I read this book for the Vintage Mystery Bingo Reading Challenge 2014. The challenge is to read 6 or more Vintage Mysteries. All novels must have been originally written before 1960 and be from the mystery category.
I read this for D-4: Read one Mystery with a Professional Detective
Murder Charge – Wade Miller, 1950
In this noir thriller, the Syndicate sends its rep Harry Blue to sunny San Diego to organize the local vice barons. Taking exception to outsiders bringing competition and Eastern ways, the barons greet Harry with an attempted assassination with shotgun blasts. With the shot up gangster in hospital, the city cops persuade PI Max Thursday to impersonate the gangster and collect information on the merchants to vice in order to break up their rings of iniquity. In his travels, Max deals with a diplomatic spiritualist faker, a one-armed WWII veteran gone bad, a Basque thug, and two female troublemakers. Max experiences both distress and violence.
I know, like time travel stories, impersonation stories border on the lame in terms of plausibility. Plus, the prose in this novel, though always lucid, feels grey and flat. Making up for these downsides, the action and incidents provide surprises and interest. The rapid pace and tense tone will appeal to fans of genre.
Wade Miller was the brand name for the writing team Robert Wade and Bill Miller. They teamed up to write about 30 hard-boiled and adventures stories. They are best known for A Touch of Evil (a great noir movie by Orson Welles) and the wonderfully titled Kitten with a Whip (later made into a movie with Ann Margaret and John Forsythe),