins, Inc. scandal of 1938. Said scandal involved a bogus bootlegging corporation manipulated to merge with a legit pharma company. A fake balance sheet formed the basis for a merger worth millions to the fraudsters passing off the valueless shares of the shell company to the stockholders of the legit one.

   Donovan gets his hands on proof that the balance sheet is fake and aims to leverage this information to sabotage his buddy’s marriage and save both his sailing plans and the shareholders from a soaking.

   If it sounds convoluted, it is. But as convoluted as it is, you don’t have time to think about it — Donovan (and you, dear reader) is too busy being chased by men with guns all thru the city, warding them off by his swift wits and fisticuffs. With the help of a lovely lass he meets along the way (who happens to be not only executive assistant of the pharma company but an excellent sailor to boot!).

   The book is fast as hell and twice as fun. It’s not a book to ponder. But it’s a breathtaking ride.